Nuevo Cine Mexicano

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 as a “rebirth” of Mexican cinema due to the production of higher quality films. This has led to high international acclaim. as well as box-office success which has been unseen since the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema of the nineteen-thirties to sixties due to the quality of Mexican films downgrading which resulted in the rise of infamous Mexican genres such as Luchador films, Sexicomedias and ultimately the low-budget direct-to-video Mexploitation film.[2] Films since the Golden Age had also declined due to Mexican audiences watching more films from overseas, especially Hollywood productions.[3]

Many themes addressed in Nuevo Cine Mexicano include the roles of gender, identity, tradition, and socio-political conflicts within Mexico itself [1] The movement also has hailed international success with films such as director Alfonso Cuaron’s Y tu mama tambien (2001), which was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay 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.

Arguments concerning when this “new wave” of Mexican cinema began and whether it has any clear parameters as to how it differs from other Mexican film movements other than “newfound audience enthusiasm”.[4] Some cite the actual rejuvenation of Mexican cinema as starting in 1998 in a Post-NAFTA Mexico beginning with the film Sexo, pudor y Idgrimas.[4] Others believe it began due to the international acclaim of the films such as Like Water For Chocolate (1992) due to its nomination for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes. The definition of Nuevo Cine Mexicano also leads to the question, “What is a Mexican film?” meaning is a film Mexican because who makes, who stars, and where it takes place is of Mexican origin [5]


The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema occurred from the 1930s to the 1960s, afterwards a period of low-budget B-movies funded by the state of Mexico were the primary source for films to the Mexican public.[3] A resurgence of Mexican cinema was believed to occurred in the 1970s, however, the success lasted shortly due to the majority of the Mexican public turning to Hollywood films.[2][4]

Prior to the 1990s, the Mexican film industry was primarily funded by the state in coordination with the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografia (Mexican Film Institute of Cinematography), IMCINE. 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 Mexico facing an economy crash in 1994.[3] The IMCINE produced roughly five films a year during the crisis[1][5] 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 along with the generation of 1968 with their filmmaking skills.[2]

One of the most successful filmmakers of the 1990s Generation of Mexican filmmakers, Guillermo del Toro, stated that “In the 80’s there was a huge void in Mexican cinema, then my generation picked up the staff in the early 90s.”[6] However, during the 1970s “technical experimentation” took precedence within the film community, and though 80s films “catered to the lowest common denominator”, the 1990s Generation learned by working together with the filmmakers of the late 60s and 70s.[1]


Considered as a leading film in the Nuevo Cine Mexicano movement, Amores Perros

Social divisions within Mexico is a reoccurring theme within Nuevo Mexicano Cine, including the films Y tu mama tambien, El crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), and Amores Perros. Though the films touch on the “socio-geographic divisions” of Mexico in different ways.[4] In Amores Perros, the economic divisions are portrayed through the differences between the main characters’ homes, El Chivo lives in a “seedy residence” which is then juxtaposed with his daughter’s “respectable home”.[4] With El crimen del Padre Amaro, the traditions of the Catholic Church, which remains a prominent influence in Mexico, is questioned due to a young priest having sex with a teenager leading to the teen’s death from an abortion.[4] Other subjects such as homosexuality and political corruption are briefly touched upon in Y tu mama tambien, helping to set up a background of what Mexico is and isn’t.[7] The two main male characters in the film differ in their social standings involving political connections with their families yet what ultimately breaks their friendship apart is them having sex with one another.[7] Within Nuevo Cine Mexicano, filmmakers try to portray such social and economic troubles within in Mexico through different perspectives, which commonly goes against the sometimes stereotypical portrayals of Mexico and its inhabitants in U.S. and European films.

The characterization of Europeans or foreigners, specifically Spaniards, are relatively negative. In several works in Nuevo Mexicano Cine, the conflict within the story is due to a person of Spanish descent. Either the non-foreigners within the film who associate with the Spaniards are drastically changed or the Spainards themselves meet a tragic end.[4] The filmmakers use this trope in order to recall Mexico’s past, specifically with Spain’s colonization of Mexico.[4]

The style of the films generally mimic the “art house” films of previous decades, since the state of Mexico had one had the largest authority over the production of movies.[7] Directors specifically adopted this style in order to move away from the state and into independent productions, which a majority of Nuevo Mexicano Cine is.[2] Productions studios normally fund one to two million dollars per film, due to the lack of mainstream production.[5] The influence of “NAFTA trade and tax policies” made it harder for the public to fund such productions.[5]

Main Players

Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, 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 premiere directors in their craft. Each produce and use actors and cinematographers from Mexico, even in their Hollywood induced productions.[5]"Poster-boy" actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna also have moved on to several Hollywood productions, yet their popularity in Mexican cinema has proven to endure throughout the years.[5]

European influence

In recent years, particularly since 2000, some directors have made "independent productions looking for more personal expression, under a greater influence of European cinema.[8] The most representative films of this trend are Japón and Batalla en el cielo (Battle in heaven), both directed by Carlos Reygadas. Other films include Mil nubes de paz cercan el cielo, amor, jamás acabrás 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.

Significant Works

References List

  1. 1 2 3 4 Martin, Michael T. (2004). "Mexican Cinema and the 'Generation of the 1990s'". Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media. 45: 115–128.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Maciel, David. "The Cinematic Renaissance of Contemporary Mexico 1985-1992". UC Davis: 70–85.
  3. 1 2 3 Tsao, Leonardo Garcia (2007). "After the Breakthrough of Amores Perros, What's next for Mexican Cinema?". Film Comment. 37: 11–13.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Hind, Emily (2004). "Post-NAFTA Mexican Cinema 1998-2002". Studies in Latin American Popular Culture. 23: 95–111.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Aldama, Frederick Luis (2013). Mex-Cine: Mexican Filmmaking, Production, and Consumption in the Twenty-first Century. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.
  6. Garcia, Chris (April 5, 2002). "The New Migration - "Y Tu Mama" Is Just the Latest in a Trend of Quality Mexican Films Traversing the Rio Grande". Austin American Statesman.
  7. 1 2 3 Menne, Jeff (2007). "A Mexican Nouvelle Vague: The Logic of New Waves Under Globalization". Cinema Journal. 47: 70–92.
  8. González Vargas, Carla; et al. (2006). Rutas del cine mexicano. CONACULTA IMCINE. ISBN 9685893292.
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