Nuevo Cine Mexicano

Last updated
Nuevo Cine Mexicano
Years active1990s-2010s
Influences Italian Neorealism
The new National film library building. Cineteca Nacional 11.jpg
The new National film library building.

Nuevo Cine Mexicano, also referred to as New Mexican Cinema is a Mexican film movement started in the early 1990s. [1] Filmmakers, critics, and scholars consider Nuevo Cine Mexicano a "rebirth" of Mexican cinema because of the production of higher-quality films. This rebirth led to high international praise as well as box-office success, unseen since the golden age of Mexican cinema of the 1930s to 1960s. The quality of Mexican films suffered in the decades following the golden age due in part to Mexican audiences watching more overseas films, especially Hollywood productions. [2] This resulted in the rise of infamous Mexican genres such as Luchador films, sexicomedias and ultimately the low-budget direct-to-video Mexploitation film. [3]


Many themes addressed in Nuevo Cine Mexicano include identity, tradition, and socio-political conflicts within Mexico itself. [1] The movement has achieved international success with films such as director Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mamá También (2001), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay [4] and at the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Film, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Amores Perros (2000), which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. [5] Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth a 2006 Mexican-Spanish won numerous international awards.

There is debate over when this “new wave” of Mexican cinema began and whether there are any clear parameters as to how it differs from other Mexican film movements other than "newfound audience enthusiasm". [6] Some cite the actual rejuvenation of Mexican cinema as starting in 1998 in a Post-NAFTA Mexico, beginning with the film Sexo, pudor y lágrimas (Sex, Shame and Tears). [6] Others believe it began because of the international acclaim of the films such as Like Water for Chocolate (1992) and its nomination for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes. [7] [8] The definition of Nuevo Cine Mexicano also leads to the question, "What is a Mexican film?"—is it Mexican film because of who makes or stars in it, or because it takes place in Mexico. [9]


Alex Garcia, one of the most active producers of audiovisual content in the Spanish-speaking Americas. 0D3L0261 copia.jpg
Alex Garcia, one of the most active producers of audiovisual content in the Spanish-speaking Americas.

The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema occurred from the 1930s to the 1960s, afterward, a period of low-budget B-movies funded by the state of Mexico was the primary source for films for the Mexican public. [2] A resurgence of Mexican cinema was believed to occur in the 1970s, however, its success was short-lived as the majority Mexican filmgoers preferred Hollywood films. [3] [6]

Before the 1990s, the Mexican film industry was primarily funded by the state in coordination with the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (Mexican Film Institute, IMCINE). There was a decrease in Mexican audiences watching Mexican-produced films in favor of Hollywood blockbusters as well as "film production dropp[ing] to an all-time low" due to the economic crash in 1994. [2] The IMCINE produced roughly five films a year during the crisis. [1] [9] The main influx of directors and filmmakers, as well as funding, primarily came from the IMCINE. The incoming filmmakers, nicknamed the "1990s Generation", were helped by the generation of 1968 with their filmmaking skills. [3]

One of the most successful filmmakers of the 1990s Generation of Mexican filmmakers, Guillermo del Toro, said that "In the 80’s there was a huge void in Mexican cinema, then my generation picked up the staff in the early 90s." [10] However, during the 1970s "technical experimentation" took precedence within the film community, and through the 1980s films "catered to the lowest common denominator", the 1990s Generation learned by working together with the filmmakers of the late 60s and 70s. [1]


Arturo Ripstein in 1997, Ripstein won the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, the second filmmaker after Bunuel to do so. Ripstein-2.jpg
Arturo Ripstein in 1997, Ripstein won the National Prize of Arts and Sciences, the second filmmaker after Buñuel to do so.

Social divisions within Mexico is a reoccurring theme within Nuevo Cine Mexicano, including the films Y Tu Mamá También, El crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), and Amores Perros.

Mariana Chenillo became the first female director to win an Ariel Award for Best Picture back in 2010. Director Mariana Chenillo.jpg
Mariana Chenillo became the first female director to win an Ariel Award for Best Picture back in 2010.

Though the films touch on the “socio-geographic divisions” of Mexico in different ways. [6] In Amores Perros , the economic divisions are portrayed through the differences between the main characters' homes. El Chivo lives in a "seedy residence" which that is juxtaposed with his daughter’s "respectable home". [6] With El crimen del padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) the traditions of the Catholic Church, which remains a prominent influence in Mexico, is questioned when a young priest has sex with a teenager leading to her death from an abortion. [6] Other subjects such as homosexuality and political corruption are briefly touched on in Y Tu Mamà También (And Your Mother Too), helping to set up a background of what Mexico is and is not. [11] The two main male characters in the film differ in their social standings because of their families' political connections. What ultimately breaks their friendship apart is having sex with one another. [11] Within Nuevo Cine Mexicano, filmmakers try to portray such social and economic troubles within Mexico through different perspectives, which commonly goes against the sometimes stereotypical portrayals of Mexico and its inhabitants in U.S. and European films.

The characterizations of Europeans or foreigners, specifically Spaniards, are relatively negative. In several works in Nuevo Cine Mexicano, the conflict within the story is due to a person of Spanish descent. Either the non-foreigners in the film who associate with the Spaniards are drastically changed or the Spaniards themselves meet a tragic end. [6] The filmmakers use this trope in order to recall Mexico's past, specifically with Spain's colonization of Mexico. [6] The style of the films generally mimics the "art house" films of previous decades, since the state of Mexico had the greatest authority over the production of movies. [11] Directors specifically adopted this style in order to move away from the state and into independent productions, which a majority of Nuevo Cine Mexicano is. [3] Production studios normally fund one to two million dollars per film, due to the lack of mainstream production. [9] The influence of "NAFTAtrade and tax policies" made it harder for the public to fund such productions. [9] Women are statistically underrepresented in creative positions like the called "celluloid ceiling" of the underrepresentation of women in hiring and employment in Hollywood.

Diego Luna actor, director, and producer. Diego Luna.jpg
Diego Luna actor, director, and producer.

However it has being improving two of the most popular films El secreto de Romeila (1988) directed by Busi Cortés and Los pasos de Ana (1990) by Marisa Sistach. [11] Are considered the doors that opened opportunity for women filmmakers in Mexico as well as created a new genre that people were not familiar with, labeled as ‘women’s cinema’. [11] The phenomenal growth of ‘women’s cinema’, not only meant that there would be an infinite expansion in the list of female names as filmmakers or creators; in reality, it created a daunting cinematic genre by objectifying women as well as displacing them within the film industry. [11] According to Patricia Torres San Martín, an honorable film scholar, there is a new theme emerging within the film industry in Mexico which is known as the ‘new female identity’. [11] Yalitza Aparicio debut performance in Roma (2018) makes her the first Indigenous Latin American (Indigenous Mexican) to be nominated in any category at the Academy Awards.

Museum won the best script award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film tells the story of the famous robbery to the National Museum of Anthropology on December 25, 1985, in Mexico City.

Presumed Guilty is a documentary following Antonio Zúñiga, who was falsely convicted of murder. It holds the box office record for documentary in Mexico. According to The Economist , this is "by far the most successful documentary in Mexico's history."

Main players

Fernando Eimbcke file won the Cartagena Film Festival in 2009. Fernando Eimbcke.jpg
Fernando Eimbcke file won the Cartagena Film Festival in 2009.
Eiza Gonzalez in 2015. Eiza Gonzalez (cropped).jpg
Eiza Gonzalez in 2015.

Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro G. Inarritu make up the "Three Amigos", the main Mexican film directors of Nuevo Cine Mexicano. All have created films produced in Mexico and Hollywood. Critics and award shows consider these three as the premier directors in their craft. [12] Each produces and uses actors and cinematographers from Mexico, even in their Hollywood made productions. [9] "Poster-boy" actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have also moved on to several Hollywood productions, yet their popularity in Mexican cinema has proven to endure throughout the years. [9] Other directors include Alonso Ruizpalacios, Fernando Eimbcke, Jonás Cuarón, Issa López and Carlos López Estrada other actors include Eugenio Derbez, Eiza González, Diego Boneta, Kate del Castillo, Marina de Tavira, Adriana Paz, Marco Perez, Irene Azuela, Eduardo Verástegui, Karla Souza, Ana Claudia Talancón, Cecilia Suárez, Cassandra Ciangherotti and Jaime Camil.

European influence

Since 2000, some directors have made "independent productions looking for more personal expression", under a greater influence of European cinema. [13] The most representative films of this trend [14] are the films of Carlos Reygadas ( Japón and Battle in Heaven ), whose use of non-professional actors was influenced by Italian neorealism. Other films include: Mil nubes de paz cercan el cielo, amor, jamás acabarás de ser amor (A Thousand Clouds of Peace Fence the Sky, Love; Your Being Love Will Never End) and El cielo dividido (Broken Sky), directed by Julián Hernández, and Sangre , directed by Amat Escalante and produced by Jaime Romandía and Reygadas.

Award-winning films and directors

Best feature film
Best film director
Jaime Humberto Hermosillo Homework
La tarea
1991 Flag of Russia.svg Won a special mention at the 17th Moscow International Film Festival.
Jorge Fons Midaq Alley 1995 Flag of Spain.svg Won the Goya Award for Best Iberoamerican Film at the 10th Goya Awards.
Alejandro González Iñarritu Amores perros 2000 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Flag of France.svg
Won the Award for Best Film Not in the English Language at the 55th British Academy Film Awards and Prize of the Critic's Week at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.
Juan Carlos de Llaca Dust to Dust
Por la libre
2000 Flag of Cuba.svg Won a special mention at the 2000 Havana Film Festival.
Alfonso Cuarón Y Tu Mamá También 2001 Flag of the United States.svg Won the Award for Best International Film at the 18th Independent Spirit Awards.
Guillermo del Toro Pan's Labyrinth 2006 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Won the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language at the 60th British Academy Film Awards.
Michael Rowe Año bisiesto 2010 Flag of France.svg Won the Caméra d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
Carlos Reygadas Post Tenebras Lux 2012 Flag of France.svg Won the Best Director Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Amat Escalante Heli 2013 Flag of France.svg Won the Best Director Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Alonso Ruizpalacios Güeros 2014 Flag of Germany.svg Won the Best First Feature Award at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
Amat Escalante The Untamed 2016 Flag of Italy.svg Won the Silver Lion for Best Direction at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.
Alfonso Cuarón Roma 2018 Flag of Italy.svg
Flag of the United States.svg
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Won the Golden Lion at the 75th Venice International Film Festival, Best Director Award and Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards [15] and Best Film Award and Best Direction Award at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards. [16]

Other notable works

Antonio Serrano Sexo, pudor y lágrimas 1999Directorial debut of Antonio Serrano.
Carlos Carrera The Crime of Father Amaro
El crimen del Padre Amaro
2002Nominated to the Best Foreign Language Film Award at the 75th Academy Awards. [17]

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  17. Salma Hayek presenting the Foreign Language Film Oscar to "Nowhere in Africa": 2003 Oscars