Mexico fetes Cuaron's Oscars, but filmmakers keep feet on ground

Mon Mar 3, 2014 6:53pm EST
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By Michael O'Boyle

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - As Mexico basks in the glow of its first best director Oscar for Alfonso Cuaron and his blockbuster film "Gravity," a new generation of homegrown filmmakers wonders if the magic of the golden statuette will rub off on them.

Cuaron's 3D space thriller scooped seven Oscars, the most of any film on Sunday, and was lauded for groundbreaking special effects conveying space and weightlessness, though it lost the best picture award to drama "12 Years a Slave.

The movie, which stars Sandra Bullock as an astronaut cut loose from her space shuttle, has already earned $700 million at the worldwide box office and Cuaron's win is the first best director Oscar for a Latin American.

However, the 52-year-old Cuaron has spent most of his career outside Mexico, after he struggled to raise financing for projects back home, and fellow leading directors Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu also both moved abroad.

Back in his homeland, a new generation of Mexican directors has been quick to point out Cuaron's work has had little to do with the domestic industry. "Gravity" was made for an estimated $100 million by Warner Bros. Pictures, while directors in Mexico have to scramble to drum up just $2 million for a film.

Many Mexican independent filmmakers have had more commercial success abroad than in their home country, where filmmakers complain they can't compete against the big budgets of Hollywood studios, whose films dominate screens at cinemas.

"The only place where you cannot see Mexican film is in Mexico," said Ivan Avila Duenas, who debuted his fourth feature film at the National Autonomous University of Mexico's International Film Festival, FICUNAM, on Sunday.

Though Cuaron cut his teeth in Mexico, most of his best known works have been Hollywood-backed projects.   Continued...

Alfonso Cuaron poses with the awards for best director and best film editing for "Gravity" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni