Spain’s Cannes award winner

Antonio Méndez Esparza’s Mexico-shot ‘Aquí y allá’ takes Critics’ Week Grand Prize

Shot in Mexico, 'Aquí y allá' is about an immigrant’s return home.
Shot in Mexico, 'Aquí y allá' is about an immigrant’s return home.

Spain may only have taken a modest crop of films to this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but that didn’t mean it was without awards success.

Aquí y allá, the debut of 36-year-old Madrileño Antonio Méndez Esparza, became only the second Spanish film to be awarded the International Critics’ Week Grand Prize, a trophy previously won by the likes of Iciar Bollain for Flores de otro mundo, Guillermo del Toro for Cronos and Alejandro González Iñárritu for Amores perros.

The movie concerns a Mexican immigrant’s return to his hometown after several years in the US. His daughters hardly recognize him and his plans to form a music group are destroyed by unemployment.

Firmly based in reality, over two hours the movie transports you into family life in a small town in the Sierra de Guerrero. “I met the star in New York, where I was studying at Columbia University,” says Méndez. “We became good friends and we went back with him to his house, and his wife [in the film] is his real wife, and his house is the real house.”

His on-screen daughters, though, aren’t his real daughters, as while Aquí y allá touches on documentary, it also departs from it in different aspects, such as a subplot involving youngsters also planning to emigrate.

“It’s funny because for them it’s not strange to be filmed. There they record the festivities and then share them on DVD. They were constantly asking me if I was going to give them the film the next day,” Méndez says.

At its heart, Aquí y allá is a film about hope and the conflict between love for your family and the need to move forward. “The film moved forward because the community supported us completely.”

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