Even before the Ariels — Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscars — were to be handed out April 13, acrimony was building between disgruntled filmmakers, organizers at the local Academy of Film Arts and Sciences and members at large.
On one side, the local media is abuzz with criticism against the Academy for not nominating the nation’s two top-grossing films — animated laffer “Otra pelicula de huevos y un pollo” (Another Egg Movie and a Chicken) and generational drama “El Estudiante” (The Student) — for animated film and best film, respectively.
The toon scored $8.58 million at the B.O. but was likely hurt by toilet humor aimed at the playground set. In a year marked by Mexican commercial noms, director Jorge Lavat
is staying home.
I told them, ‘Tell that privileged elite of distinguished brains that I appreciate the invitation, but I’m not going,’ ” Lavat says.
When noms were announced, gala organizer Blanca Guerra declared the animated film category devoid of nominees, despite “Huevos” and two other $1 million-plus B.O. toons — citing that none had cinematic merit.
Said academy prexy Pedro Armendariz: “They were two bad films. We have an internal voting system … and that’s the way the cookie crumbles.” He described the Mexican Academy’s system as being akin to France’s or the U.S. Academy, which aim to reward artistic excellence above box office success.
With this 52nd edition, the Mexican Academy had also hoped to respond to criticism raised last year when indie producers Monica Lozano and Pablo Cruz spoke out against the voting system, which they said failed to acknowledge the reality of today’s biz. That system allowed only 25 members to vote, and of those, none were allowed to be producers.
The Academy responded by opening up the voting to 625 industry members, including producers and previous winners and nominees, and by making the voting process a simple online exercise.
When it was announced last week that only 70 members actually voted this year, Armendariz let his disappointment be known but added, “It just goes to show how a democracy works. I hope I am putting my finger on the problem, and I hope it gets better.”