'Hell' Reigns Supreme at Mexico's Ariel Awards

Academy snubs Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 'Biutiful' for best picture and director noms

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:


Best Picture

El Infierno, Bandidos Films



Luis Estrada, El Infierno



Monica del Carmen, Ano Bisiesto



Damian Alcazar, El Infierno


Supporting Actress

Ofelia Medina, Las Buenas Hierbas


Supporting Actor

Joaquin Cosio, El Infierno


Newcomer Actor

Christopher Ruiz-Esparza, Abel


Original Screenplay

Abel, Augusto Mendoza & Diego Luna



Biutiful, Rodrigo Prieto



El Infierno, Mariana Rodriguez


Original Score

Hidalgo, la Historia Jamas Contada, Alejandro Giocoman



El Infierno, Pablo Lach


Art Design

El Infierno, Salvador Parra & Maria Jose Pizarro



El Atentado, Gilda Navarro & Adolfo Ramirez



El Infierno, Roberto Ortiz


Visual Effects

Las Buenas Hierbas, Alejandro Valle


Special Effects

El Infierno, Alejandro Vazquez


First Work

Ano Bisiesto


Feature-length Documentary

La Historia en la Mirada


Short Fiction Work

El Ultimo Canto del Pajaro Cu


Short Documentary Work

Rio Lerma


Short Animation Work



Ibero-American Picture

Jose Marti, El Ojo del CanarioTambien la Lluvia (Tie)