The Mexico of Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa

February 10 to March 10 - 8PM

As part of the celebrations of the Bicentennial of the beginning of Mexico’s fight for independence and the Centennial of the Revolution, Cine Las Americas, the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin, Austin Parks and Recreation and the Mexican American Cultural Center Present the series “The Mexico of Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa” which includes five of the most important films of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, and offers a sample of the important contributions of these two icons to Mexico’s film industry.

All screenings at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC, 600 River Street, Austin, Texas 78701)
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All films in Spanish with English Subtitles – FREE

Para leer éste artículo en español, click aquí



Wednesday, February 10, 8PMFlor Silverstre

Mexico, 1943, 99 min
Cast: Dolores del Río, Pedro Armendáriz, Emilio Fernández, Mimí Derba, Emilia Guiú

The son of a rich landowner secretly marries a beautiful girl of humble
origins. His father, greatly displeased, disowns him. In spite of this, the couple lives happily but after the triumph of the revolution he finds himself in a desperate situation when a pair of ruffians disguised as revolutionaries kidnap his wife and son. It is then that his love and courage are tested.

Flor SilverstreWednesday, February 17, 8PM

Mexico, 1944, 100 min
Cast: Dolores del Río, Pedro Armendáriz, Roberto Cañedo, Stella Inda

In 19th century Guanajuato, the beauty and kindness of the young heiress Amalia woos Ricardo, the humble foreman. Unable to consummate their love, Ricardo leaves Guanajuato and returns some time later transformed into a rich mine owner. Upon his return, a tragic reencounter with Amalia awaits him.

Flor SilverstreWednesday, February 24, 8PM

Mexico, 1944, 97 min
Cast: Dolores del Río, Pedro Armendáriz, Víctor Junco, Lupe Inclán, Armando Soto la Marina “Chicote”

Abandoned by Julio, Margarita and her baby find refuge in a Mexico City brothel. There she meets Juan Gómez, a revolutionary general who is fascinated by her beauty and offers her a better life. But Margarita's misfortunes don't end, because Juan is really an impostor, a member of the fearsome "gray automobile" gang that assaults the city with its robberies.

Flor SilverstreWednesday, March 3, 8PM

Mexico/USA, 1945, 85 min
Cast: Pedro Armendáriz, María Elena Marqués, Guillermo Calles, Columba Domínguez

In a humble fisherman's village, Quino and his wife Juana are in deep anguish after a scorpion bites their young son. The local doctor, a greedy foreigner, refuses to help the boy so the local healer saves him instead. After Quino finds a very large pearl at the bottom of the sea, the doctor and his son, overcome by greed, are willing to do anything to seize the precious jewel.

Flor SilverstreWednesday, March 10, 8PM

Mexico, 1948, 106 min
Cast: Columba Domínguez, Roberto Cañedo, Guillermo Cramer, Luis Aceves Castañeda, Ismael Pérez

Aurelio returns to his hometown after serving a sentence for having avenged the rape of his beloved Paloma by Julio. Upon his return he finds his mother dead, and is told that Paloma and her newborn son are living in exile. Aurelio tries to marry Paloma and leave the past behind but the evil Julio and his brother Ramiro are not willing to leave them alone.


The Mexico of Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa

As part of the celebrations of the Bicentennial of the beginning of Mexico’s fight for independence and the Centennial of the Revolution, Cine Las Americas presents the series “The Mexico of Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa” which includes five of the most important films of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, and offers a sample of the important contributions of these two icons to Mexico’s film industry.

After a problematic childhood in Mexico during the Revolution of 1910, Emilio Fernández left the country and headed to Chicago in 1923. He ultimately settled in Los Angeles in 1925, where he began his career in film as a double and an extra in Hollywood. During his stay in the mecca of filmmaking, Fernández met Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, who played an important role in Fernández’s development as an actor and director.

Emilio FernandezFernández was impressed, not only by Eisenstein’s masterpiece Battleship Potemkin (1925), but also by the images captured by the Russian director during his trip to Mexico in 1930 – images that would eventually be used for his unfinished film ¡Que Viva México! The Mexico Eisenstein visited was a country where president Lázaro Cárdenas extolled the Revolution’s ideals, where the muralists and artists around the country were searching for the real meaning of Mexicanidad, and where the artists’ nationalism was reflected throughout the cultural activities around the country. This revolutionary spirit that had overcome the nation produced new aesthetics that reflected in Einsenstein’s images, which helped forge a uniquely Mexican cinematography.

Eisenstein’s images, capturing elements such as rural landscapes and cultural traditions of the indigenous populations while offering a critical analysis of Mexican society, compelled Fernández to recognize and celebrate Eisenstein’s effort to represent aspects of Mexican culture that were very often ignored by the film industry during those years. This particular experience marked the beginning of Fernández’s determination to include popular traditions and distinctly Mexican landscapes in his work, in order to capture a “true” vision of the Mexican experience for audiences around the world.

Upon his return to Mexico, Fernández began his career in the local film industry as an actor in popular films such as Fernando de Fuentes’ Allá en el Rancho Grande (1936), and also as a writer and assistant director in numerous other projects. La Isla de la Pasión (Clipperton) in 1941 marked his debut as director, actor and writer and also established him as a main player in the industry.

Emilio FernandezFernández’s best work, however, grew out of a creative and synergic relationship he established with the Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. Figueroa shared with Fernández a vision to forge a distinct Mexican cinema, one that would artistically convey the true essence of the country. As a student of the renowned American cinematographer Gregg Toland – the mastermind behind the cinematography of Citizen Kane – in Fernández’s films, Figueroa illuminates the beauty of Mexican landscapes using chiaroscuro (stark contrast between illuminated space and dark shadows), and masterfully stylizes the work of the actors.

Emilio FernandezTheir artistic partnership began in 1943 with Flor Silvestre, a film that established both filmmakers, along with Mauricio Magdaleno as screenwriter, as key figures in the most important decade of Mexican film. The 1944 film Las Abandonadas, a romantic melodrama set in 1914 at the height of the Mexican Revolution, is more famously recognized for the memorable and highly expensive costumes Fernández ordered to be designed for the actress Dolores del Río, proof of the admiration the director always felt toward her. That same year Bugambilia captured audiences in the romantic alleys of Guanajuato, although the professional relationship between Fernández and Del Río eroded and she announced she would never again work with the director. In 1945 Fernández adapted John Steinbeck’s novel The Pearl with the help of Steinbeck himself, and it is for this film [The Pearl (La Perla)] that Figueroa was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Cinematography. The series ends with Pueblerina (1948), the film that is considered his best work, Emilio Fernandezeven though it was made with the smallest budget of all of Fernández’s films due to an economic crisis affecting the Mexican film industry at the time.

The films also feature stellar performances by Mexican actors Dolores del Río, Columba Domínguez and Pedro Armendáriz who cemented themselves as icons of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. Together, cast and crew brought to the big screen unforgettable love stories, and the films celebrate both the beauty and mystery of the Mexican woman as well as the sublime Mexican landscapes, while conveying the complicated process of defining a true Mexican identity.



Mexico 2010
Presented in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin.