The Ibero-American Fénix Awards film-TV awards have been cancelled, according to an official statement released Monday by event organizers, Cinema23. The prime reason behind the decision to end the awards is budget cuts to cultural programs applied by the Andrés Manuel López Obrador administration, elected in July of last year.
A celebration of the cinema and TV industries of Latin America, Spain and Portugal, the Fénix Awards kicked off in 2014.
“Public and cultural policies have radically changed in our country, They no longer allow civil society organizations access to public resources,” the statement ran.
“The Fénix Awards’ viability in commercial terms, via private sponsorships, is impossible. The state’s continued participation is necessary to carry out an initiative of this magnitude.”
The Mexico’s 2019 general budget for cultural affairs is $645 million, down 7.6% on last year’s $698 million.
“Cinema23 urges the culture and arts communities to resist the government’s lack of clarity on strategies and vehicles of promotion, which are crucially important to the development of a nation,” the statement concluded.
Other key institutions affected by cuts are Mexico’s Imcine film and TV agency and Mexico City’s historic Churubusco Studios. Public funds such as Eficine, Foprocine and Fidecine fall under Imcine’s purview.
“The government’s cuts are undoubtedly questionable, especially because of achievements that have taken years of effort, such as the financing lines that Imcine has developed to finance and promote Mexican cinema,” said producer Edher Campos, at Machete Producciones.
“We are all suffering these changes. The suspension of the Fénix Awards, however, is a very strong blow to Spain, Portugal, and Latin American countries. They represented a unique space where cinema was the language to recognize our cultures and reflect them against each other.”
He added: “The Awards helped make co-production opportunities between our countries visible. They even created Fénix Week, where nominated films were programmed for public use. The only thing I can say about Cinema 23 and Ricardo Giraldo [Cinema23 manager] is that their spirit was always one of transparency, collaboration and unity.”
The Fénix Awards marked an initiative of Mexico-based promotion organization Cinema23, founded in 2012, whose members included Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Iñárritu and Pablo Larraín, among the more than 1,000 members. Five editions of the ceremony have been held so far.
At last year’s Fénix Awards Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s “Birds of Passage,” (pictured), Colombia’s Oscars’ Foreign-Language category entry, took home the best picture award at a ceremony in Mexico City on Nov. 7. The awards added TV nominees in 2017.