Mexican leftist candidate stars in documentary

Mexico’s leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador may have lost last year’s election, but he’s become the star of one the highest grossing documentaries in Mexico.

“Fraude: Mexico 2006,” directed by Luis Mandoki, had been seen by nearly a quarter million by the end of its second week, which already puts it behind only “Fahrenheit 911″ and “March of the Penguins.”

Distribution plans for Mandoki’s vision of the disputed 2006 election were disrupted after Warner Bros. backed out of an initial offer to release the film.

Mandoki’s unabashedly partisan documentary, largely narrated by Lopez Obrador himself, claims a conspiracy of right-wing politicians, including then-acting president Vicente Fox and shady former president Carlos Salinas, stole the 2006 presidential election from him.

Conservative Felipe Calderon was eventually named Mexico’s next president by the nation’s electoral court after a legal battle and street protests by Lopez Obrador supporters.

Juan Manuel Borbolla, head of Warner Bros. Mexico, said the studio decided “Fraude” didn’t have B.O. appeal. But Mandoki said Warner had buckled under pressure from its local partner, Televisa. The film alleges top Televisa execs Emilio Azcarraga Jean and Bernardo Gomez played a part in a smear campaign against Lopez Obrador in the run-up to the election. Warner shares offices with Televisa film-arm Videocine and uses the company to book its releases.

Mandoki eventually found “Fraude” distribution with indie Decine.

While some critics have blasted the film’s partisan take, Mandoki shrugs it off. “Mexico is in real trouble in terms of corruption and impunity,” he says. “This has been my little grain of salt to add to the struggle for democracy in Mexico.”

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