By Jake Howell jake.howell@utoronto.ca

Countdown To Cannes: Amat Escalante

AMAT ESCALANTE

Background: Mexican; born Barcelona, Spain, 1979.

Known for / style: Sangre (2005) and Los Bastardos (2008); a member of Nuevo Cine Mexicano (New Mexican cinema); collaborating with Carlos Reygadas; narratives that touch upon immigration, drug culture, sexual abuse, and violence.

Notable accolades: At the top of Escalante’s awards shelf is his FIPRESCI prize for Sangre (2005) when it debuted in Un Certain Regard. Outside of Cannes, the Bratislava International Film Festival has been good to Escalante, bestowing upon him Best Director and a Student Jury Award for Los bastardos (2008). The Thessaloniki International Film Festival gave Sangre its second-place Silver Alexander in 2005, with a purse of €22,000, while Sundance gave Escalante’s latest, Heli, a $10,000 check in the form of the NHK Award in 2010.

Previous Cannes appearances: A product of the Festival, both of Escalante’s features have played in Un Certain Regard (Sangre and Los Bastardos). 2013 marks his first time in Competition.

Film he’s bringing to Cannes: Heli, a drama shot and set in Escalante’s town of Guanajuato, Mexico. When 12-year-old Estela falls madly in love with a young police officer, the violence of the region strikes her family and complicates her plans to marry the cadet. The film features unknowns Armando Espitia, Andrea Vergara, Linda Gonzalez and Juan Eduardo Palacios.

Could it win the Palme? With fellow Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas winning Best Director at Cannes last year (Post Tenebras Lux), the doors may have opened for Escalante to follow his success, if the film holds up (fitting, as Reygadas holds a producer’s credit on Heli). Escalante, who was assistant director on Reygadas’ Battle in Heaven (2005), has yet to compete for the Palme, meaning his jump from Un Certain Regard to the Competition is something Thierry Frémaux felt was the next step in Escalante’s budding career. And if the jury is looking for an extra reason to give Escalante some love, well—Mexico hasn’t been attached to a Palme d’Or in over forty years, and given the real (and very brutal) drug violence that occurs in modern-day Mexico, Heli’s external relevance could be off the charts.

Why you should care: Working alongside his friend and producer Carlos Reygadas, Cannes has chosen Escalante to join the established auteurs. While he has yet to gain major traction with North American audiences, that could change in but a few weeks’ time. From a cinephile’s perspective, however, Heli sounds intriguing and powerful; a devastating look at a horrible problem plaguing the Mexican landscape at large.

2 Responses to “Countdown To Cannes: Amat Escalante”

  1. mimi bates says:

    I HAVE JUST COME FROM SEEING HELI.
    I HAD WANTED TO SPEAK BUT TIME WAS OUT. JUST TO SAY THAT I ALMOST LEFT THE THEATER BECAUSE I FELT OVERWHELMED W/ PAIN, HOWEVER MANAGED TO STAY TILL THE END AND OVERJOYED THAT I DID. A WONDERFUL FILM, EXTREMELY COMPELLING, AND BRILLIANTLY EXECUTED.
    I AM A VISUAL ARTIST AND CONTRARY TO THE GENTLEMAN THAT SPOKE REGARDING THE FACT THAT ENOUGH SCRIPT WAS NOT USED. FOR ME IT WAS PERFECT. THE CAST, THE DRAMA, AND THE CINEMATOGRAPHY TOLD IT ALL.
    I AM A VISUAL ARTIST,(ABSTRACT) PAINTER/MIXED MEDIA. AT TIMES, I HAVE WIPED OUT HALF A PAINTING FROM MY CANVAS BECAUSE IT “SAYS” TOO MUCH.
    NOW I HAVE USED TOO MANY WORDS TO EXPLAIN WHAT I AM WRITING TO YOU ABOUT!
    BUENO, SOLO QUIERO DICIR: BRAVO,Y MUCHISIMO GRACIA POR SU TALENTO Y ESTE PELICULA ESPECTACULO! KUDOS ENORME!!!!!
    MIMI BATES

  2. mimi bates says:

    I HAVE JUST COME FROM SEEING HELI.
    I ALMOST LEFT THE THEATER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FILM BECAUSE I FELT OVERWHELMED W/ PAIN, HOWEVER MANAGED TO STAY TILL THE END AND OVERJOYED THAT I DID. A WONDERFUL FILM, EXTREMELY COMPELLING AND BRILLIANTLY EXECUTED.
    I AM A VISUAL ARTIST, AND CONTRARY TO THE GENTLEMAN THAT SPOKE REGARDING THE FACT THAT ENOUGH SCRIPT WAS NOT USED, FOR ME IT WAS PERFECT. THE CAST, THE DRAMA AND THE CINEMATOGRAPHY TOLD IT ALL.
    I AM A VISUAL ARTIST (ABSTRACT)PAINTER/MIXED MEDIA. AT TIMES I HAVE WIPED OUT HALF A PAINTING FROM MY CANVAS BECAUSE IT “SAYS” TOO MUCH.
    NOW I HAVE USED TOO MANY WORDS TO EXPLAIN WHAT I AM WRITING TO YOU ABOUT!
    BUENO, SOLO QUIERO DICIR BRAVE Y MUCHISMO GRACIAS POR SU TALENTO Y ESTE PELICULA ESPECTACULO!

Quote Unquotesee all »

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~ Quentin Tarantino

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