Monday, October 7, 2013

Nuestro Cine: Hellish “Heli”

Last week we looked at the Peruvian and Venezuelan choices for the next Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Today we’ll examine the pick from the Latin American country that has yet to win in that category despite multiple nominations.

Argentine movies “The Secret in Their Eyes” (“El secreto de sus ojos”) and “The Official Story” (“La Historia Oficial”) have been the only Latin American films to revived the Oscar for best fringe film.  Among Latin American countries, Mexico is the one with the most nominations for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with eight finalists starting with 1960’s “Macario” and the most recent one being 2010’s “Biutiful.”

Set amidst the backdrop of the drugs, violence and corruption in Mexico, crime drama “Heli” was selected to represent the country in the upcoming Oscars.  The film marks the debut of several newcomers including Armando Espitia who plays the titular protagonist, a seventeen-year-old whose life is flipped upside down when he discards packages of cocaine that was hidden by a friend in his house.

“Heli” was featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where some critics reportedly walked out of the theater due to its brutal depiction of drug violence in Mexico.  Yet director Amat Escalante strongly defended his movie and called the violence affecting areas of his country as a “virus that is hurting many people.”

“It’s a moral responsibility to show violence as it is: sad and disgraceful, very dirty and a nightmare,” he added.

Despite the criticism, Escalante became the third Mexican in the past seven years to win the Best Director prize at Cannes.

Does “Heli” deserve to be Mexico’s first winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film?  See for yourselves by viewing the film’ trailer below the page break:

October 1st was the deadline for submissions for the top foreign language film at the Oscars.  In January, a nine-film shortlist will be chosen followed by the five finalists.  The Academy Awards will be presented on March 2nd.

Thus far we have looked at three intense dramas, but our next “Nuestro Cine” entry will examine a more light-hearted pick from the Americas.

Video Source – YouTube via user CanalLoftCinema

Online Sources – El Pais; Animal Político; The Hollywood Reporter; The Latin Americanist

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