Guillermo del Toro began his directorial career as part of Mexico’s state-funded cinematic revival of the early 1990s with Cronos (1993). But even then, with this seemingly local project, he was casting his film (and subsequent career) beyond the national. The nature of Cronos (a contemporary vampire film replete with references to Hollywood vampirism, a transnational cast, and some dialogue in English) ran counter to the preferred nationalist, realist, auteurist (and indeed art-house) model usually favored for funding by the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) (Shaw, 2013, 20–22). In the end IMCINE made its feelings clear about the low cultural value of the project by contributing only a small amount to the production costs (the rest was supplied by Los Angeles-based Ventana Films), but the film still earned critical and institutional approbation both from abroad (at numerous festivals) and with its subsequent winning of nine Arieles—the highest accolade in Mexican filmmaking. That del Toro was an uneasy fit within the prevailing currents of institutionalized Mexican film culture and its preferred cadre of filmmakers is partly why there was a delay in the making of his next film, Mimic (1997), and also why this film was a “Hollywood” production (Wood, 2006, 122).
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