Mexico has selected the 59-year-old Mexican five-time Academy Award winner’sBardoas its official entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar race.
The immersive work stars Daniel Giménez Cacho as a renowned Los Angeles-based Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who, after being named the recipient of a prestigious international award, is compelled to return to his native country, unaware that this simple trip will push him to an existential limit.
The film had its world premiere in its three-hour original version in competition at the Venice Film Festival in early September.
Netflix recently dropped a trailer for the film, which opens theatrically in Mexico on October 27, followed by a limited theatrical release in the U.S., Spain and Argentina on November 4 before rolling out in a global expansion on November 18.
The film will debut December 1 on Netflix.
The work reunites Iñárritu with a number of his longtime collaborators including co-writer Nicolás Giacobone, who also took credits on Birdman and Biutiful.
Bardo — whose full title isBardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths — marks Iñárritu’s first film to be shot in Mexico since Amores Perros, which also represented Mexico at the Academy Awards and was nominated in 2000.
The film also features production design by the designer Eugenio Caballero, who previously won an Academy Award for his work on Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinthand Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, and costume design by Anna Terrazas (The Deuce, Roma).
Outside of the best international film category and its foreign language predecessor, Iñárritu previously won Oscars for Carne y Arena (2018), The Revenant(2016) and Birdman(2015) and was nominated forBabel(2007).
Mexico has garnered eight nominations to date with Roberto Gavaldón’s Macario (1960), Ismael Rodriguez’sThe Important Man (1961), Luis Alcoriza’s The Pearl Of Tiayucan(1963), Miguel Litten’s Letters Of Marusia(1975), Iñárritu’s Amores Perros (2000), Carlos Carrera’s El Crimen del Padre Amaro(2002), Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth(2006) and Iñárritu’s Biutiful(2010).
Cuaron won the country its only Oscar in the category with Roma in 2018.
Diego Luna is being celebrated for his platinum career.
This year’s seventh edition of the Ibero-American Platino Awards (Premios Platinos) will honor the 41-year-old Mexican actor, director, producer and festival organizer with the Platino Award of Honor.
An itinerant award show by design, this year’s Platinos will be held on October 3 in Madrid.
Luna will be the youngest recipient of the career achievement honor, joining previous winners Miguel Rafael Martos Sánchez, often simply referred to as Raphael, one of Spain’s most iconic entertainers of the 20th century; Adriana Barraza, the Oscar nominated Spanish-English-language crossover star of Alejandro Iñárritu’s Babel and Amores Perros; Oscar and three time Primetime Emmy nominee Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver); Oscar nominee Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory); and Primetime Emmy (The Burning Season) and BAFTA (“Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos) nominee Sonia Braga.
A child actor who excelled from an early age, Luna’s first film appearance was in Javier Bourges’ 1991 Mexican Academy Award-nominated short The Last New Year.” He appeared in several telenovelas throughout the ‘90s, joined on screen for the first time by his longtime collaborator and close friend Gael García Bernal in El abuelo y yo in 1992. Alternating between film and television over the next decade, his international breakout came with García Bernal and Spain’s Marbel Verdú in Alfonso Cuarón’s seminal coming-of-age road trip film “Y Tu Mamá También.”
Shortly after, Luna began his Hollywood career appearing alongside Bon Jovi in John Carpenter’s Vampires: Los Muertos and in Salma Hayek’s Oscar-winning biopic Frida.
In the decades since, Luna has continued to work on both Latin American and U.S. productions while also taking turns as a producer, writer and director. He also, again with García Bernal, launched the nomadic documentary film festival Ambulante, as well as their own production label, first Canana in 2005 and now La Corriente del Golfo.
Most recently, he created and hosts the Amazon Original conversation series Pan y Circo and is starring in the Disney+’s Andor, a spinoff series following his Rogue One: A Star Wars Story character Cassian Andor.
He was also recently confirmed as a voice actor for Netflix’s upcoming animated series Maya and the Three, where he will team with frequent collaborator Jorge Gutierrez (The Book of Life).
Last year’s ceremony was, like so many, forced online by the COVID-19 pandemic. But this time around, the Platinos are planning an in-person event to celebrate the best offerings from the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American screen industries.
At 11 nominations each, the two standout titles are Fernando Trueba’s Colombian drama Memories of My Father and Jayro Bustamante’s Guatemalan thriller La Llorona.
The Platino Awards are promoted by EGEDA (Spain’s Entity for the Rights Management of Audiovisual Producers) and FIPCA (the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers) and have the support of the Ibero-American film academies and institutes as well as numerous sponsors in Europe and Latin America.
The 65-year-old Mexican Oscar-nominated actress will serve up some scares in Amazon Studios’ next slate of films in the horror anthology Welcome To The Blumhouse. Barraza will star in Bingodirected and co-written by rising genre filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero. The film is currently in production.
The collaboration is a Latinx-driven narrative that includes two generations of Mexican artists. In this case, Barraza and the up and comer Guerrero.
Set in the barrio of Oak Springs, Bingo follows a strong and stubborn group of elderly friends who refuse to be gentrified. Barraza plays the leader of the pack, Lupita, a “chingona” who grew up in the neighborhood formerly filled with crime and dangerous characters. Lupita has dedicated her life to cleaning up the neighborhood and creating a community the residents could be proud to call home. Little does Lupita and her friends know, their beloved bingo hall (hence the title) is about to be sold to a much more powerful force than money itself.
Bingo continues Amazon Prime Video’s Welcome to the Blumhouse slate of genre, horror-thriller films highlighting female and emerging filmmakers, and diverse casts with new and established actors in unexpected roles. The upcoming 2021 slate for the anthology also includes The Manor, Black as Night, and Madres.
Guerrero co-wrote Bingo with Shane McKenzie and Perry Blackshear. The film comes from Blumhouse Television and Amazon Studios.
Prime Video launched the Welcome to the Blumhouse in October of last year with Black Box, The Lie, Evil Eyeand Nocturne.
Barraza’s career spans more than 40 years in film, television and theater. In 1999, Barraza starred in a breakout role opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in Amores Perros directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who she worked with again in 2006 on Babel. She is one of only six Mexican actresses to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
The 54-year-old three-time Oscar-nominated Mexican cinematographer is earning rave reviews for his work on Taylor Swift’s music video for the pop star’s latest single “Cardigan.”
The top-secret music video, written, directed and styled by Swift, was filmed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The dreamy video, released on Friday, July 24 alongside Swift’s new album Folklore, presents a cottagecore aesthetic and features Swift in three different settings.
The “homespun” and “dreamlike” video starts out with Swift sitting in a candlelit cottage in the woods, wearing a nightgown and playing a vintage upright piano. When the soundboard starts glowing, she climbs into it and is magically transported to a moss-covered forest, where she plays the song on a grand piano producing a waterfall. The piano bench starts to glow and she climbs into it. She gets transported to a dark stormy sea, where she holds on to a floating piano. The piano soundboard glows and she climbs in, and she returns to the cottage, where she dons a cardigan.
“She had the whole storyline – the whole notion of going into the piano and coming out into the forest, the water, going back into the piano,” Prieto tells Rolling Stoneof hisfirst phone call with Swift.
Their last collaboration, on the music video for “The Man,” saw Swift adopting a male alter ego to satirize gender inequality.
From the beginning, though, Prieto says “Cardigan” was always going to be more ambiguous, and more personal: “When she called me and told me that this was more of a fantasy, I found that really appealing.”
This was in early July, when Prieto had simultaneously begun serving on a committee for the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) to conceive solutions for safely resuming film production during the ongoing pandemic.
Prieto had just finished filming a PSA for a healthcare company when Swift asked him to work on “Cardigan,” and he was well aware of the many, many layers of risks involved in the project.
“We needed to be safe, for her sake and for our sake as a crew during the shoot, but also for the future of filmmaking,” he says. “Because we want to keep working and doing what we do, and if, God forbid, someone got sick on one of the first jobs that was filmed, it would probably close down [the industry].”
The extensive safety protocols for the shoot ranged from standard – everybody had to get tested, and every member of the crew wore a mask – to outlandish: Because Swift would need to spend a large part of the shoot not wearing a face covering, the crew used a colored wristband system, determining which members of the team were permitted to stand closest to her. (Prieto, assistant director Joe Osborne, and set designer Ethan Tobman all wore one color, lighting designers and gaffers wore another, and so on.)
Prieto actually wore two face coverings – a mask and an acrylic shield – for most of the day-and-a-half-long shoot. And just to ensure that crew members crossed within a six-foot range of Swift as little as possible, the entire “Cardigan” video was shot by mounting the camera to a robotic arm, which was then controlled by a remote operator.
The “techno arm,” as Prieto calls it, is typically only used in the industry for crane shots and other establishing visuals.
“We were going to use the crane for the ocean scene,” Prieto explains, referencing the shot where the image zooms out on the wide expanse of the water before honing back in on Swift. “So then I said, let’s have it both days.”
Hooking the camera up to a giant robot was the safest way to get close-ups on Swift’s face, Prieto explains. And as unwieldy as that sounds, you’d never know from watching the video that a human being wasn’t behind the lens at all times.
There was, of course, the added tangle of secrecy – the filmmaking had to be done indoors to avoid crowds, and Swift wore an earpiece throughout the shoot to lip-sync to the song without any of the crew hearing it.
The crew built three sets on two stages across one large studio, and in order to create the illusion of natural light for the outdoor scenes, Prieto and his crew draped giant stretches of white bouncing fabric on the walls and ceiling. The process took longer than usual due to COVID, with the lighting crew working in small groups and frequently taking breaks so they could remove masks and catch their breath.
“Filmmaking is a gregarious endeavor by nature,” Prieto says. “People are close to each other, so it’s really hard to remember to keep to yourselves.” Given the distancing on set, it was sometimes tricky for crew members to communicate over reference points and documents – “we had to kind of point at each other” – but Prieto attributes Swift’s clear vision for the project as a guiding light.
Ahead of the shoot, she sent him and Tobman numerous visual references for each scene – a mix of photographs for the dark ocean water and drawings for the fantastical forest sequence. One illustration, of a sword lodged into a rock formation overlooking a creek, was particularly inspiring: “That became our focal interest – we didn’t imitate it, but the feeling of it was what we went with.”
On top of that, Swift came up with a detailed shot list for the video ahead of time, with each visual accompanied by a time sequence within the song.
“The ocean water, the fingers on the piano, whatever it may be, she knew what she wanted for each section,” Prieto says. Unlike with “The Man,” Swift couldn’t be as hands-on with her direction on set – she viewed each take through a video monitor after it was shot – but Prieto was impressed by her ability to “talk with the camera” and utilize cinematic language without formal training, like with the unorthodox, zoom-out-and-in shot over the ocean. “I was blown away, because it’s all metaphorical,” he says. “This video is not just pretty images of things; she’s telling a personal story through her lyrics, her music, and now through the video.”
The video has already been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube since its release.
Prieto previously earned Academy Awards for his lensing work on Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2006), Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2017) and Scorsese’s The Irishman (2020).
His other film credits include Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel (2006) and Biutiful (2010), Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants and Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo.
Gael García Bernal is hitting the ring to play a Lucha Libre legend.
The 41-year-old Mexican actor/filmmaker will star in Cassandro, an independent feature from Oscar winning and two-time Emmy nominee filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.
Cassandro tells the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rises to international stardom after he creates the “exotico” character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” and in the process upends not just the macho wrestling world but also his own life.
Armendáriz at the age of 15 quit school and began training for Lucha Libre, beginning his professional wrestling career in 1988 under the mask as Mister Romano. Ultimately he would abandon the character and take on the exotico character of Baby Sharon. Exoticos are male wrestlers who dress in drag.
Ultimately, Armendáriz would take the new ring name of Cassandro, from a Tijuana brothel keeper Cassandra whom he appreciated.
In January 1991, after bad press that he was going to wrestle El Hijo del Santo in the UWA World Welterweight Championship, Armendáriz reportedly attempted suicide by cutting his wrists with a razor blade, but was saved.
The title match occurred a week later and Armendáriz credits it as the match that earned him the lucha libre community’s acceptance.
While Cassandro failed to win the UWA World Welterweight Championship from El Hijo del Santo, he managed to win his first title, the UWA World Lightweight Championship in October 1992, by defeating Lasser, becoming the first exótico in history to hold a championship in UWA.
Bernal, who will star in M. Night Shyamalan’s new secret movie from Universal, will shoot that movie first before stepping into the ring for Cassandro, which is eyeing a November start in Mexico.
Cassandro will rep the feature narrative directorial debut for Williams, who took home the Oscar for his short docu Music by Prudence in 2010, and recently was nominated at the Emmys a second time, this time in Outstanding Documentary/Nonfiction Special category for the HBO doc The Apollo. That movie, which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, follows the historic and famed Harlem NYC venue and its legacy.
“As a filmmaker, my own life experience has inspired my passion to tell inspirational stories about outsiders and uplift the voices of people we don’t normally see on screen. The true story of Cassandro, Saúl Armendáriz, was one I knew I wanted to tell from the moment I met him. I look forward to being able to bring Saúl’s story to a wide audience,” said Williams.
Williams wrote Cassandro with Emmy-winner David Teague and Julián Herbert (Satelite).
Bernal is a two-time Golden Globe nominee and winner for the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. He was part of the SAG ensemble nominated cast of Paramount’s Babel, and a BAFTA nominee for Focus Features’ 2004 The Motorcycle Diaries.
The filmmakers are reportedly in talks with Amazon to acquire Cassandro once complete, but that deal is contingent on several factors before it’s a negative pick-up.
Alfonso Cuaron’s last project is headed beyond the stream…
The 57-year-old Mexican filmmaker’s Oscar-winning film Roma will be the first Netflix film to get a Blu-Ray and DVD release, due to the Criterion Collection launching a special edition in February.
The release will include five separate documentaries about the creation of the film, and will feature the same 4K master and Dolby Atmos sound that were part of the theatrical release.
Roma won Academy Awards for Cuaron’s directing and cinematography, as well as the foreign-language film Oscar.
Roma follows the Oscar-nominee Yalitza Aparicio, who plays a live-in housekeeper in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. It became Mexico’s first winner of the Oscar for foreign-language feature. The film, produced by Esperanto Filmoj and Participant Media, joined previous foreign-language film nominees Life Is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Letters From Iwo Jima, Babel, and Amour as a nominee in the best picture category.
Roma is also the first Netflix film to be added to the Criterion Collection. The documentaries include “Road to Roma,” about the making of the film, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and an interview with Cuarón; “Snapshots from the Set”; documentaries about the sound, post-production processes, the theatrical campaign and social impact in Mexico.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is representing Mexico in France in a big way…
The 55-year-old Mexican filmmaker, a four-time Academy Award winner, has been selected as the president of the Cannes Film Festival jury.
He will head the Official Selection competition at the 72nd edition of the highly regarded festival, and will be the first Mexican artist to sit in the position.
Inarritu’s relationship with the fest goes back to when his film Amores Perros won the Critics’ Week sidebar back in 2000. From there, he would be a mainstay, winning director honors for Babel in 2006.
In 2010, Biutiful screened at the fest while his VR project installation Carne y Arenawas an official selection in 2017.
“Cannes is a festival that has been important to me since the beginning of my career,” said Inarritu in a statement. “I am humbled and thrilled to return this year with the immense honor of presiding over the Jury. Cinema runs through the veins of the planet and this festival has been its heart. We on the jury will have the privilege to witness the new and excellent work of fellow filmmakers from all over the planet. This is a true delight and a responsibility, that we will assume with passion and devotion.”
Pierre Lescure, Cannes President, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, are “delighted” that Inarritu accepted the invitation. “Not only is he a daring filmmaker and a director who is full of surprises, Alejandro is also a man of conviction, an artist of his time,” they said in a joint statement.
The Cannes Film Festival will take place from May 14-25.
Rodrigo Prieto is stepping into the director’s chair…
The 51-year-old Mexican cinematographer, who has worked on films such as Martin Scorcese’s Silence and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, will make his directorial debut with the revenge thriller Bastard.
Based on an original script penned by Bill Gullo, Bastard is a taut revenge thriller with a riveting antagonist at its core, set against a looming flood that will ravage the small town of Bird’s Point, Missouri.
A Mexico-City native, Prieto started his career shooting television commercials at the age of 22 before moving into features in 1992. He broke out into the film scene with his work on Amores Perros, which kicked off his collaboration with director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Prieto boasts a top-notch list of film credits including Julie Taymor’s Frida; Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile; Spike Lee’s 25th Hour; Iñárritu’s 21 Grams andBabel;Oliver Stone’s Alexander; Kevin Macdonald’s State of Play; Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces; Francis Laurence’s Water for Elephants; Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo; Lee’s Brokeback Mountain; Ben Affleck’s Argo; and a clutch of Scorcese titles.
He’s most recently worked on HBO series Vinyland Silence, the latter of which saw him earn an Oscar nomination.
Prieto directed his first short film Likeness, starring Elle Fanning, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2018.