'Lake Tahoe' tops Ariel Awards

Voters under attack for 'Arrancame la Vida' perceived snub

MEXICO CITY -- Fernando Eimbcke's coming-of-age drama "Lake Tahoe" won honors for best picture and director at the 51st Ariel Awards, yet it was a bittersweet victory as the film academy came under attack throughout Tuesday night's ceremony for snubbing Mexico's foreign-language Oscar submission.

Cine Pantera's "Lake Tahoe," Eimbcke's sophomore feature about a teen coping with his father's death, nabbed best supporting actor for Hector Herrera as well. Paris-based Funny Balloons handles international sales. The night also belonged to Rodrigo Pla's "Desierto Adentro" (The Desert Within), a drama set against the backdrop of Mexico's Cristero War. "Desierto" grabbed eight awards, including best original screenplay, cinematography and actor for Mario Zaragoza. Irene Azuela won best actress for her performance in the Warner Bros. Mexico thriller "Bajo la Sal."

Voting members of the Mexican film academy were criticized throughout the night for overlooking the period piece "Arrancame la Vida" (Tear This Heart Out) for best picture and director nominations. Curiously, the academy had selected "Arrancame" as Mexico's foreign-language Oscar submission. During the event, actor Daniel Gimenez Cacho read a letter signed by members of the Mexican film community urging the academy to broaden its criteria when selecting pictures for the nation's most prestigious film awards.

"The process must be more plural, more prudent and more democratic," the letter said.

If it was any consolation, "Arrancame" picked up four statuettes for adapted screenplay, art design, costume and makeup.

Best documentary and editing went to Eugenio Polgovsky's "Los Herederos" (The Inheritors), a compelling film about child labor in rural Mexico. Yulene Olaizola's documentary "Intimidades de Shakespeare y Victor Hugo" took best first work.

Argentina's "Leonera," which competed at Cannes in 2008, got the nod for Ibero-American picture.

Many attending the ceremony also were surprised that Carlos Cuaron's soccer-themed movie, "Rudo y Cursi," walked away empty handed. "Rudo," starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, garnered eight nominations and was Mexico's domestic boxoffice leader last year.
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