Out-foxing Mexican Filmmakers

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Mexican President Vicente Fox has announced plans to abolish state subsidies for his country's resurgent cinema, sell off the last remaining government-owned movie studio, and close down a public film school. All but one person quoted in this L.A. Times article is positively boiling with indignant outrage. Example:

"It's incredible that right now, when Mexican cinema has caught worldwide attention, instead of saying 'let's support this industry more,' they would do the exact opposite," said Alejandro Gonz?lez I??rritu, director of the upcoming "21 Grams" and 2001's "Amores Perros," which is one of several recent Mexican films nominated for an Oscar. "This is a move typical of a president who wears cowboy boots."

For a different take on the relationship between film subsidies and quality output, try Tyler Cowen's 1998 Reason essay about French cinema, which argues that state intervention depresses French filmgoing, encourages un-exportable productions, and ignores the inconvenient fact that during the country's 1930s Golden Age of cinema, directors "received no government subsidies, and "the restrictions on imported films were trifling and did not keep American movies off French screens."

NEXT: Tequila

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  1. Fox is a shrewd investor, as he executes the “Sell High” half of an old adage.

  2. Now if only Jean Chretien followed his lead…

  3. How about a middle position: it’s pretty clear that the subsidies did get a Mexican film industry going, and that it’s producing a decent product. But if it’s no longer in its infancy, then maybe it’s time to leave the nursery.

    There are a lot of other needs in Mexico.

  4. “WAAHHH!!! WAA-WAAAHHH!!!! I’m a Mexican movie director, and I’m mad that other Mexicans aren’t being forced to invest in my movies!!!! I don’t care if a lot of them are poor and starving, it’s not fair!!!! WAAA-AAAHHH!!! WAAAHHHHH!!!”

  5. joe:

    Social security isn’t in its infancy anymore …

    🙂

  6. It’s a shame that Sr. Gonz?lez I??rritu doesn’t have more confidence in his craft…Amores Perros was a great film.

    This just goes to show that government art subsidies make even the artists capable of being successful without them utterly dependent.

  7. was y tu mama tambien subsidized as well? Great movie — I wonder what the Zapatistas think — or now dead narconews linking this latest move by Fox as linked to drug corruption and Venezuela

  8. I think they should keep the film school open, but get rid of the subsidies.

  9. Yeah, thank god for film schools, it’s like a friggin new renaissance since they opened up all of those around the country.

  10. Does this mean I have to pay market price to see “The Wrestling Women Meet the Aztec Mummy”?

  11. Question: Is there anything that the Canadian taxpary DOESN’T subsidize in their country???

  12. Question: Is there anything that the Canadian taxpayer DOESN’T subsidize in their country???

  13. Same sort of nonsense exists north of the border. The Canadian government subsidizes all kinds of productions up here, both film and T.V. And the CRTC forces an insanely high ratio of CanCon on our airwaves. Okay, back in the seventies it might have been justified but, for Christ’s sake, you could make a halfway decent case that we’re starting to dominate some sectors of the music scene. Enough already.

    But under no circumstances can you send back Celine Dion. Sorry, no way.

  14. “Social security isn’t in its infancy anymore …”

    Well, neither is the Department of Defense, but you don’t want to privatize that, do you?

    Wait, don’t answer that.

  15. Yeah, broadband internet access.

  16. Touche, Douglas. Touche.

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    IP: 195.94.1.122
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    DATE: 05/21/2004 03:39:33
    Make sure you still have something worth wishing for.

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