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By M. MacLaird

Comparing a large number of Mexican motion pictures made out of the early Nineteen Nineties to the current, this research examines how construction equipment, viewers demographics, and aesthetic techniques have replaced in the course of the earlier 20 years and the way those alterations relate to the country's transitions to a democratic political method and a free-market economic climate.

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The social and political climate in the late 1990s and into the millennial transition is essential for understanding the context under which the privatization of production was discussed. Though labeled a renaissance by the international press, Mexican film production represents the confluence of unprecedented changes and unexpected events: the downfall of the PRI (and its tight institutional control over the media) beginning with losing its majority in congress in 1997 and then the presidency in 2000, Fox’s powerful presidential campaign based on a coalition for “change,” the arrival of the multiplex exhibition, the box-office success of several films, and the launch of new privately funded producers and distributors with a different approach to marketing and publicity.

In the summer of 2000, during the months before the presidential elections, Altavista launched their second film, Amores perros, with an unprecedented media and merchandising campaign. The international success of Amores perros and Y tu mamá también, both financed by new independent producers with private backing, was at once an argument in favor of the creative freedom open to independent filmmakers—or 38 AESTHETICS AND POLITICS at least those with financing—and a gleam of hope for the viability of overall industry success should the whole process be given over to market demands.

Mexico’s preparations for NAFTA focused primarily on deregulation and privatization initiatives; two examples of action in this direction included selling off large film-industry assets and revising its film legislation in 1992 to reduce screen quotas and deregulate ticket prices. The most significant change overall was the privatization of exhibition and distribution, which changed the demographic of the Mexican spectator and subsequently—though with almost no INDUSTRY AND POLICY 23 delay—the content of its cinema.

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