Awards season

Look beyond the red carpet to discover the stories behind this year's award winners...

Image from Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Image: BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE), (aka BIRDMAN), Michael Keaton, back: Rakesh Shah, 2014. / ™ and © Fox Searchlight Pictures. All rights reserved. / Courtesy Everett Collection / Mary Evans Picture Library

The rise and rise of Mexican cinema

The international flourishing of Mexican cinema has been reflected in awards success. Mexican directors Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro won Academy Awards for Best Picture for Birdman in 2015, and The Shape of Water in 2017, and, following his wins for Best Picture and Best Director at the BAFTAs, Alfonso Cuarón won awards for Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography at the 2019 Academy Awards for Roma, his semi-autobiographical tale that follows the life of a housekeeper in 1970s Mexico City. Read more about the film’s historical context in Niamh Thornton's discussion of the 1968 Revolution and the Corpus Christi or El Halconazo massacre of student protestors.

Image from Y Tu Mamá También
Image: Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN, Maribel Verdú, Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, © 20th Century Fox. © Ronald Grant Archive, courtesy Mary Evans Picture Library

Discover more about Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro's early film-making career and the story of how their movies Y Tu Mamá También and The Devil's Backbone came to be made in this interview with the director, Cuarón's brother and collaborator Carlos Cuarón, actor Gael García Bernal and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezski. In their book on the filmmaker, authors Keith McDonald and Roger Clark discuss why the themes of memory, childhood and a traumatic national history loom so large in the work of del Toro and other Mexican directors.

Image from Malcolm X
Image: MALCOLM X, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, 1992. © Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection / Mary Evans Picture Library

Black film and the African-American experience

With the critical and commercial success of movies directed by and starring African Americans, 'Black cinema' seems to be entering a new golden period, at the same time as the African-American community continues to live with the toxic legacy of slavery and segregation. But what is a 'Black film' anyway? Heather Ashley Hayes and Gilbert B. Rodman ponder this question in 'Thirteen Ways to Look at a Black Film'. In an edition of Projections journal devoted to New York cinema, filmmaker Spike Lee, director of movies including BlacKkKlansman (2018) – winner of Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2019 Academy Awards – and Malcolm X (1992) reflects on his filmmaking practice, in which the African-American experience has always been central.

Homepage image: EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO [MEX / SP / US 2006] aka PAN'S LABYRINTH © Ronald Grant Archive, courtesy Mary Evans Picture Library