Out-foxing Mexican Filmmakers


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."