Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 15:39 UK

Mexican wave hits film festival

By Natalie Higgins
BBC Scotland news

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna star as footballing brothers in Carlos Cuaron's Rudo & Cursi
Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna star as footballing brothers in Carlos Cuaron's Rudo & Cursi

Family, both real and imagined, is at the heart of Carlos Cuaron's Rudo & Cursi, which received its UK premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

The film brings together the best-known names in Mexican cinema, reuniting Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna eight years after their performances in coming-of-age road movie Y Tu Mama Tambien brought them to the attention of international film audiences.

The story focuses on two half-brothers, Tato and Beto, who leave their jobs on a banana plantation in rural Mexico to chase wealth and success as professional footballers, but quickly discover the pitfalls of fame.

Rudo & Cursi is the first feature film directed by Bafta and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Carlos Cuaron.

He said: "It is a film about brotherhood made by brothers".

Carlos's own brother is Alfonso Cuaron, whose directorial credits include Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The pair are close friends with fellow Mexicans Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pan's Labyrinth, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who made Amores Perros and Babel.

All three served as producers on Rudo & Cursi, the first project backed by their production company Cha Cha Cha.

Along with Garcia Bernal and Luna, themselves best friends since childhood, they form what Alfonso Cuaron calls an "extended family".

Together, they represent the vanguard of contemporary Mexican cinema.

Garcia Bernal and Luna have been friends since childhood
Garcia Bernal and Luna have been friends since childhood

Carlos Cuaron is keen to stress that Rudo & Cursi is not a film about football itself, but "a sibling rivalry story in the context of football in Mexico".

The brothers dream of building a home for their mother, who has brought up seven children without much help from her long list of partners.

"The two brothers are fighting for the mother's affection, and it's all about that," he said.

The film is full of humour, but does not flinch from examining social problems linked to class and corruption.

In Mexico City, Beto is sucked into gambling, while Tato is distracted from football by his misguided attempts at a music career.

Cuaron views the challenge of explaining contemporary Mexican society to international audiences "not as a responsibility but as a desire".

There are few roads out of poverty for young Mexicans, he said, and those that exist are risky.

He said: "In Mexico right now you have three ways of achieving your dream: becoming a footballer - that is very unlikely; becoming a singer - that is also highly unlikely; or working for the drug lords."

To that list his brother Alfonso added "the dream that gets fulfilled more often - the American dream, all the immigration that is forced because of [a need for] survival."

The Cuaron brothers are pleased by the growing interest in Mexican film in recent years, but are reluctant to define it as a fully-fledged, organised industry.

"The reality that is amazing is that there is, pretty much year after year, a new filmmaker coming out of Mexico that is making a difference," Alfonso Cuaron said.

"And because of that there's a perception now in film festivals year after year, that Mexican films are an important presence. But that doesn't represent necessarily an industry."

And a strong infrastructure for film-making does not necessarily guarantee good films are produced, he said.

"So I'm more interested about the film-makers doing interesting cinema, than industries."

Alfonso Cuaron, Gael Garcia Bernal, Carlos Cuaron and Diago Luna
Alfonso Cuaron, Gael Garcia Bernal, Carlos Cuaron and Diego Luna

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna described dramatic changes in the Mexican film scene since their last on-screen collaboration in 2001, and said they were proud of their involvement.

Since Y Tu Mama Tambien, Garcia Bernal has had success playing a young Che Guevara in Walter Salles' The Motorcycle Diaries, a pre-operative transsexual in Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education and a lovestruck dreamer in Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep.

In addition to numerous Spanish-language roles, Luna recently appeared in Gus Van Sant's Milk and, in 2007, directed Chavez, a documentary about Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez.

The title Rudo & Cursi is a reference to the on-screen brothers' nicknames. Beto (Luna) is uncompromising goalkeeper Rudo ("Tough"), while Tato (Garcia Bernal) is flamboyant striker Cursi ("Corny").

Carlos Cuaron admits his aim was to cast them against type. "He kind of changed the dynamic of our relationship, letting me be the wise guy," Luna said.

"If you think about Y Tu Mama Tambien, [Gael] is the character who leads."

Garcia Bernal and Luna believe Mexican people should be able to see more Mexican films in their cinemas.

To this end, they founded Canana Films with partner Pablo Cruz and have recently served as executive producers on two films - Voy a Explotar and Sin Nombre - which have been shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Alfonso Cuaron said: "To work with Diego and Gael is to save about 25 years of rehearsals because they know each other for 25 years and they can communicate almost by telepathy."

Rudo & Cursi is out in the UK on 26 June.

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