Mexican Cinema Under the Stars

Mexican Cultural Institute hosts film series beginning July 1

By Alejandra Espasande Bouza
Published on LatinoLA: June 30, 2005

Mexican Cinema Under the Stars

For Mexican filmmaker Juan Bustillo Oro (1904-1989), films were something he made and wrote about. In 1925, Bustillo published a collection of short stories titled ?The Restless Twighlight/La Penumbra Inquieta?, inspired in the events that unfolded, not presicely in the big screen but, among the audience during the showcase of a film. In his tale ?The Thief of Bagdad?, Bustillo focuses in the encounter of two perfect strangers who share the closeness of their seats. The story begins with a gentleman?s ?accidental? touch of his neighbors? elbow, an elbow belonging to a mysterious lady.

Amidst nervous looks, profound sighs and the adventures executed on the screen by actor Douglas Fairbanks, the ?brief encounter? culminates with a passionate cinematographic kiss.

For Bustillo cinema is ?a type of entertainment which other than offerig the enchantment of its art, it often indulges us with delicious surprises. It allows us to be next to a beautiful woman, to be next to her the whole evening, or the whole night, in a rare intimacy, as if forgetting the many prejudices that keep us from her, outside the darkness of the movie theater. As the good observer that he was, for a good filmmaker must be a good observer, Bustillo understood that the darkness of a movie theater brought about great stories.

And why remember Bustillos, because one of his films, titled When the Children Leave/Cuando los hijos de Van (1941), will be presented on Friday, July 1st, in the new showcase of Mexican cinema organized by the Mexican Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.

The showcase, curated by filmmaker Alejandro Pelayo, current Cultural Attache of the Mexican Consulate, reflects the cinematographic quality of the films produced in Mexico during its Golden Age.

Four of the nine films that will be presented: Mar?a Candelaria (1943), La Perla (1945), Enamorada (1946) y Sal?n M?xico (1948), belong to the filmography of Emilio ?el Indio? Fern?ndez (1904-1986), a native of Coahuila whose talent and good taste at the time of choosing his collaborators, propelled to new heights the artistic potential of cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, scriptwriter Mauricio Magdaleno, and actors Mar?a Felix, Dolores del R?o and Pedro Armendariz, among others.

From filmmaker Fernando de Fuentes (1894-1958), a native of Veracruz, the showcase will present the film Do?a B?rbara (1943), adapted from the novel under the same name by Venezuelan author R?mulo Gallegos, and starring a beautiful Mar?a Felix. The filmography of de Fuentes is remembered in part for his trilogy of the Mexican revolution, highlighted by the film El Compadre Mendoza (1933), writen by Mauricio Magdaleno and adapted by the ever remarkable, Juan Bustillo Oro.

Another of the films, Heavenly risen/Subida al cielo (1951), directed by the Spaniard Luis Bu?uel (1900-1983), reflects the rich filmography produced by this cineast in Mexico. In collaboration with scriptwriter Luis Alcoriza, Bu?uel worked in the production of an array of films that include: The Great Calavera/El Gran Calavera (1949), The Forgotten/Los Olvidados (1950), The Brute/El Bruto (1952), Him/El (1952), The Criminal Life of Archivaldo de la Cruz/Ensayo de un crimen (1955) and The Exterminating Angel/El Angel Exterminador (1962).

To conclude the audience will enjoy a comedy, Dos Tipos de Cuidado (1952), directed by Alejandro Galindo (1906-1999), a film that brings together Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, superstars of the Mexican ?ranchero? genre. The films of Galindo, a native of Monterrey, won the clamor of the mass audience with stories that reflected upon the reality of a contemporary Mexico. An example of it are the films Crownless Champ/Campe?n sin Corona (1945), A Family of Many/Una familia de tantas (1948) and Wetbacks/Espaldas Mojadas (1953), films marked by the intensity of actor David Silva?s strong performances.

These films, directed during the forties and part of the fifties, owe their quality to the producers who brought together so much talent under one same film. And the free showcase of this series, at no cost whatsoever, is owed to the great collaboration of the Mexican Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Mexico.

The films will be presented in Spanish with English subtitles, and will be showcased outside the facilities of the Mexican Cultural Institute. In that manner the audience will be able to fall under the spell of the best of Mexican cinema, in the darkness of a warm starry night, where perhaps an ?accidental? touch of elbows will turn the evening into a whole new story.

For more information about this and other great events

Mexican Cultural Institute
125 Paseo de la Plaza, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90012 / (213) 624-3660

About Alejandra Espasande Bouza:
Alejandra E. Bouza is a freelance writer.

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