Carlos Reygadas and nine other Latino directors to know
Mexican director Carlos Reygadas won Best Director at Cannes.
The 65th edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped on Sunday with one of the strongest line-ups of Latin American films in recent memory. Mexico brought the party to Cannes – literally – with cases of the ancient spirit Mezcal getting seized by authorities at a glitzy party thrown by director Carlos Reygadas. (See also: what is Mezcal?)
But he had good reason to celebrate. The 40-year-old lawyer-turned-filmmaker, who caused controversy for the animal cruelty scenes in his 2002 film Japón, won the Best Director prize this year for his surrealist family drama Post Tenebras Lux (Latin for “after darkness, light” and derived from the Biblical Book of Job).
The movie, which stars his own children, Rut and Eleazar, was in fact booed at the film festival, but that’s just fine by Reygadas, who at a press conference in Cannes said, “It flatters me that a good portion of the press don’t like it. It’s not my aim to please the greatest number of people possible.”
Clearly, he was able to please the right people.
Reygadas is part of an exciting crop of Latino directors who are doing things their own way and are ready to spin further into Hollywood’s orbit this year.
Let’s meet nine of them, in alphabetical order:
1. Fede Alvarez
Panic Attack, Alvarez’ five-minute short depicting a robot invasion of his native Montevideo, Uruguay went viral in 2009 and landed him a Hollywood deal with A-list director Sam Raimi, who enlisted him to direct a re-imagining of his 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead. Alvarez, 34, co-wrote the screenplay and has started production this month in New Zealand with a young cast led by Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood), Jane Levy (Suburgatory), Elizabeth Blackmore (Legend of the Seeker), Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield) and Lou Taylor Pucci (Carriers). The remake is supposed to stay close to the original, which is about five twenty-something friends in a remote cabin who discover a Book Of The Dead and unwittingly summon up dormant demons who then possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left to fight for survival.
We smell gore!
2. Alejandro Brugues
Brugues, 35, knows horror. In fact, Raimi’s The Evil Dead is the second movie he ever owned. It was only a matter of time before the Buenos Aires-born, Havana-raised director would create his own gore-fest, with a twist. His zombie comedy Juan of the Dead, the first zombie film ever to be shot in Havana, has won a clutch of audience awards in various fests, including this year’s Miami Film Festival. Focus World, the digital-platform branch of Focus Features, picked up the satire for release August 14 on video-on-demand, DVD, and other formats. Brugues is now reading several scripts in English.
3. Aurora Guerrero
These are the kinds of stories we love to read about: A San Fran-based Chicana, Guerrero, 40, raised funding for her lesbian Latina-themed film Mosquita y Mari via a Kickstarter campaign which required her to secure her target budget of $80,000 in 30 days. After achieving the near-impossible, she shot her feature debut in record time and then secured a slot at the 2012 Sundance Film Fest. The Film Collaborative plans to release the film sometime this year.
Watch as Guerrero talks about how the community support from Huntington Park, Calif., was crucial to the making of her feature film in this 2012 ad campaign for Bing.
4. Nicolas Lopez
This 28-year old Chilean wunderkind is now in post-production with his first English-language film, the earthquake thriller Aftershock, to be released in 2013. The film, about six friends who fight to survive a devastating earthquake in Chile, is inspired by Lopez’s own experience during Chile’s magnitude 8.8 quake in February 2010, and is co-written by Eli Roth (Hostel), who also stars in it. Look for a cameo by Selena Gomez, too. Roth has referred to this movie as the beginning of Chilewood, or “making genre films for the global market using all the resources Chile has to offer.”
Lopez is also prepping Que Pena Tu Familia, the third part of his Que Pena trilogy. The first two installments, Que Pena Tu Vida (known in English as Fuck Your Life) and Que Pena Tu Boda (Fuck Your Wedding), were the top grossing Chilean films of 2010 and 2011.
5. Diego Luna
Mexican actor Diego Luna, 32, proved his directing chops with his 2007 documentary about iconic Mexican boxer J.C. Chavez and his quirky dramedy, Abel, a festival hit. After starring in the Will Ferrell comedy Casa de mi Padre, he’s taking the reins of a more ambitious project, Chavez, about the iconic union rights leader of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The biopic started shooting in Sonora, Mexico in April, with Michael Peña in the lead role of Cesar Chavez, Rosario Dawson as his right-hand woman, Dolores Huerta, and America Ferrera as Chavez’s wife, Helen. Canana Films, Luna’s production company with buddies Gael Garcia Bernal and Pablo Cruz, is producing it.
6. Michael D. Olmos
Olmos, 41, is the Jamaican-born adopted son of Latino icon Edward James Olmos. His latest film, Filly Brown, co directed with Youssef Delara, made a splash at Sundance this year. Filly Brown features a makeup-free Jenni Rivera, Olmos Sr. and Gina Rodriguez, hailed as a revelation in this film. Indomina acquired worldwide rights to it and plans a theatrical release in the fall.
7. Patricia Riggen
Riggen, 42, broke out as a major talent to watch in 2007 after her feature debut Under The Same Moon (La Misma Luna) sparked a bidding war at Sundance and landed a record $5 million sale to Fox Searchlight and the Weinstein Co. The Mexican-born director resides in Los Angeles. Riggen’s latest, the coming-of-age tale Girl in Progress, starring Eva Mendes, is out now.
8. Omar Rodriguez Lopez
This Puerto Rican musician’s occasional forays into filmmaking have resulted in polarizing, slightly unhinged fables. His latest film, Los Chidos, sparked lively debates at SXSW. While music is his bread and butter, making films is his passion. He collaborated with Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer to compose the score for Guillermo Arriaga’s 2009 film, The Burning Plain. Rodriguez, 36, is currently raising funding for his next project, Niño y Esperanza, a barrio film with a twist.
9. Sebastian Silva
After his taut family drama The Maid swept major awards at Sundance and other major festivals in 2009, it was only time before the 33-year old Chilean director would venture into more commercial fare. An accomplished painter and illustrator, Silva started shooting his first English-language pic Magic, Magic in Chile in April. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions pre-bought rights in the U.S. and other territories for the psychological thriller starring Michael Cera, Juno Temple, Emily Browning and Catalina Sandino Moreno.