They say that reality is stranger than fiction, even if that fiction is a political satire by Luis Estrada. A few hours after the premiere of ¡Que Viva México!, the acclaimed Mexican director’s latest film, the script has taken an unexpected turn and is no longer available in cinemas across the country, at least for the moment.
A day after the premiere, Estrada confirmed that he had bought the screening rights for his film from Netflix – the sponsor of the project – and is looking for new distributors for the film. According to the original deal, the entertainment giant was to start distributing the film in national and international theaters from November 3rd, and then offer it in its catalog in more than 190 countries from November 16th. But the deal blew up. “I bought these rights from them in order to have them exclusively and not lose control of the film,” Luis Estrada tells EL PAÍS, assuring that despite the last-minute changes, the film can be seen on the platform, “As soon as it’s released the cinemas I get from Mexico and the world,” he points out.
The news was confirmed by Netflix, which is ensuring that after the commercial premiere of ¡Que Viva México! The film can also be seen on the platform along with the director’s other titles, although when has not yet been determined. “We are delighted to be working with master Luis Estrada on his new film, but in recent weeks the director and producer have expressed interest in implementing a different distribution strategy than the one agreed,” a company spokesman told the newspaper. “We want to live up to that vision, which is why we’ve agreed to return the rights to the film to him,” he adds.
The differences of opinion between the director and the company a few hours after the premiere are striking. Estrada emphasizes that during the recording there was always an “extraordinary relationship with Netflix” in which their criteria were met at all times. In addition to directing, he is also the screenwriter and producer of the film. After filming, he explains that one of his demands was always: ¡Que Viva México! in commercial theaters, which he says wasn’t part of Netflix’s plans. “Originally there was an agreement that the film would be shown in a few selected cinemas as they could not be shown in commercial cinemas due to firm policy,” he explains.
However, the giant’s recent premiere of another long-awaited Mexican film in theaters across the country seems to have been the catalyst for putting Estrada on the table. “As they say in Mexico, what’s up isn’t chipotudo,” the filmmaker replies with his signature sarcasm. “I’m a dinosaur of cinema who still thinks that his films have to be seen collectively: in a dark room with a big screen and with people eating popcorn,” he emphasizes, adding: “I’m trying to show my dignity to defend because I believe in cinema”.
After eight years of silence and after the success of La Ley de Herodes (1999), El Infierno (2010) or La dictadura Perfecto (2014), Estrada returns with his black humor to deal with political satire and Mexican society ahead to snub his worst spirits by saying it’s his “most ambitious” film.
Hooray Mexico! Stars Alfonso Herrera, Ana de la Reguera, Damián Alcázar, Joaquín Cosío and Ana Martín, among other acting greats, and tells the story of Pancho, a man who receives an inheritance from his mining grandfather, and the troubles running in the family after hearing it unleashed the news. “The film is a political bombshell for what is happening in Mexico,” says the director. “It goes beyond Mexican because it’s a compendium of all the political improprieties that have become taboo subjects in our society. It’s a microcosm in which we are all portrayed and in which no one is saved: it’s about intolerance and polarization,” he says. Estrada, the great provocateur, returns to the fray. Even before his film is shown in cinemas.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS México newsletter and receive all the informative keys on current affairs in this country