Monday, June 17, 2024

Mexico’s Ariel film awards held in Guadalajara for the first time

After nearly being canceled due to what the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences (AMACC) has called “a serious financial crisis,” the 2023 Ariel Awards celebrated the best in Mexican cinema on Saturday night in a new location — Guadalajara.

Following some six decades in Mexico City, the 65th installment of the “Mexican Oscars” was held at Guadalajara’s historic Teatro Degollado.

Alejandro Iñárritu at the awards
Renowned Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu at the Ariel awards, where his film “Bardo, False Chronicles of a Few Truths” took home eight awards. (EDGAR NEGRETE LIRA/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

The big winners included “El norte sobre el vacío” (rendered in English as “Northern Skies Over Empty Space”), which won best picture, and “Bardo, False Chronicles of a Few Truths,” which took home eight awards, including best director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu) and best actor (Daniel Giménez Cacho).

“Bardo” was the night’s biggest winner. The surreal tale of a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who returns to Mexico after living in Los Angeles received 12 nominations, the third most behind “Huesera” with 17 nominations (four wins) and “El norte sobre el vacío” with 16 nominations (two wins).

The best actress Ariel Award for best actress went to veteran actor Arcelia Ramírez for her role in “La civil” as Cielo, a mother-turned–raging activist after the Mexican authorities offer no support in her search for her kidnapped teenage daughter.

“This Ariel is for the women who, unfortunately, in this country are searching for their missing children,” a visibly moved Ramírez, 55, said upon receiving the award. “I hope that Mexico moves toward a justice system that does not allow [for] even one more Cielo in this country.”

El Norte sobre el Vacío poster
The best picture winner is a story about a rancher in northern Mexico who battles members of a drug cartel. (AMACC/X)

On the red carpet, actress Verónica Toussaint said it was “incredible that there are so many women nominated tonight” – especially for best director (four of five nominees were women) and best picture (directors of four of the five nominated films were women).

“That makes me happy and it is something historic,” said Iñárritu, 60, a four-time Oscar winner who is known for “Amores perros” (2000), “21 Grams” (2003), “Babel” (2006), “Birdman” (2014) and “The Revenant” (2015).

Though Iñárritu won the award for best director, it was a woman, Alejandra Márquez Abella, 41, who directed the best picture, “Northern Skies.” The film is based on a true story of a rancher and grandfather who tries to protect his land against a cartel.

Filmed in the states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, the film marked the Ariel Awards’ third straight best picture directed by a woman, following Fernanda Valadez’s “Sin señas particulars” (“No Identifying Features”) in 2021 and Tatiana Huezo’s “Noche de Fuego” (“Prayers for the Stolen”) in 2022.

Huesera film poster
The horror film “Huesera” took home the best debut feature award. (AMACC/X)

Meanwhile, director Michelle Garza Cervera, 35, and her film “Huesera” (“The Bone Woman”) triumphed in the categories of debut feature, original screenplay, makeup and special effects. Her blockbuster film is a horror story about a woman who’s been trying for some time to have a child, only to be haunted by something very creepy shortly after finding out she is pregnant.

“Huesera” can be found on Amazon Prime Video in Mexico, as can “Northern Skies Over Empty Space.” “Bardo” can be watched on Netflix and “La civil” is available on Star+.

Last November, the AMACC announced that it was in a financial crisis and that it was suspending the 2023 Ariel Awards “until further notice” – causing an uproar in Mexico’s film industry.

Film critic and former director of the National Cinematheque Leonardo García Tsao said that the López Obrador administration “has shown that it is not interested in culture, it is only interested in baseball.” Filmmaker and six-time Ariel Award winner Guillermo del Toro decried the “systematic destruction” of the Mexican film industry in a Twitter post last year that was retweeted by nearly 24,000 people.

However, following Saturday night’s ceremony, the AMACC has announced it will seek to make the awards show a traveling affair. The state of Nuevo León, which has Monterrey as its capital city, has shown interest in hosting the 66th edition next year.

With reports from Associated Press, Infobae and El País

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