Mexican director Gaz Alazraki shook up his country’s film industry this year when his raucous clash of the classes comedy “Nosotros los nobles” (“We Are the Nobles”) grossed more than $26 million at the Mexico box office. It also put the 35-year-old former commercials director on the map in Mexico and in the U.S., where the film will premiere at the Los Angeles Latino Intl. Film Festival next month. (Fest director Marlene Dermer screened the 2001 USC School of Cinema and TV grad’s short film “Respete las Senales,” (Road Signs) at the festival almost 10 years ago.) Cinelatino is prepping theatrical distribution in the U.S.
Fresh on the heels of “Nobles,” Alazraki was invited to speak this summer at the TEDx Conference in San Miguel de Allende outside Mexico City, where he became a big hit with his irreverent Nine Unlikely Teachers presentation.
It’s a worldview Alazraki demonstrates in even a brief sit-down. Explaining what he learned by traveling to India, for instance, Alazraki says he came to understand that “Bollywood doesn’t give a shit about Hollywood.”
The helmer says he forced himself to consider why this was so.
“ I realized that Hollywood is a cult,” he says. “I started to also realize I graduated in the shrine of this cult. So I asked myself, ‘Who do I worship?’ And I stopped taking Hollywood or any system of moviemaking so seriously.”
That Alazraki would find himself directing movies seems predestined. He’s the grandson of filmmaker Benito Alazraki, whose film “Raices” (Roots) competed in Cannes, and the son of commercials helmer-producer Carlos Alazraki.
Perhaps because Carlos knew too well the travails of the industry Benito toiled in, Gaz was pushed to avoid the movie business. Now that his son has a blockbuster under his belt, however, Carlos is willing to reconsider.
“My dad loves being wrong!” Gaz chortles.
Wise Words From Offbeat Teachers
Gaz Alazraki’s Nine Unlikely Teachers that he thinks all aspiring filmmakers should learn from — along with the insights to take from them:
“Immature poets imitate. Mature poets steal. Bad poets deface what they take. Good poets make it into something better.”
“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
“I am NEVER satisfied with my work.”
-Sushi master Jiro Ono
“You ever been so miserable at work that you just spend some extra time sitting in the toilet?”
“To lead people, walk behind them.”
-Philosopher Lao Tzu
“There will be too many Paula Abduls to tell you how good you are. You need someone to tell you, ‘That was just crap!’ ”
“Your defi nition of ‘success’ defines your working culture.”
-HBO’s Richard Plepler
“All first drafts are shit.”
“What’s the BIG idea?”
-“Shark Tank” progenitor “Dragon’s Den”