'Gravity' Director Alfonso Cuaron Gets Astronomical Oscar Praise in Native Mexico

11:02 AM PST 03/03/2014 by John Hecht
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Alfonso Cuaron

Gael Garcia Bernal and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu sent their congrats to Cuaron, while local media are also raving about Mexican-born supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong'o.

MEXICO CITY -- Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron is getting some serious Oscar love in his native Mexico after making history as the first Latin American to win an Academy Award for best director.

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Cuaron's space thriller Gravity walked away with seven Academy Awards Sunday evening, including best director and film editing for Cuaron and best cinematography for fellow countryman Emmanuel Lubezki.

Morning talk shows on Televisa and TV Azteca focused their daily dose of celebrity gossip on all things Oscar, namely the accomplishments of Cuaron, Lubezki and Mexican-born Lupita Nyong'o for her supporting actress win in 12 Years a Slave. The Mexico City daily La Prensa called Oscar night "Noche Mexicana" (Mexican Night).

Friends and industry colleagues offered heartfelt kudos as well. Gael Garcia Bernal, who co-starred in Cuaron's hit road trip movie Y Tu Mama Tambien, tweeted the following to Cuaron: "Tears of emotion" and "I love you man."

Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu likened Cuaron and Lubezki's work on Gravity to the Lumieres' Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat for its ability to have such a profound impact on audiences' visual and sensory experiences.

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Even President Enrique Pena Nieto chimed in on Twitter offering the Mexican winners his congratulations for their extraordinary work.

Some Mexicans, however, had a different take on all the Gravity Oscar buzz leading up to Sunday evening's ceremony. Carlos Puig, a columnist for the Mexican daily Milenio, reminded his readers that Gravity was a non-Mexican, Hollywood production and criticized the nationalistic praise for this year's Mexican-born Oscar contenders.

In an article titled "Cuaron's Oscar Will Not Be for Mexico," Puig cautioned that a Cuaron victory would not signify a return to Mexico's Golden Era of Cinema as some local media outfits have suggested. Said Puig, "I'm not a film critic, but I have the impression that [Cuaron films] A Little Princess, Harry Potter, Children of Men and Gravity cannot be classified as Mexican cinema."

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Cuaron himself has acknowledged that Gravity is a universal film that was directed, written and edited by a Mexican. And while the film indeed has little or nothing to do with Mexico's film industry, the good news is that Mexican cinema has seen a significant turnaround since 2001, when Cuaron directed his last feature (Y Tu Mama Tambien) on native soil. Production output has soared, indie films regularly triumph at top-tier international festivals and homegrown fare is performing exceptionally well at the box office.

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