Mexican film director Michel Franco took home the Silver Lion Grand Jury prize at the Venice International Film Festival Saturday for his film, Nuevo Orden (New Order).
“The lion is indeed heavy,” joked Franco after winning Saturday, adding that he’d be sending the award home to Mexico with a friend because he’s scheduled to serve as a juror in the San Sebastian International Film Festival, which starts Friday. “It’s going to need its own suitcase.”
Franco just missed winning the top prize, the Golden Lion, which U.S. film director Chloé Zhao won for her film Nomadland.
“The [jury members] told me that they were impressed with the film and that the vote was a close call,” Franco said.
Actor Cate Blanchett chaired the festival’s Grand Jury this year, which counted among its members actor Matt Dillon and director Joanna Hogg.
Franco also won the top prize from the festival’s Youth Jury on Friday.
Nuevo Orden, a dystopian thriller about class inequity, premiered at the festival. It will also compete in the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival later this month. The film opens with the lush wedding of an upper-class family taking place while an armed revolt of citizens is arising on the streets outside.
The prestigious win for Mexican cinema comes amid economic concerns this year for the nation’s film industry, which has been strongly supported by the government. In 2019, 49% of Mexico’s commercial films were supported at least in part by grants from government-run agencies and trusts like the Mexican Institute for Cinematography (Imcine), the Fund for the Production of Cinematographic Quality (Foprocine), which supports art films, and the Cinema Stimulus and Investment Fund (Fidecine), which supports commercial films.
But in April, President López Obrador announced an end to government-sponsored trusts, except for those written into federal law. Soon afterward, Foprocine, one such trust, and its budget was merged with Fidecine, one of the trusts written into Mexican law. Last week, Mario Delgado, coordinator for the majority Morena party in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, announced that Fidecine would also be reexamined, despite earlier promises that it would receive an increase in its budget.
In May, Imcine officials also announced that its 2021 budget for supporting film festivals across Mexico would likely be reduced by 40 million pesos and asked that applicants “reduce their economic expectations.”
The proposed federal budget, announced last week, cuts support for filmmaking by 60 million pesos, to 345 million.
Franco himself addressed budget cuts in an interview with the newspaper El Universal shortly after his win, indicating that the government should continue to support Mexican filmmaking.
“I am saying, in the most positive and clear manner possible, that it has gone well for [Mexico] in Venice, in Cannes,” Franco said. “There is no need to toss aside what has taken such a long time to build.”
Mexican filmmakers have been among the big winners at the festivals in recent years.
Source: El Universal (sp)