Mexico’s recent dominance of the Best Director category looks set to continue.
Recent Best Director winner and all-around swell guy Guillermo del Toro has been hugely influential to young filmmakers across the globe, but nowhere more so than in his home nation of Mexico. Now, The Shape of Water director is offering more than just inspiration. Del Toro is launching a scholarship for fledgling Mexican filmmakers. As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar winner announced his new endeavor at his hometown festival, the Guadalajara International Film Festival.
Del Toro is beloved everywhere he goes, but likely nowhere more so than in Guadalajara, at the festival he co-founded 33 years ago. Riding the high of The Shape of Water‘s four Oscar wins, including Best Picture, the popular filmmaker took a break from hosting a series of free master classes to unveil the Jenkins-Del Toro International Film Scholarship, a $60,000 award designed to send an up-and-coming Mexican filmmaker to a prestigious international film school. The scholarship will be awarded annually at the Guadalajara Festival by a jury led by del Toro.
He and his compatriots Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) have dominated the Best Picture category in recent years, winning four of the past five Oscars between them. While their greatest successes have been in Hollywood, “The Three Amigos,” as they’re nicknamed together, haven’t lost sight of their home nation, and it’s this kind of endeavor that will keep Mexico ahead when it comes to nurturing filmmaking talent.
Del Toro has an impressive producing resume, from Spanish language hits (J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage) to massive international franchises (the Kung Fu Panda sequels), so the future winners will be learning from one of the best (and busiest) filmmakers working today.
It’s interesting to note, however, that the future winners of the Jenkins-Del Toro award will likely follow a very different career path to their forebears. Del Toro, Cuarón, and Iñárritu all studied in Mexico and got their starts in the Mexican radio and television industries before working their way up to the big screen and then across the border. The recipients of this scholarship, however, will likely go straight into the industry in the US, the UK, or elsewhere.
One of the defining features of the Hollywood success of the “The Three Amigos” is their position as immigrant filmmakers. They have offered enlightening and moving portrayals of outsiders (The Shape of Water), as well as providing alternative takes on distinctly American myths (the Wild West in The Revenant and space exploration in Gravity). One wonders whether such an early move towards the bright lights of Hollywood will lessen the effect of that unique and potent perspective. Nonetheless, initiatives like this can only be regarded as a good thing. It’s been incredible to watch people of color dominating one of the Academy’s most prestigious categories, but this new source of financial aid could prove vital for the nurturing of the next del Toro. The future of Mexican cinema looks brighter than ever.