Arts, Theater and Film
Alfonso Arau, Laura Esquivel, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexican films, Mexican history
As in literature and art, Mexico’s motion pictures and theater have long dealt with social themes. A leading figure in the film industry was Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez, whose first movie, The Isle of Passion, appeared in 1941. Fernandez’s work won several international awards.
Since the 1940s refugees from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) have contributed significantly to the expansion and quality of motion pictures in Mexico. Among the exiles working in the country, Luis Bunuel was one of the best known. His film Los Olvidados (The Forgotten, 1950), a film about juvenile delinquents in Mexican slums, is considered a classic. Although most Mexican films have not received widespread distribution outside of Mexico, some more recent work has achieved considerable international attention. Like Water for Chocolate (1992)—a film directed and produced by Alfonso Arau and adapted from the novel of the same name written by Laura Esquivel—was a hit in the United States and became the most successful film in Mexican history.
Theater also has a long tradition extending back to the colonial period, including the work of Juana Ines de la Cruz. Many of Mexico’s important directors and playwrights have been supported by various groups at the National University in Mexico City (now National Autonomous University of Mexico).
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