According to a2zgov, the pioneer and father of Mexican cinema was the engineer Salvador Toscano Barragan (1872-1947), who filmed from 1897 to 1917, with a camera similar to that of the Lumière operators, 50,000 meters of Mexican history and revolutions: films were edited and presented by his daughter at the Cannes Film Festival in 1954 under the title of Memorias de un mexicano. In the whole silent period, dominated by melodramas drawn from the Spanish theater, El automóvil gris (1919) by Enrique Rosas stands out, a detective story in episodes on the criminal enterprises of a gang in cars for the various districts of the country, rendered with unusual freshness; it was so successful that, later with soundtrack, it continued to hold the bill until the 1950s. While some “stars” had already been absorbed by Hollywood (Ramón Novarro, Lupe Vélez, Dolores Del Río), in the Thirties Mexico found itself hosting foreign filmmakers such as SM Ejzenštejn, who with the fragments of ¡Que viva México! shot in 1931-32 left an indelible mark; the Russian actor Arcady Boytler, who with RJ Sevilla directed La mujer del puerto in 1933 and in 1938 launched the comedian Antonio Moreno called Cantinflas; the Americans Fred Zinnemann, director, and Paul Strand, photographer, who with the young Emilio Gómez Muriel made, in a fishing bay, the important social film Redes (or The rebels of Alvarado, 1934). Among the Mexican directors of the period, Fernando de Fuentes, author in 1934 of Vámonos with Pancho Villa, paved the way for the national cinema of the 1940s, the one known throughout the world, by Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa, by Dolores Del Río, Pedro Armendariz and María Félix, exploded internationally with María Candelaria (1943). Raíces, an episodic film by Benito Alazraki produced by Manuel Barbachano Ponce (one of the very few enlightened producers), which for the moment (1953) did not have a sequel, can be considered an interesting appendix. Starting with Buñuel’s Los olvidados (1950), the new decade marked the artistic domination of Spanish immigrants: not only by Buñuel, the undisputed master of the new generations, but also by Carlos Velo (¡Torero!,1956), JM García Ascot (En el balcón vacío, 1960) and Luis Alcoriza who, formerly Buñuel’s screenwriter, went on to direct himself to film social behaviors (Tiburoneros, 1963) of dispossessed populations.
Towards the middle of the 1960s there was talk of a “new cinema” also in Mexico and at the end of the decade an independent movement arose to oppose the general trend of production: a cinema that, if not “revolutionary” like that of Solanas in Argentina or that of Sanjinés in Bolivia, however, contested the old structures. Among the directors who established themselves at that juncture we should mention A. Ripstein, F. Cazals, JH Hermosillo, A. Isaac. In 1971 the cinema was nationalized; in 1972 P. Leduc made Reed: México insurgente; in 1974 the Cineteca Nacional de México was born; in 1975 Actas de Marusia was produced M. Littín from the Chilean exile and the Frente Nacional de Cinematografistas was created, grouping a dozen directors (the aforementioned, plus S. Olhovich, JM Torres, GM Ortega, J. Estrada and the sympathizers Leduc, G. Retes, F. Weingarsthofer) who with the manifesto of November 19 pronounced themselves for a decisive turning point, which however took place more on the level of content than on that of language. However in Canoa (1976) Cazals joined Littín in giving the chronicle of a reactionary massacre (which took place in San Miguel de Canoa in 1968) and Leduc was able to shoot the documentary Etnocidio on the Otomi people of the Mezquital region. The low costs and the exoticism of the places have often allowed international productions to shoot considerable films there (remember Dune, 1984, by D. Lynch; Santa Sangre, 1989, by A. Jodorowski; Puerto Escondido, 1992, by G. Salvatores), while Jaime Humberto Hermosillo ‘s exploit with the savory La tarea (1991) appeared remarkable in a qualitatively modest panorama. Since the nineties, a certain artistic awakening has not failed to be caught internationally. First of all, it should be noted the emergence of Carlos Carrera with Benjamin’s La donna (1991); but it is above all with Arturo Ripstein that the national cinema was able to count an author to follow carefully, thanks to titles such as Beginning and End (1993), winner of the San Sebastián Film Festival, The Queen of the Night (1994) and above all the grotesque thriller Profundo Carmesì (1996). If Robert Rodriguez with El Mariachi (1992) directed a wild western homage to the cinema of Leone and Peckinpah, Daniel Gruener remained tied to the traditional national school of genre horror, creating a funny Sobrenatural (1996) that launched him towards Hollywood. The new names that emerged in the early 2000s are those of Alejandro González Iñárritu (b.1963), author of Amores perros (2000), 21 grams (2003) and Babel (2006), Alfonso Cuarón (b.1961), director of Y tu mamá también (2001) and Children of Men (2006), Guillermo del Toro (b.1964) director of El laberinto del fauno (2006). Among the actors we note Salma Hayek (b. 1966), now firmly in the Hollywood elite. In recent years, the Festival Internacional de Cine de Monterrey has assumed progressive importance for the entire Latin American film sector.