Mexicans protest ‘death’ of cinema

MEXICO CITY — Members of Mexico’s film community took to the streets last weekend to protest the imminent demise of local cinema.

Under the banner of “Kill Me Because I’m Dying: Who Murdered Mexican Cinema?,” several hundred people gathered on a hot and smoggy Sunday afternoon to call for the resuscitation of the local industry.

Over the last two years, Mexico made about 15 films a year, including co-productions, the lowest level since the 1930s.

The University Center for Cinematography Studies (CUEC) organized the combined march-rally-festival with the support of the Film Workers Union, the National Assn. of Interpreters and other organizations. In addition to center alums, the event attracted veteran filmmakers Alejandro Galindo and Matilde Landeta; directors Oscar Blancarte, Jaime Casillas and Rafael Monteros; and actors Eric del Castillo, Carlos Bracho and Julieta Egurrola.

Armed with posters bearing photos of Pedro Infante, Maria Felix and other stars of Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema, the marchers demanded that local film production receive a percentage of box office receipts and that 30% of screen time be reserved for Mexican films.

Actors dressed as Uncle Sam and Batman performed in skits protesting Hollywood influence and the predominance of U.S. productions here.

The demands also included the construction of movie theaters devoted to Mexican cinema, more financial support from the government, and the restructuring of the institutions and laws that govern the industry. Organizers said the goverment curently only gives about $1.25 million to the Mexican Institute of Cinematography.

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