new mexican cinema

est. 1990s – 2010s

In the late 20th century, Mexico witnessed a cinematic renaissance that brought a new life into its film industry. This film movement, also known as Nuevo Cine Mexicano, reshaped the landscape of Mexican filmmaking, leading to the production of higher-quality films that received greater international acclaim.

Origins of New Mexican Cinema

The late 20th century witnessed a significant political transition in Mexico, marked by the end of seven decades of one-party rule. Mexico underwent economic reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, embracing globalization and opening its markets to the world. This period of economic transformation influenced the film industry, providing both challenges and opportunities. Filmmakers found new ways to navigate the globalized landscape, incorporating international influences while retaining a distinctly Mexican perspective.

 

Similar to other contemporary film movements worldwide, New Mexican Cinema was closely tied to independent filmmaking. Filmmakers looked for alternatives to the mainstream industry, exploring unconventional narratives and experimental storytelling techniques. This independence allowed for a greater diversity of voices to emerge within the Mexican film scene.

 

The rich literary traditions of Latin America, characterized by magical realism and a deep engagement with social and political issues, served as a significant influence on Nuevo Cine Mexicano.

New Mexican Cinema - Amores Perros (2000) by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Amores Perros (2000) by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Amores Perros (2000) by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Amores Perros (2000) by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Characteristics of New Mexican Cinema

Departure from linear storytelling is a hallmark of New Mexican Cinema. Filmmakers embraced multilayered narratives, incorporating non-linear and interconnected timelines. This approach allowed for a more nuanced depiction of characters and their relationships. The films often explored contrasts between urban and rural settings, presenting the everyday struggles of ordinary people, as influenced by the Italian Neorealism, but focusing on authentic portrayals of Mexican society.

 

Nuevo Cine Mexicano explores humanist and existential themes, delving into the human condition, morality and the search for meaning. Identity, whether individual or collective, is a recurring motif. The films often delve into questions of self-discovery, cultural identity, and the tension between preserving cultural heritage and embracing change. Mexican culture, folklore and traditions are celebrated and critiqued in equal measure.

 

Important to mention is that the movement challenged traditional gender roles and stereotypes, presenting women and their struggles within Mexican society.

Solo con tu pareja (1991) by Alfonso Cuaron
Solo con tu pareja (1991) by Alfonso Cuaron
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) by Alfonso Cuaron
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) by Alfonso Cuaron

Important filmmakers and films

Alfonso Cuaron, a key figure in both Mexican and international cinema, contributed significantly to Nuevo Cine Mexico movement. His film “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001) explored themes of friendship, sexuality, and the disparities between social classes in Mexico. Cuaron’s later international successes, including “Gravity” (2013) and “Roma” (2018), further solidified his position as a cinematic trailblazer.

 

Acclaimed director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu gained global recognition with films like “Amores Perros” (2000), the first installment of his “Death Trilogy.” Known for his intricate narrative structures and exploration of complex human emotions, Inarritu’s work often delves into the interconnected lives of characters against the backdrop of Mexico City.

 

While Guillermo del Toro’s work spans various genres, his impact on Mexican cinema is undeniable. Films like “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001) and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) showcase his unique blend of fantasy, horror and social commentary. Del Toro’s ability to infuse folklore and myth into his narratives adds a distinctive flavor to the New Mexican Cinema landscape.

Japon (2002) by Carlos Reygadas
Japon (2002) by Carlos Reygadas

Legacy and Influence of New Mexican Cinema

The impact of New Mexican Cinema extends beyond the realm of filmmaking. The movement has contributed to a broader cultural dialogue, challenging stereotypes, and fostering a deeper understanding of Mexican society. It continues to inspire a new generation of filmmakers who seek to explore the multifaceted nature of Mexico’s identity, and contribute to the ongoing evolution of Mexican and Latin American cinema.

 

It stands as a testament to the power of storytelling in shaping a nation’s cultural identity. Through its diverse perspectives and exploration of societal complexities, the movement has left an indelible mark, contributing to the ongoing narrative of Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.

Please refer to the Listed Films for the recommended works associated with the film movement.