'Hell' Reigns Supreme at Mexico's Ariel Awards
Mexico City -- Luis Estrada's narco-themed satire El Infierno (Hell) swept the 53rd annual Ariel Awards on Saturday, winning nine of Mexico's top film prizes, including best picture and director.
Produced, directed and co-written by Estrada, Hell is a dark comedy that revolves around a migrant worker who returns to Mexico after laboring for 20 years in the U.S., only to find that his small town is overrun with drug traffickers.
"It's a theme that has taken on a dimension that nobody had imagined three or four years ago," said Estrada in reference to Mexico's ongoing drug war.
Hell grossed $7.1 million, making it last year's No. 2 box office earner. Damian Alcazar, who plays a good guy-turned-mafioso, won best actor for his performance in Hell. Best actress went to Monica del Carmen for Ano Bisiesto (Leap Year), which nabbed the Cannes Film Festival Camera d'Or last year. Written and directed by freshman helmer Michael Rowe, Leap Year also got the nod for best first work.
Two films tied for best Ibero-American picture: the Cuba-Spain co-production Jose Marti, El Ojo del Canario and Spain's Tambien la Lluvia (Even the Rain).
Diego Luna's feature debut Abel took home best original screenplay. The film made its world premiere last year at Sundance.
Hell was the favorite going into Saturday night's ceremony. But many industry people here found it inexplicable that the Mexican film academy submitted Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful as Mexico's foreign-language Oscar submission, yet the Academy Award nominee failed to land Ariel noms in the best picture and director categories.
The vote for the Ariel nominees had a typically poor turnout with only 86 of 788 academy members casting ballots to honor the best in Mexican cinema. Adding insult to injury, the film academy is teetering on the brink of extinction due to lack of funds, said academy president Carlos Carrera.
A complete winners list follows:
El Infierno, Bandidos Films
Luis Estrada, El Infierno
Monica del Carmen, Ano Bisiesto
Damian Alcazar, El Infierno
Ofelia Medina, Las Buenas Hierbas
Joaquin Cosio, El Infierno
Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Abel
Abel, Augusto Mendoza & Diego Luna
Biutiful, Rodrigo Prieto
El Infierno, Mariana Rodriguez
Hidalgo, la Historia Jamas Contada, Alejandro Giocoman
El Infierno, Pablo Lach
El Infierno, Salvador Parra & Maria Jose Pizarro
El Atentado, Gilda Navarro & Adolfo Ramirez
El Infierno, Roberto Ortiz
Las Buenas Hierbas, Alejandro Valle
El Infierno, Alejandro Vazquez
La Historia en la Mirada
Short Fiction Work
El Ultimo Canto del Pajaro Cu
Short Documentary Work
Short Animation Work
Jose Marti, El Ojo del Canario & Tambien la Lluvia (Tie)