Mexican documentary filmmaker Eugenio Polgovksy died at the age of 40 last Friday in London, England, it was announced today. The cause of his death has not yet been disclosed. With four medium and feature-length films Polgovsky was one of Mexico's leading documentarians, whose work focused on the country's social class disparities, labor, and environmental issues.
Born on June 29, 1977, in Mexico City, Polgovsky studied film directing and cinematography at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC). His first documentary, Tropic of Cancer / Trópico de Cáncer (2004), was the winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Morelia Film Festival and won the Ariel Award for Best First Film, playing in over 100 international film festivals including Cannes' Critics Week, Sundance, and Cinéma du Réel. Trópico de Cáncer was also featured in the series 'In Focus: Cinema Tropical' at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2011, and inspired actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna to create the Ambulante festival to promote documentaries in Mexico.
In 2004, Polgovsky was the recipient of the the National Youth Award in Mexico. In 2008, he directed, photographed and edited Los herederos / The Inheritors, a documentary about children who work in the Mexican countryside. With funding from the Hubert Bals Boundation and Vision Sud Est, he spent three years on the project, which premiered at the Orizzonti section of the Venice Film Festival and became the first documentary to participate in the competition section Generation Kplus at the Berlinale. The film won two Ariel Awards, for Best Documentary and Best Editing; the Best Documentary Award at the Havana Film Festival; and Best Documentary at Chile's FIDOCS, Chile.
The Inheritors had a theatrical release in the U.S., where it was hailed as a "dusty poem... (an) unvarnished portrait of the rural poor in modern-day Mexico" by the New York Times. In 2010, Polgovsky was one of the featured filmmakers at the 56th edition of the Flaherty Film Seminar, programmed by Dennis Lim.
His 2012 medium-length Mitote was a playful portrait of Mexico City's main square, contrasting a shaman's mystical invocations, a protest of angry electricians on a hunger strike, and a euphoric football crowd watching the World Cup games.
His last two productions, the short film Un salto de vida / A Leap of Life (2013) and the feature length Resurrección / Resurrection (2016), were about the rescue of a polluted river in Mexico and the survival of a contiguous village. A Leap of Life won with the Ariel for Best Short Documentary Film.