Roberto Gavaldón retrospective

San Sebastian to celebrate Mexican director at 67th edition

by Amber Wilkinson

Macario
Macario
San Sebastian Film Festival has announced it will host a retrospective of about 25 films dedicated to Mexican director Roberto Gavaldón at its 67th edition.

The Jiménez-born filmmaker worked his way up through the ranks of actor, extra and assistant director and scriptwriter before co-directing, making his debut as a solo director in 1945 with The Shack (La Barraca). He would go on to film Macario in 1960, which was selected for Cannes and became the first Mexican film to receive a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Its success paved the way for him becoming one of Mexico's most important directors for the next two decades.

Roberto Gavaldón
Roberto Gavaldón Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival
Although mainly working in melodrama, he also tackled genres including crime, musical and fantasy. His other films include Macario, La otra – a criminal drama about twin sisters that would go on to be remade by Hollywood as Dead Ringer, in 1964, starring Bette Davis – The Kneeling Goddess (La diosa arrodillada), In The Palm Of Your Hand (En la palma de tu mano) and The Night Falls (La noche avanza). In 1955, he was chosen by the Disney studios to direct one of its productions filmed in Mexico, The Littlest Outlaw.

In the early sixties he turned his attention to other topics, with a focus social and political issues, a turn that saw his film Rosa blanca, about the expropriation of petrol in Mexico, banned in the country, not receiving a release until 1972. He continued to work until l 1979 and his last film, Cuando tejen las arañas, is a drama about a sexually repressed young woman. He died in Mexico City in 1986.

Several of the titles for the retrospective - organised in collaboration with Filmotca Vasca and the San Telmo Museum - have been restored by the Cineteca Nacional de México and by Filmoteca UNAM.

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