In addition to directing series, Curiel makes his own films

Director Álvaro Curiel in #PRODUprimetime: Iñárritu, Cuarón and Del Toro left because there were no opportunities in Mexico but today it is the opposite
30 de julio de 2021

“All my friends, directors of the CCC, Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, and my colleagues from film schools, all of them, are working. You talk to them and they say: ‘I'm doing a series for Amazon, for Netflix.’ There are many opportunities in Mexico today,” said the Mexican director Álvaro Curiel de Icaza in #PRODUprimetime with Ríchard Izarra. He directed the series Somos., recently released and that reached the top 1 on Netflix in Mexico. He is currently working for a project with Sony Latin America, and is talking about a proposal in Germany, which came precisely because of his work in Somos.


"What happened to Cuarón? What happened to Iñárritu and Del Toro?" he asked himself. “Beyond the enormous talent they have, they had to leave because Mexico could not provide them with any opportunity. At that time there were no movies, there were no series. Those three directors, if they had been in today's Mexico, would have had many opportunities. We are of the next generation. They opened the way for us, and we had harvested what we all worked for, in some way, since 1990,” he added.


RI: But are you interested in doing the crossover? We know that you have already directed a second unit for Hollywood in the US.

AC: "I'm going to be very honest, because I also have representation in the US. There was a time when I was going to burn everything, sell everything and move to the US. Rodrigo García, García Márquez's son, who is a person to whom I admire a lot, encouraged me by saying: 'Álvaro, you have everything to do it'. At that time, about 12-13 years ago, I thought about it, because the conditions were not yet in place to come and go as we do now. I think that right now, regardless of the zip code where you live, you can do projects there and here. I think a new opportunity opens up no matter where you live. Next week I have a meeting to do a huge and incredible project in Europe, in Germany: I have my fingers crossed. Now we can all come and go. But yes, I am interested in the crossover.”


“Today I have the honor of being with a talented Mexican director who comes from a family of filmmakers and musicians, and since he was born he has been in the artistic environment. He has been directing series for about 15 years, having made at least 300 episodes of different genres and for different companies. His namesake, the famous TV critic Álvaro Cueva, has described him as ‘the best series director we have in Mexico.’ Recently, one of his most acclaimed works, the series Somos., for Netflix, was released. He is Álvaro Curiel de Icaza,” said Ríchard to introduce him.


His credits include the Televisa series under the "Made in Mexico" label that began in 2006 and was promoted by Pepe Bastón when he was president of TV. Among them he directed M13DOS, Terminales, later adapted by ABC Family as Chasing Life; Los Simuladores; Mujeres Asesinas, Los Héroes del Norte, which he wrote with Gustavo Loza. Of this attempt, he thinks that Televisa had no patience and that he had to wait a while longer before suspending them in 2010. Due to this he went to Colombia, where he spent about eight years and participated in FOXTelecolombia in the realization of series such as Cumbia Ninja. Also with Lemon Studios and Channel Once he directed episodes of Paramédicos. For Azteca he made La Teniente, by Benjamin Salinas himself. For Disney, Hasta que te Conocí.


“I have been trying for many years to make TV a good place for everyone, and precisely this series Somos. proves that we can make a TV of another level. I did not expect that great success. I know we did it with a lot of dedication. It was done by one of the best crew that I have ever faced in my life. Sandra Solares is an incredible producer, and of course we are talking about James Schamus, this Hollywood producer who has three Oscar nominations. I told James: ‘It’s going to cost you a lot of work to compete with other projects that are here on the market, including projects that were mine’. To my surprise, James's response shut my mouth: ‘Álvaro: this experiment, this madness called Somos. It can also have an important space. ' And people are receiving it very gratefully. For me it is an absolute novelty that people are going crazy, recommending it and saying that it is something you can’t miss. I still don't believe it,” he pointed out about the audience's response to Somos..


On working with non-actors, as was the case with Somos., he said: “When James told us 'we are going with only non-actors,' imagine the responsibility you feel as a director: you are terrified! Because I have said that I would not work if they are not actors, because I love actors. First we had the best casting director in this country, his name is Bernardo Velasco, who made the Mexican film that was close to being nominated for an Oscar, Ya no Estoy Aquí, by Fernando Frías, also with non-actors. Bernardo made a spectacular selection. Then I went to Durango to work for three weeks and play with those people to see who really had the ability to become characters. It was a super-intimate job with these guys who work in an auto repair shop, as in the case of Jesús Sida (Paquito); or people who worked as cowboys in the town of Durango John Wayne doing stunts, or who worked as teachers. In that three-week I also learned how to make them react.”


He continued: “But the moment we started, everything began to work. As if by magic, Paquito, for example, Jesús Sida, I saw him breathing deeply: I'm very nervous but right now it's going to go away.’ This speaks of the courage with which he faced this project, and so they all. It was a real joy. James was very clear: 'I don't want to be the producer sitting with the monitor next to you, bothering you. I'm going to let you create.' There were five episodes about the lives of these people, and for the sixth he told me: ‘Álvaro, this is your episode’ and it was practically an hour and a half movie, a feature film. There James did release the handbrake ... ".


Álvaro, in addition to directing series, makes his own films. He is currently on his fourth feature film, Tú Eres mi Problema, directed and written by himself, starring Bárbara Mori and to be released in a few months. Of this film he commented: “There is a new very important studio in Mexico called Talipot Studio. It is wonderful because they are trying to make quality films. They take risks and put all the money; they don't ask the government for money. The film that opened the Cannes festival was theirs, Leos Carax. They trusted me, they asked me for a story and I sold them this one, Tú Eres mi Problema, which, according to Netflix, ‘is the best performance of Barbara Mori's career.’ You can imagine after having directed non-actors, arriving with an actress with all the trajectory of Barbara ... I am very happy. Cinema is a space that I cannot give up.”

View interview here