The Frida Cinema Film Event Post #32


Polyester poster

Adding a whiff of “Odorama” to Frida After Dark is Polyester, a comic classic from Director of the Month John Waters.

Hefty housewife Francine (Divine) and her extremely dysfunctional family, are the black sheep of their middle upper-class Baltimore suburb. With her adult movie theatre owner husband cheating on her, their delinquent teenage children running amok, and her cocaine-sniffing superficial mother constantly berating her weight, Francine turns to alcohol. Suddenly, her life and family begin to turn around as she starts a romance with the dashing Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter), but is this new romance really all it’s cracked up to be?

Presented with scratch-n-sniff Odorama cards, Polyester is truly a film experience unlike anything you’ve ever smelled.

“Only John Waters would think of marrying Douglas Sirk melodrama to William Castle showmanship.” – Matt Brunson, Film Frensy

“Polyester is definitely one of Water’s best films, and I highly recommend attending an ‘Odorama’ screening for a unique night at the movies.” – Mark Stafford, Electric Sheep





The Frida Cinema Film Event Post #31

Pink Flamingos + Female Trouble Double Feature

Pink Flamingos poster

Wrapping up Director of the Month John Water’s holiday filth-tacular is a double feature of his funniest and filthiest films, Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble.


Pink Flamingos

An infamous celluloid counter-culture explosion, Pink Flamingos stars regular John Waters collaborator and legendary drag queen Divine as an exaggerated version of her outrageous self. In this case, she’s a trash-talking hedonist who fancies herself “the filthiest person alive” and lives in a motor home with her mad hippie son Crackers, her “traveling companion” Cotton, and her infantile mother Edie, who spends her days gorging on eggs in a giant crib. When Baltimore locals Connie and Raymond Marble – “two jealous perverts” who sell heroin to schoolchildren and kidnap and impregnate female hitchhikers – decide that they themselves are “the filthiest people alive,” this sets off an epic battle of wills that culminates in a shocking climax and a most infamous final scene.


Female Trouble

Divine returns in Female Trouble, her second shamefully side-splitting collaboration with Waters. This rollercoaster adventure follows the life of bad girl teen Dawn Davenport (Divine), who only wants a pair of cha-cha heels for Christmas. When she doesn’t get them, Dawn runs away, gets pregnant, and falls into a life of crime with her high-school pals Chiclette and Concetta. Through a series of comedically deplorable events including an acid attack to the face, Dawn becomes a model for two deranged salon owners, playing into her notion that “crime and beauty are the same.”

Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble are both rated NC-17.

No one under 17 will be admitted and viewer discretion is strongly advised.

The Frida Cinema Film Event Post #30

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas poster

Frida After Dark is making Christmastime with Henry Selick’s macabre holiday tale The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, grows tired of the holiday and wishes to try something new. When he accidentally comes across Christmas Town, he is inspired by what he sees and decides to put his own twist on the wintertime celebration. With the help of his friends, they make Christmas their own, but with decidedly disastrous results.

Filled with breathtaking stop-motion imagery, The Nightmare Before Christmas is an unconventional take on the holiday season as well as one of producer Tim Burton’s most beloved films.

“Part Avant-garde art film, part amusing but morbid fairy tale, it is a delightfully ghoulish holiday musical that displays more inventiveness in its brief 75 minutes than some studios can manage in an entire year” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Burton and his collaborators present a movie musical that’s unlike nothing you’ve sever seen.” – Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

“Visually a macabre knockout, this 75-minute fantasy boasts some of the wittiest, most vigorous stop-motion animation effects in the history if the process.” – John Hartl, Seattle Times

The Frida Cinema Film Event Post #29

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Celebrate this holiday season with an out of this world presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring our very own resident shadow-cast K.A.O.S.!

Director Jim (Don’t squeeze the…) Sharman’s cult classic stars Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as Brad and Janet, two virginal small-town lovers whose car breaks down in the shadows of a creepy old castle, where they encounter an odd collective of “unconventional conventionalists” gathered to witness transvestite scientist’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s latest creation – a muscular man named Rocky.  As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including tap-dancing Columbia, rocking biker Eddie, and of course, the castle’s “Sweet Transvestite” himself, Frank-N-Furter!

Adapted from the 1973 stage musical by Richard O’Brien, this glam cult classic is a cinematic experience unlike any other. Sing-along (and shout-along!) to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a classic that still packs houses almost 50 years since its release!




The Frida Cinema Blog Post #11

Hola Mexico Film Festival


Hola Mexico Film Festival


The Frida Cinema is proud to be the Orange County host for this year’s Hola Mexico Film Festival, running November 15 through 21! A festival dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming Mexican filmmakers of all genres, it will also serve as a celebration of Mexican experience and culture. Fans of Spanish-language films and foreign cinema in general are invited to witness the new wave of Mexican movies at this unique week-long event!

The Good Girls poster

The Good Girls (2019)

Directed by Alejandra Marquez Abella

November 15

Surrounded by extravagant luxury, Sofía de Garay (Ilse Salas) lives in a dreamlike cloud of opulence in 1980s Mexico City. Her days are filled with lavish soirees, designer dresses, country-club tennis matches, and all the pleasures reserved for the upper crust. In this world, appearances are everything and friendships are only as strong as your financial status.

However, when Mexico’s 1982 economic crisis hits her husband’s business hard, the elegant lifestyle Sofia is accustomed to falls to pieces right before her eyes. Soon, her arrogance turns into desperation, as she is forced to confront her new reality. It’s only in her infatuation with Spanish singer Julio Iglesias that Sofia finds solace from the unbearable turmoil.

Alejandra Márquez Abella’s second feature film is a sumptuous examination of the privileged few trapped in their artificial microcosm of hypocrisy, superficiality, and immense loneliness.



Mirreyes vs Godinez

Mirreyes vs. Godinez (2019)

Directed by Chava Cartas

November 16

Genaro Rodríguez (Daniel Tovar), a young “godín” (a colloquial term that refers to low-level office workers), is a loyal employee of Kuri & Sons. His boss, Don Francisco Kuri, sees him like a son and trusts him completely with the business. However, circumstances change when Don Francisco dies and his real son, Santiago (Pablo Lyle), a spoiled “mirrey” (a term that refers to a young person from a wealthy family), decides to take over the company even if he has no skills to so.

Afraid that Santiago and his fellow “mirreyes” will bankrupt the company he’s worked so hard to build, Genaro bands with the company’s other “godínez” to fight to keep their jobs. While being so intensely focused in their dispute, both groups lose sight of their real enemy: someone who is planning to destroy the company from within.

A new comedy from Chava Cartas, this film explores class and power dynamics in Mexican society from a humorous and light-hearted point of view.



Guie'dani's Navel poster

Guie’dani’s Navel (2018)

Directed by Xavi Sala

November 16

Featuring a star-making performance by lead actress Sótera Cruz, this unique coming-of-age narrative explores the racism encountered by indigenous people in Mexico. Guie’dani (Cruz) is a Zapotec teenager who moves to Mexico City with her mother to work as a housekeeper for an upper-middle-class family. There, their language is mocked and psychological subjugation is inflicted. Yet through it all, Guie’dani rejects the life of servitude and seeks her own identity through a friendship with another rebellious teen.



108 Costuras poster

108 Stitches (2018)

Directed by Fernando Kalife

November 17

Since they were young, Mauricio and Reynaldo dreamed of becoming professional baseball players. Together, they spent their days playing and imagining themselves in the Major Leagues until they managed to be admitted into Mexico’s most prestigious academy.

Years later, thanks to their talent and determination, the friends become an indestructible duo. At the height of his career, the great friendship between these two dreamers is soon threatened by the pressures of fame, success, and million-dollar contracts.



Como Si Fuera poster

Como Si Fuera La Primera Vez (2019)

Directed by Mauricio Valle

November 17

Diego (Vadhir Derbez) is a marine biologist committed to his work until his career takes him to the Dominican Republic, where he meets Luci (Ximena Romo). Despite the clear attraction between them from the beginning, the next day Luci does not remember him because, due to injuries sustained in a car accident years ago, her memory is erased every night.

Convinced that she is the woman of his dreams, Diego is willing to do anything to win Luci’s heart, even if that means having to find a new way to conquer her and her overprotective family every day.



Dulce Familia poster

Dulce Familia (2019)

Directed by Nicholas Lopez

November 18

A bittersweet comedy with a message of body positivity and acceptance, Dulce Familia follows five women from different generations, all of whom have struggled with dieting, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and an insatiable sweet tooth.

Talented baker Tami (a transformed Fernanda Castillo) is in a wonderful relationship with her loving fiancé (played by Vadhir Derbez), but others don’t think that’s enough. Ignoring her happiness, Tami’s family is adamant for her to lose weight before getting married.

Feeling insecure and aching to please them, Tami submits herself to torturous regimens in order to fit in her mother’s wedding dress. Renowned actress Florinda Mesa (known for playing La Chilindrina and Doña Florinda) is Tami’s judgmental mother for whom superficial beauty carries more weight than personality. Regina Blandón and Paz Bascuñán appear as her equally critical sisters.



Si Yo Fuera Tu poster

If I Were You (2019)

Directed by Alejandro Lubezki

November 19

A new take on the body swap sub-genre, this hilarious comedy tells the story of Claudia (Sophie Alexander) and Antonio (Juan Manuel Bernal), a couple which has been married for 15 years. With time their relationship has turned lackluster and meaningful communication is nonexistent.

One night following a heated argument, the rare planetary alignment of Venus, Earth, and Mars causes a shocking transformation. Antonio’s consciousness is now in Claudia’s body and vice versa, which will give them an opportunity to empathize with the other person’s daily life and reconnect with each other.



My Best Friend's Wedding poster

My Best Friend’s Wedding (2019)

Directed by Ceslo Garcia

November 20

This reimagining of the classic 90s romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz follows the same formula but with a Mexican twist.

Actress Ana Serradilla plays Julia, a renowned food critic afraid of settling down. Despite her aversion to commitment, Julia and her best friend Manuel (Carlos Ferro) had promised to marry each other if they were both single by age 35. To her surprise, the time has come and Manuel is marrying another woman. With only four days before the ceremony and certain that she is the only woman for him, Julia plans to stop the wedding at any cost.



Eight Out of Ten poster

Eight Out of Ten (2019)

Directed by Sergio Umansky Brener

November 21

Sergio Umansky’s fierce and psychologically complex drama explores the aftermath of a tragedy that evidences the rampant impunity and insecurity problem across Mexico.

Chameleonic actor Noé Hernández shines as Aurelio, a man whose son was violently murdered in broad daylight. Searching for whoever was responsible, Aurelio meets Citlali (Daniela Schmidt) in a Mexico City hotel. She has also been unjustly separated from her child and wants to fight back. This shared struggle for justice forges a dangerous alliance between them as their desire for answers transforms into thirst for revenge.




The Frida Cinema Blog Post #10

The Films of Martin Scorsese


Martin Scorsese


With the limited theatrical release of the highly-anticipated new Netflix film The Irishman coming up, we proudly pay homage to one of the most accomplished directors in all of cinematic history, Martin Scorsese.

As a child, Scorsese suffered from debilitating asthma, with the only activity accessible to him being watching movies at the local movie theatre. In that darkened theatre, the four-year-old Scorsese became mesmerized by the images, sounds, and words emanating from the giant silver screen. This became his “unintentional film school”, feeding his desire to learn everything about movies.

Scorsese owes his raw yet sophisticated film style to a multitude of film and personal influences, among them the Golden Age of Hollywood, French New Wave, his Italian heritage, Catholicism, and close attention to detail. He creates flawed but relatable characters trying to survive in a world that can be as loving as it is cruel. A typical Scorsese film is an homage to classic film but featuring twists like realistic stories and experimental techniques.

As such, it’s an honor and privilege to screen not only The Irishman but four other cinematic masterpieces from Scorsese as part of our month-long celebration of his work



The Irishman (2019)

November 27-30 & December 2-5

The Irishman

The wait is finally over for Scorsese’s long-awaited gangster epic, The Irishman!

This biographical crime thriller follows Frank Sheeran as he recalls his past years working for the Bufalino crime family. Now older, the WWII veteran once again reflects on his biggest hits and considers his involvement with one of the country’s most enduring mysteries, the disappearance of his good friend Jimmy Hoffa in 1975.

Garnering all kinds of awards hype and starring Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel, The Irishman finds America’s greatest living filmmaker once again working at the top of his game!

Written by Trevor Dillon.



Raging Bull (1980)

November 4-5 & 9-10

Raging Bull

Brace yourself for Raging Bull, a hard-hitting biopic about champion boxer Jake LaMotta.

Before his brief reign in the 1940s boxing world, LaMotta had two lessons he learned early in life: to steal and to fight. Channeling this tough upbringing into the ring, LaMotta directs his deep-seated anxieties and emotional fears into a visceral aggression towards his opponents. His violence and rage lead him to the top as a prizefighter but that same temper ultimately destroys his life outside the ring.

Starring Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, and Joe Pesci, Raging Bull is an unflinching depiction of LaMotta’s rise and fall.

Written by Adrienne Reese.



Taxi Driver (1976)

November 11-12 & 16-17

Taxi Driver

Catch the next cab to Taxi Driver, Scorsese’s exploration of alienation and toxic masculinity.

Based on a screenplay by Paul Schrader (Raging Bull), the movie follows Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), a Vietnam veteran and loner who takes an overnight cab driving job to deal with his insomnia. Over a short period of time he comes in contact with a local politician running for office, a beautiful woman working for his campaign, and a young girl who is forced into prostitution. These interactions and Travis’ growing paranoia build toward a startling conclusion of urban violence.

Featuring a sonorous score by Bernard Hermann and strong supporting performances by Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Albert Brooks, Taxi Driver remains a classic of contemporary cinema with themes that remain urgently relevant.

Written by Sean Woodard.



The King of Comedy (1982)

November 18-19 & 20

The King of Comedy poster

Robert De Niro gives a humorously surprising turn in The King of Comedy, the original cringe comedy!

Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) dreams of being a stand-up comedian and thinks his big break has come at last when he meets with the famous talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). When numerous attempts to get on Langford’s show fail however, Rupert becomes increasingly desperate and resorts to extreme tactics to get the validation he thinks he deserves.

Bolstered by a talented supporting cast, De Niro creates an unnerving portrait of the effects of loneliness on a deranged mind.

Written by Sammy Trujillo.



Goodfellas (1990)

November 25-26 & 28-29


Grab some wise guys and catch Goodfellas, playing in celebration of the film’s 29th anniversary!

Based on the unbelievable true story of the rise and fall of Henry Hill, the film documents the notorious mobster’s life from childhood onward. Despite being half-Irish, Henry ingratiates himself to the local Italian mafia and rises through its ranks. After leading the largest cash robbery on American soil, he becomes reckless and his friends turn against him. With both the FBI and his fellow mobsters after him, the question facing Henry is should he snitch or face the business end of the barrel?

Listed by the American Film Institute as #2 on its Top 10 Gangster FilmsGoodfellas is a sharp crime drama with snappy dialogue and memorable performances.

Written by Justina Bonilla.

The Frida Cinema Blog Post #9

10 Mexican Horror Films Every Horror Fan Should See


A brand-new, 4k restoration of Alejandro Jodorowsky’sSanta Sangrestarts Friday, November 29th at The Frida Cinema.

Mexican horror is one of the most unique and distinctive voices in international horror cinema. Initially inspired by early American horror and German Expressionist films, Mexican horror filmmakers combined these foreign influences with their Catholic traditions and indigenous folklore, resulting in a veritable treasure trove of gothic and fantasy stories.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre (1989)
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre (1989)

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

Tigers Are Not Afraid

This international cross-over film from Issa Lopez has a fantasy feel yet brutal visuals, revealing that it is children who pay the highest price in the Latin American drug wars. Its success has both revitalized interest in Mexican horror as well as further established women as directors.



Cronos (1993)

Cronos poster

Long before he became an Oscar-winning director, Guillermo Del Toro made his debut with Cronos, establishing himself as a horror writer and filmmaker. Reinventing the traditional vampire tale, Cronos examines the undying love and bond between a grandfather and granddaughter in spite of the horrors of vampire life.


Poison for Fairies (1993)

Poison for Fairies poster

The last film directed by Carlos Enrique Taboada, an influential director, writer, and cult-figure in Mexican horror films.  Though initially resembling a lighthearted made-for-television movie about the friendship between two little girls, it quickly turns into a dark thriller of witchcraft and terror.




Alucarda, Daughter of Darkness (1997)

Image result for Alucarda, Daughter of Darkness

The most controversial film from influential director Juan Lopez Moctezuma, Alucarda, Daughter of Darkness caused quite a stir upon its release due to its explicit scenes of murder, sex, and demonic possession within the walls of a convent.  Because of the controversy, Alucarda is often compared to Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971).




The Mansion of Madness (1973)

The Mansion of Madness poster

After working as a producer for avant-garde director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Fando and Lis and El Topo, Moctezuma made his film directorial debut with The Manson of Madness.  He intertwined his love of classic horror with influences from Jodorowsky’s take-no-prisoners style, creating a surrealist nightmare of mental patients running the asylum.


The Curse of the Crying Woman (1963)

Image result for The Curse of the Crying Woman

Directed and produced by Golden Age of Mexican cinema veterans Rafael Baledon and Abel Salazar, The Curse of the Crying Woman brings the traditional folk tale of Llorona back from the dead. Considered by film historians to be a classic of Mexican horror, the movie combines folk traditions with stylized black and white terror.


Santo vs. The Vampire Women (1962)

Santo poster

With the massive popularity of wrestling in Mexico, many wrestlers transitioned into movies and television, with the most notable being the iconic El Santo. He starred in over 50 films that pit him against a variety of foes, including gangsters, demons, martians, and most notably vampires in Alfonso Corona Blake’s Santo vs. the Vampire Women.




The Witch’s Mirror (1962)

The Witch's Mirror poster

An eccentric talent, Chano Urueta combined multiple horror subgenres and experimental special effects to create art-house chiller The Witch’s Mirror. Paying visual homage to the cinematic styles of Eyes Without A Face and Frankenstein, the movie also draws considerable influence from RKO producer Val Lewton’s signature style of horror.



Macario (1960)

Macario poster

Though considered a fantasy film, Roberto Galvadon’s Macario has a definite horror feel with its story of making a deal with and then cheating death. Visually stunning, this movie has the honor of being Mexico’s first nominee for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards.


El Vampiro (1957)

The Vampire poster

Inspired by the success of the Universal Monster films, Abel Salazar collaborated with Fernando Mendez to set the traditional Dracula story in Mexico with The Vampire. The success of this surprise horror masterpiece started a vampire craze in Mexican monster cinema. It also revived cinematic depictions of Dracula one year before Hammer Studios released their first vampire film, Horror of Dracula (1958).




The Frida Cinema Film Event Post #28



Grab some wise guys and catch Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, playing in celebration of the film’s 29th anniversary!

Based on the unbelievable true story of the rise and fall of Henry Hill, the film documents the notorious mobster’s life from childhood onward. Despite being half-Irish, Henry ingratiates himself to the local Italian mafia and rises through its ranks. After leading the largest cash robbery on American soil, he becomes reckless and his friends turn against him. With both the FBI and his fellow mobsters after him, the question facing Henry is should he snitch or face the business end of the barrel?

Listed by the American Film Institute as #2 on its Top 10 Gangster FilmsGoodfellas is a sharp crime drama with snappy dialogue and memorable performances.

“Complex, Volatile, ironic and disquieting Scorsese’s Goodfellas in a masterly achievement in intense observation.” – Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

“The best movie about who gangsters are, and how they came to exert such a magnetic pull on American culture.” – Tim Brayton,

“Martin Scorsese’s soberest, most vivaciously thrilling vision of how hollow (and short) the fast lives of mafiios really are.” – Jake Cole, Slant Magazine

The Frida Cinema Film Event Post #27

3 From Hell

3 from Hell

From the twisted mind of heavy metal’s Rob Zombie comes 3 From Hell, the third installment of the Firefly family saga!

By some unholy miracle, Baby (Sherri Moon Zombie), Otitis (Bill Moseley), and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) survive the Bonnie and Clyde-esque shootout with police from the end of The Devil’s Rejects. They are subsequently imprisoned but manage to use their deranged wit to escape to a desolate Mexican village. While the family enjoys the vices of Mexico, the son of one of their victims tracks them down to avenge his father.

Featuring the last performance by Sid Haig to be released in his lifetime, 3 from Hell is a gloriously bloody note for the Firefly trilogy to end on.

The Frida Cinema Blog Post #8

Hispanic Heritage in Film: Latin America’s Trailblazing Directors


The Frida Cinema celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring the Hispanic and Latino heritage in film. In this series of blogs, we’ll be highlighting Hispanic/Latino talent both in front of and behind the camera, and the impacts of these individuals on—and legacy in—film.

Latin America's Trailblazers
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain (1973); Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017); Jorge R. Gutiérrez’s The Book of Life (2014)

Part 5: Latin America’s Trailblazing Directors

Concluding our Hispanic Heritage Blog series, we look at three directors from Latin America, each in a special class of their own. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jorge Gutiérrez, and Issa López are trailblazing directors whose respective styles are immediately recognizable. Chilean avant-garde director Alejandro Jodorowsky uses a “take no prisoners” approach to his violent yet mystical imagery, challenging viewers to look beyond the traditional aspects of film for meaning. Mexican animator and director Jorge R. Gutiérrez created a revolutionary style of animation combining Mexican folk and pop culture with American influences. Mexicana director and writer Issa López jumped from the security of writing and directing romantic comedies to directing and writing the critically acclaimed gritty genre-bending horror film Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017). Through their films they challenge the status quo, creating visuals that surprise and enchant us.


Alejandro Jodorowsky

Reggie Peralta: A Hispanic with a Slavic surname, Alejandro Jodorowsky makes for an interesting entry in this list even without taking his avant-garde cinematic offerings into account. The son of Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants, the Chilean director’s unique cultural background is an excellent example of the complexity and fluidity of Hispanic identity. It’s not a stretch to say that this diverse heritage reflects the colorful, multifaceted nature of his work. Take, for instance, the fact that he originally started out not as a filmmaker but as a theatre performer, working for a circus as a clown after dropping out of college. Indeed, Jodorowsky wouldn’t make his debut as a filmmaker until he moved to France, alternating between there and Mexico for much of his career (not unlike Luis Buñuel, another Hispanic director with surrealistic sensibilities).


Clip from The Holy Mountain (1973)

It was in Mexico that Jodorowsky produced El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), a pair of phantasmagorical romps replete with dreamlike narratives and occultist symbolism that are considered by many to be the first true midnight movies. The films’ fans have included such noted creatives as David Lynch, Dennis Hopper, and even two Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison (with their manager Allen Klein even acting as a producer on Mountain). While his later movies didn’t achieve the iconic counterculture status that these two films did, they still speak to the director’s diversified talent and mind-bending tastes. Santa Sangre (1989) is his sexually-charged take on the slasher genre while The Dance of Reality (2013) and Endless Poetry (2016) are both attempts to tell the story of his life through the kaleidoscopic view of his filmmaker’s lens.

To go into the rest of Jodorowsky’s prolific œuvre—including his other films, comics, and something he calls “psychomagic”—would require a much longer blog post, but the five movies mentioned above earn him a place on this list many times over.


Issa López

Children who survive wars on their own are, sadly, a universal thing. So, a version of this could have happened at many points in history and can absolutely happen in many places in the world now. Actually, there has been some discussion about the possibility of a remake.” – Issa López

Darren Cassidy: Film scholar/writer/director Issa López began her career writing and directing episodes of Plaza Sésamo (the Mexican Sesame Street) and writing for a few of those sMexy telenovelas. Following her tenure teaching screenwriting at the Writing Studies Center of Televisa, she wrote the screenplay for Ladies’ Night (2003), the first Mexican film to be produced by a major Hollywood studio (Disney). Ladies’ Night was one of the highest-grossing films of the year in Mexico and it went on to win the Best Screenplay Award at the Cyprus International Film Festival.

In 2006, López wrote and directed her first feature Efectos secundarios (Side Effects), which satirizes high-school reunions in a rather extreme way. It was the first Mexican film produced by Warner Bros. and is currently the 15th highest-grossing film in Mexican history. López’s directorial debut was also nominated for 12 Diosa de Plata (Mexican Film Press) Awards including Best Director and Best Picture.

Clip from Vuelven (2017)

López also wrote and directed Casi Divas (2008), another highly-successful Mexican-American co-production. She also saw her screenwriting finding success and accolades throughout the 2010s.

2017 brought López’s most well known film Vuelven (Tigers Are Not Afraid) before a wide international audience. Her film has won universal acclaim since its release; she took the Best Horror Picture Director award at Fantastic Fest—the first woman and the first Mexican to do so—and her film was nominated for 9 Ariels (Mexican Oscars). Vuelven won the very vocal praise of such luminaries as Stephen King; Neil Gaiman; and Guillermo Del Toro, who announced at the 2018 Guadalajara Film Festival that he will produce the next Issa López film.


Jorge R. Gutiérrez

Isa Bulnes-Shaw: Though not a household name to the average movie buff, the work of Jorge R. Gutiérrez is instantly recognizable to any fan of animation. Though only a director of one feature film so far, his experience spans the 2000s to the present, across multiple forms of media as a painter, writer, character designer, producer, illustrator, and all-around bombastic creative force.

Born in Mexico City and relocated to Tijuana at nine, Gutiérrez’s love and passion for Mexican and Chicanx culture radiates from everything he does; it’s not influence, it’s simply him. From unique, intricate character designs to the worlds based on real ancient and modern places in Mexico, his work is a “cultural collision” that reflects his upbringing as a child who crossed the Tijuana border every day to attend school in the U.S., who early on had a love affair with the imagery of bootleg mashups, Luchadores, and much more. Even throughout his career as a student of Experimental Animation at the California Institute of the Arts, Gutiérrez’s films were stories rooted in Latino imagery and life, as was the case with his Student Emmy Award winning film, Carmelo.

Trailer for The Book of Life (2014)

Those who grew up in the 2000s know him as the co-creator and co-producer of the multi-Annie and Emmy Award winning Nickelodeon cartoon series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera (with wife and muse Sandra Equiha), one of the very rare instances of Mexican characters in children’s animation at the time. His directorial debut and lifelong dream project, however, wouldn’t be realized until 2014 with the release of the Golden Globe Best Animated Feature Nominee, The Book of Life (2014). He had pitched for fourteen years and was rejected by every major animation studio under the declaration that a Mexican story was not universal, had no commercial market value, or that audiences simply did not want to see something so explicitly Mexican/Latinx; it would later be produced by Guillermo Del Toro and feature the talents of Diego Luna and Zoe Saldaña. Development took another half decade due to its intricate and unique designs, almost identical to the concept art, with the figures crafted to look like handmade wooden figures existing in folk-art during post-revolution 1910 Mexico, and with a third of the budget of the most popular animated films from the biggest studios.

Jorge R. Gutiérrez is an animation darling for a reason. Despite decades of resistance, he’s made a career not only by telling his own personal, distinctly Mexican stories at a time when it was very rare, but ultimately elevating the best of both the U.S. and his homeland. His work speaks to a new generation of Latinx folks with mixed ethnic backgrounds and influences, who can be assured that who they are is not only normal, but to be celebrated.