'Three amigos' seek film industry support


MEXICO CITY -- Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron, fresh off a raft of awards season accolades, met this week with Mexico's new president to urge more support for the struggling national film industry.

The trio said on a Tuesday morning news program that they recently met with President Felipe Calderon in a bid to garner more backing for the industry. They added that they plan to meet with lawmakers Wednesday.

The three filmmakers, who also produce movies, are pressuring the federal government to create better distribution and exhibition opportunities for local production companies. Of about 60 films produced here in 2006, only half hit theaters.

They also would like to see Mexico's television networks become more involved in film production as numerous European broadcasters have done.

There are signs that the government is showing more interest in film. Last week, a new tax incentive went into effect that should help boost domestic production considerably.

Del Toro, Cuaron and Gonzalez Inarritu, close friends and collaborators, have vowed to use their success this awards season as leverage to demand more support for the Mexican film industry. Del Toro's dark fantasy "Pan's Labyrinth" won three Oscars, Gonzalez Inarritu's drama "Babel" picked up one Academy Award, and Cuaron's sci-fi thriller "Children of Men" was nominated for three.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, del Toro said the time was right to push for more legislative measures that would aid the industry.

"I think we have been garnering weapons to demand attention to support an industry that has been neglected for so many years," he said.

The so-called "three amigos," who spend the better part of their time living and working abroad these days, are in Mexico City to attend Tuesday's Ariel Awards ceremony, where the nation's top film prize is handed out. With 12 Ariel nominations, including best picture and director, the Mexico-Spain co-production "Pan's Labyrinth" is the favorite in a field of 11 Mexican features.