Monday, June 17, 2024

Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro laments “systematic destruction” of Mexican film industry

The Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences (AMACC) said on Thursday that it will suspend the 2023 Ariel Awards because it is facing a “serious financial crisis.” The AMACC is the honorary organization charged with promoting Mexico’s film industry, and the Ariel Awards is the country’s leading film event. The awards will be suspended until further notice. 

“The State, which was the motor and support of the academy for a long time, has renounced its responsibility as the main promoter and disseminator of culture in general and of cinema in particular,” the AMACC said in a statement. 

“The support of public resources has decreased considerably in recent years.” 

The Ariel Awards were started in 1946 to recognize the country’s top filmmakers, performers, and technicians. Entries are nominated at the beginning of the year and the ceremony is held in October following the academy’s vote. The academy also selects Mexico’s entries for international awards.

Film academy president Leticia Huijara at the 64th annual Ariel Awards in October. AMACC Twitter

During this year’s awards, AMACC president Leticia Huajira recognized the challenges the film industry in Mexico is facing: “Today, the AMACC does not have the resources to operate. We must pause, explore alternate paths to continue. We call to close our ranks, to take care of the academy as it has been, a dream imagined by filmmakers as a good for everyone, like it is everyone’s house.” 

In the coming months, the academy will focus on rebuilding its finances and reorganizing its work. 

Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who has won six Ariel Awards, voiced his frustration with the lack of funding for the country’s film industry. 

“The systematic destruction of Mexican Cinema and its institutions—which took decades to build—has been brutal. We survived Lopez Portillo’s term, but this is unprecedented,” he said on Twitter. He is referring to former President José López Portillo, who led the country to a major economic crisis during his term (1976-1982).

Actor Joaquín Cosío echoed these sentiments. “López Obrador and the 4T [fourth transformation] withdrew support for the Mexican Academy. As expected they do not understand culture or art. Ignorant. There is no other word.” 

The López Obrador administration has targeted film and other cultural industries in its austerity measures. In 2020, President López Obrador proposed to cut the Cinema Investment and Stimulus Fund (Fidecine), saying the money should be used to reactivate the post-coronavirus economy. However, three Mexican directors, including del Toro, persuaded the federal government not to abolish the fund. 

However, he has continued to make major cuts to the art and culture sectors. Upon assuming the presidency, he reduced the funds allocated to cultural activities to only 0.21% of the federal budget, the lowest seen in decades. 

With reports from Expansion, El País, and Forbes

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