Mexican filmmaker Fernando Frias’s latest feature, “I’m No Longer Here,” has garnered a host of awards since it was minted at the Sundance Screenwriters lab. Now streaming on Netflix, the film’s depiction of a nearly extinct countercultural movement framed against an immigration drama has won accolades from Oscar-winning directors Guillermo del Toro and
It’s shortlisted to represent Mexico at the Oscars in 2021. The Columbia U. alum also directed the entire first season of “Los Espookys” on HBO, from “Saturday Night Live” alums Julio Torres and
Despite all the obstacles, given all the cutbacks in public support, what do you think about the state of cinema in Mexico?
Mexican cinema has always come from a place of resistance one way or another, but we have been doing good in terms of results and creating audiences. That being said, it definitely feels like an uphill battle. Right now, with the global pandemic, it’s even harder because distribution and theatrical exhibition have been hit so hard, but I feel that the community in Mexico is very strong. For example, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro reached out to me immediately after the film’s release to offer advice and ask how they could help further the film’s reach. So there’s a big sense of community and I participate in it. We are going to fight for what we think should continue existing the way it needs to, and for the support of not only cinema, but culture and the arts in general … there cannot be any room for transformation or growth in a society without culture, without amplifying voices, and without looking at art as one big interconnected tissue that is an essential part of our country.
What does the slowed-down version of your characters’ cumbia dance represent?
This cumbia rebajada, the slowed down version, represents the idea of clinging on to fast-expiring youth. When no upward social mobility and a lack of opportunity is the norm, youth doesn’t last as long as it should. The golden years of life get interrupted very early on in these difficult conditions. So for me, this music comes as the voice of resistance trying to make the song last a little longer, trying to hold on to that dance, trying to squeeze every drop of meaning out of it, because after that, the future is not so promising. It’s a metaphor for that.
What issues are you hoping to delve into for your next film?
I am going to address the issue of cultural clash in my next film as well, but through a very different tone … it’s actually something closer to a comedy. It’s on the darker side, but in many ways, it has about the same amount of commentary on society and on the connection of things that are seemingly unconnected on the surface and how they impact the inner life of relatable characters.