With today's announcement of the inclusion of Amat Escalante's Heli in the Official Selection of the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, the director joins a distinctive group of Mexican filmmakers that have competed for the prestigious Palm d'Or.
Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel (pictured left) is the Mexican director with the most participation at Cannes' Official Selection. He rapidly became a regular after he premiered his film Los Olvidados at the festival in 1951, wining the Best Director Award. He returned the following two years to present Subida al cielo / Mexican Bus Ride in 1952, and Él in 1953. Few years later, in 1959, he won the International Prize for his film Nazarín.
After that, Buñuel returned three more times in a row: in 1960 with La joven / The Young One; in 1961 with the Mexican-Spanish co-production Viridiana, for which he won the Palm d'Or (ex-aequo with Henri Colpi's The Long Absence) making it the first -and last time, a Mexican film has ever won the coveted award since it was introduced at the festival in 1955.
Buñuel returned once again -and for the last time in the Official Selection, with El angel exterminador / The Exterminating Angel in 1962. His film Tristana had a special out-of-competition screening at the 1970 edition of the festival.
Roberto Gavaldón (pictured right) is the second Mexican filmmaker with the most films selected for competition at Cannes, with four titles: Las tres alegres casadas (1953), El niño y la niebla / The Boy and the Fog (1954), La escondida / The Hidden One (1956), and Macario (1960).
Three Mexican filmmakers have participated three times in Cannes' Official Selection: Emilio "El Indio" Fernández in the forties and early fifties, Arturo Ripstein in the seventies and the nineties, and more recently Carlos Reygadas in the last decade.
Emilio "El Indio" Fernández participated in the very first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946 with María Candelaria starring Dolores del Río and Pedro Armendáriz, the film won the Grand Prix (which was the highest prize at the festival between 1946 and 1954) shared with other films in competition. Fernández returned to the competition at Cannes in 1949 with his film Pueblerina, and one last time in 1953 with the film La red / The Net.
Arturo Ripstein participated at the festival for the first time in 1974 with his film El santo oficio / The Holy Office. Twenty years have had to pass for him to return to the Official Selection with La reina de la noche / The Queen of the Night in 1994. The last time he competed for the Palm d'Or was in 1999 for El coronel no tiene quien le escriba / No One Writes to the Colonel.
Carlos Reygadas (pictured left), has been actively participating at Cannes with his last three films: Batalla en el cielo / Battle in Heaven in 2005, Luz silenciosa / Silent Light in 2007, and more recently Post Tenebras Lux last year, for which he won the prize for Best Director.
The other Mexican filmmaker that has premiered his films in the official competition in the last decade is Alejandro González Iñárritu (pictured below right), whose film Babel gave him the prize for Best Director in 2006. He returned in 2010 with the film Biutiful, which he shot in Barcelona and stars Javier Bardem.
Nine other Mexican filmmakers have participated in the competition with one film each: (in chronological order) Miguel M. Delgado with Los tres mosqueteros (1946); Tito Davidson with Doña diabla / The Devil Is a Woman (1951); Julio Bracho with La ausente / The Absentee (1952); Miguel Morayta with El mártir del calvario / The Martyr of Calvary (1954); Benito Alazraki with Raíces (1955); Alfredo B. Crevenna with Talpa (1956); Ismael Rodríguez with La cucaracha (1959); Luis Alcoriza with Tarahumara (1965), and more recently, Guillermo del Toro with the Mexican-Spanish co-production El laberinto del fauno / Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).
Only one Mexican woman director has participated in the Official Selection, that was Carmen Toscano de Moreno (pictured right) with the documentary film Memorias de un mexicano / Memories of a Mexican in 1954. It's important to note than in the 1950s Mexican filmmakers had easier access to the Cannes Film Festival. Both editions of 1953 and 1954, saw a record-breaking three films from Mexico in competition each year. For many years, the Mexican presence at Cannes was very limited.
Additionally there's a handful of foreign directors that have participated in the Palm d'Or competition with Mexican productions, that is the case of Argentinean director Tulio Demicheli who participated at Cannes with Un extraño en la escalera / A Stranger on the Stairs in 1955; Spanish director Carlos Velo with Pedro Páramo in 1967; Chilean director Miguel Littín with Actas de Marusia / Letters from Marusia in 1976, and with El recurso del método / The Recourse to the Method (in co-production with Cuba) in 1978; and Brazilian director Ruy Guerra with Eréndira in 1983.