Event pays tribute to promising but struggling cinema

Gael Garcia Bernal will be honored at the Paris Cinema fest with a complete retro, which forms part of a wider Mexico Spotlight.

Both look well deserved.

Garcia Bernal is best known as one of Latin America’s few true-blue international stars.

But he brought documentaries to Mexican villages by co-founding Ambulante. A promising director in his own right (“Deficit”), as a partner in Canana he’s helped produce a new generation of Mexican talent, most notably Gerardo Naranjo and Ruben Imaz. And he’s a vital vocal defender of funding for the industry.

All this at just 32.

Paris Cinema’s Mexico tribute comes at a paradoxical time for the industry.

Mexico’s total admissions grew 6.5% last year for a gross B.O. of $714 million. Yet Mexican films’ market share was just 6.1%, as local producers battle with problems at least addressed, if not solved, in more mature national industries: TV financing and distribution.

What nobody denies is Mexico’s status as a new talent hotbed.

“Mexico is a land of very promising talents like Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio, Fernando Eimbcke or Nicolas Pereda. We wanted to celebrate the Mexican Cinema effervescence with a major panorama,” says fest director Aude Hesbert.

Fest showcases 40 pix, from ’50s mellers to latest-generation talent like Amat Escalante (“The Bastards”), Eimbcke (“Lake Tahoe”) and the more established Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Carlos Reygadas.

Sidebars feature the ingratiating and near ubiquitous face of lower-budget filmmaking, actor Gabino Rodriguez (“At a Stone’s Throw”) plus helmers Nicolas Echevarria (“Cabeza de Vaca,” “Living Kills”) and Nicolas Pereda (“Summer of Goliath,” “Juntos”).

Another showcase — Mexico/USA : The Frontier of Western — examines Mexico as seen in oaters.

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