Best Mexican Film Directors

Thursday, August 25 by Mariela Del Bosque

Among the best Mexican film directors are those who made the first Mexican movies in black and white. Their work, in the rising Mexican cinema, played a significant role in establishing a world renowned national film industry. In recent years, the efforts of a group of young, talented, Mexican film directors has increased the Mexican big screen industry’s position in the world’s spotlight. They have also been nominated for and won several international awards. Here are the names of some of the best Mexican film directors:

Emilio Fernandez. (1904 – 1986)

Better known by his nickname “Indio Fernández,” Emilio was a film director and, also, an actor. With more than 40 movies directed, Fernandez interacted with Mexican Golden Era movie stars like Dolores del Rio and Joaquin Pardave, both Mexican national icons. “El Indio” portrayed rural Mexico in his films, which became the image of this country in the world. Two of his most popular films were “Flor Silvestre” (1942) and “Maria Candelaria” (1944), both starring Dolores del Rio. Fernandez won the Palm d’Ore in Cannes for “Maria Candelaria.” Fernandez political point of view (he was rebellious agains traditional government) led him I to exile in Los Angeles. There, he had the chance to work as an extra in Hollywood, between 1920 and 1930. Thanks to his close friendship with Dolores del Rio, the female star in many of his movies, Fernandez had the chance to get close to her husband, Cedric Gibbons, the official designer of the original Academy Award. Gibbons offered Emilio to model nude for a knight holding a sword, which,  later, became the "Oscar" we all know now. In the beginning, Emilio rejected the idea, but, later, he was convinced by some close friends to do it. After the liberal Lazaro Cardenas became the Mexican President in 1934, Fernandez, could finally return to Mexico to re-start his film directing career.

Ismael Rodriguez. (1917 – 2004)

The first Mexican trilogy was his most valuable legacy to Mexican films; “We, the poor,”“You, the rich,”and “Pepe the bull,”(1947, 1948, and 1952 respectively), are now classics and a cherished national heritage. Another gift from Ismael Rodriguez to his country was the discovey of Pedro Infante. Infante was an actor and singer who worked in several movies directed by Rodriguez. Infante became a symbol of the Mexican film history and an idol who can’t be separated from the Mexican national identity. People in Mexico visit Infante’s grave every April 17,  the anniversary of his death. Infante  won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival for “Tizoc,”Infante’s last movie, also directed by Ismael Rodriguez. 

Ajandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. (1963 – ) 

His four movies, “Amores Perros” (“Love’s a Bitch”) (2000), “21 grams” (2003), “Babel” (2006), and “Biutiful” (2010) have placed Inarritu at the top of modern Mexican film directors. Iñárritu was the first Mexican director nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and won the “Prix de la mise en Scene,” or best director, at Cannes in 2006. His films have accumulated 12 Academy Award Nominations.  Inarritu’s films are modern and intense. Perhaps, the greatest of Inarritu’s talents lies in the power that he has to vividly describe, with deep passion, human injustice and social inequality. Inarritu’s movies won’t let any viewer indifferent.

Guillermo del Toro. (1964 – ) 

A modern Mexican Film director. His most famous movie, “Pan’s Labyrinth,”was his triumphal entrance into the world cinema. He is a brilliant master of horror themes known for creating unusual  situations, where humans face their real and sometimes unknown inner fears, in a creepy , unexpected world.  “Cronos,” “Don’t be afraid of the Night,”  “Hellboy,” “Hellboy II,” and “The Devil’s Backbone,” are some of his most notable films. Del Toro’s latest plan is to direct with Disney co-operation on The Haunted Mansion, a film based on Disney’s famous park ride.

-Flor Walker