Felipe Cazals was “the black mirror of Mexican reality”

This Thursday afternoon, the Mexican film director, screenwriter and producer Felipe Cazals, consolidated as one of the fundamental figures of Mexican cinematography, visionary, initiator of a gap in independent filmmaking, sensitive to the turbulent events of our Mexico In different adverse scenarios for the freedom of creation and expression, who on October 16 lost the battle against esophageal cancer will be worthy of a posthumous tribute paid by the seventh art community at the Churubusco Studios headquarters.

Convened by the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (Imcine), the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences (AMACC), Channel 22, the Mexican Society of Directors and said studies, the honors will be held in the THX Room of the complex and also, As was the will of the director of films such as Canoa (1975) and Las Poquianchis (1976), colored flowers will be placed at the foot of the Ariel sculpture in the same venue.

The arguments of an essential filmmaker

To join the tribute, El Economista talks with José Antonio Valdés Peña, one of the most influential film critics in the country, teacher, film researcher and author of books such as Buñuel, a look at the 20th century and Operas prima del cine Mexicano (1988- 2000), also a ward of the honoree.

“You cannot understand Mexico without the cinema of Felipe Cazals”, that is what those who know about Mexican cinema, critics and directors have agreed on in recent days, since the director’s departure, shares Valdés Peña.

“I had the pleasure of being one of the many students that Maestro Cazals had throughout his life. He was a man very interested in, as he said, passing the post of the cinema trade. For him it was a job that had to be honored with dignity, but there was also the need to make that job a critical weapon ”.

Cazals, the researcher shares, knew how to portray that rough, violent Mexico, full of social abysses that end up causing tragedies like the one that occurred in the town of San Miguel Canoa on September 14, 1968, with the shocking lynching of five young people in a a very convulsive year and portrayed by the filmmaker in his 1975 film. But also the murky events of our public life, such as, for example, the actions of pimps and serial killers, the “Poquianchis”, who between 1945 and 1964, at least officially, they killed more than 90 victims. Not to mention the black legend of El apando, a fact that was written by José Revueltas and made into a movie in 1975.

“He was a portraitist of that Mexican reality, but he was also a man very interested in reviewing the history of our country and looking at the antiheroes, not the celebrated heroes but those who were pointed out as the bad guys in the story, like Antonio López de Santa Anna (in Your Serene Highness, 2004) or Porfirio Díaz, whose presidency was seen as a cluster of excesses in Las vueltas del citrillo (2005). Those passages that are the B-side of the story also make his cinema very important, ”says Valdés Peña.

On the other hand, points out the critic, in a moment of questioning about gender inequality in the country, Cazals’s cinema also comes into force, with films such as Los Motivos de Luz (1985), Las inocentes (1986) and Digna… until the last breath (2004). “In them he takes up Mexican women who are surrounded by the same social violence that drives them to make tragic decisions about their lives.”

All of the above, he details, “made him an essential filmmaker in a Mexican cinema that then, due to a commercial issue or reluctance to educate the public, turned around the important problems. But Felipe Cazals was the black mirror where the Mexican reality was set in a very strong way, through a latent violence that awaits the moment to explode. He was an uncomfortable character for a cinematography that did not dare to confront present or past realities, a man who never applied self-censorship ”.

The gap and the legacy

Maestro Cazals, says his pupil, “was part of a generation that had to open a path that current directors continue to take advantage of: for auteur cinema, of personal expression. The legacy is among us, to whom he taught how cinema was loved, how to respect a profession. I do not think that a filmmaker like him has left disciples, because he is unique and unrepeatable, but when you see the work of filmmakers like Everardo González, Tatiana Huezo, Francisco Vargas and many more whose cinema opens the possibility of a social conscience, there you recognize the legacy of the teacher Cazals ”.

They stand out in his filmic legacy:

  • Canoe (1975)
  • The Apando (1975)
  • The Poquianchis (1976)
  • The Year of the Plague (1978)
  • Luz’s Motives (1985)
  • The innocents (1988)
  • Her Serene Highness (2000)
  • Worthy … until the last breath (2004)
  • The turns the citrillo (2006)

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