Mauricio Walerstein, a Key Figure in Venezuelan Cinema, Dies

Mexican filmmaker Mauricio Walerstein, who had an influential career in Venezuela, died yesterday at the age of 71. Son of Gregorio Walerstein, one of the top producers of Mexico’s golden era of cinema, he was born in Mexico City in 1945. He got a start as a producer in 1966 with the films Operación 67Operation 67 (René Cardona Jr.) starring Mexican wrestler El Santo, and Los Caifanes / The Outsiders by Juan Ibañez.

During the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies he also produced the films El tesoro de Moctezuma (René Cardona and René Cardona Jr., 1969) also starring El Santo, Paraíso by Luis Alcoriza (1969), Patsy mi amor by Manuel Michel and written by Gabriel García Márquez (1969), and Los cacos by José Estrada (1972).

His directorial debut came in 1969 with the segment "Isabel" in the omnibus film Siempre hay una primera vez. A year later he made his debut feature film Las reglas del juego starring Isela Vega and José Alonso, and he followed with Fin de fiesta / End of the Party a year later.

Walerstein arrived to Venezuela in 1971 to make the film adaptation of the acclaimed novel Cuando quiero llorar no lloro / When I Want to Cry, I Can't by Miguel Otero Silva. Starring Haydée Balza, Rafael Briceño, Verónica Castro, Liliana Durán and Miguel Ángel Landa, the film became a big hit, screening at the Moscow Film Festival and heralding an auspicious era for the cinema of the South American country, under the banner of 'New Venezuelan Cinema.' A poignant social critique, the film follows three young men, from different social classes, all named Victorino, who are born and die on the exact same day.

During the 30 years that he lived in Venezuela, he directed numerous film in Venezuela such as Crónica de un subversivo latinoamericano / Chronicle of a Latin American Subversive (1974), La empresa perdona un momento de locura / The Management Forgives a Moment of Madness (1978), Eva, Julia y Perla (1980), Máxima felicidad (1982), Macho y hembra / Male and Female (1984), Con el corazón en la mano (1988) and Móvil pasional (1992). He also produced the films La quema de Judas (1975) and El pez que fuma / The Smoking Fish (1977) both by Román Chalbaud.

In 2000 he directed the film Juegos bajo la luna, a co-production between Venezuela, Mexico, and Colombia, based on the novel of the same name by Carlos Noguera, which became the last production he shot in Venezuela. His last film was the 2013 Mexican production Canon (Fidelidad al limite), which was nominated for the Ariel Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay.