The theatrical release of “Hecho en Mexico” was only in Mexico, which begs the question, what is the documentary really about? Is it to say “look, it’s not really that bad here” to all the Mexicans who were angered by the election results or is it a true window into the Mexican music scene?
British director of the film, who is actually more of a music producer Duncan Bridgeman wrote on his Huffington Post UK blog post: “I really believed that the PR of Mexico was much worse than the reality. I was right. There is madness there but most of the 110m Mexicans are just getting on with their day, dealing with the crisis of lost love or worrying about their mum or trying to earn a living, or writing a song with a visiting musician. These were the people I was going to meet.”
He clearly set out on a journey to discover Mexico in his own way, the way many artists, musicians and travelers (not just tourists) do. The reality is that since Felipe Calderon’s war on drug trafficking begun, Mexico has been hit with a decrease in tourism and a lot of speculation about safety. Whether or not Bridgeman intended to show Mexico in a good light, it seems that many critics can’t ignore what he consciously avoided, as the interview on Frente indicates, he intentionally stayed away from controversial topics such as Mexican politics. I haven’t seen the film but I am still interested, partly because it seems to be a cultural expression of music and art in Mexico. I do feel that taking politics away from art is like showing only one side, because regardless of how people think or what they think, it’s a part of culture and avoiding controversy only makes it worse, it’s like silencing the opposition.
It speaks volumes that Televisa execs supported the film, especially now that the youth movement #Yosoy132 has been critical of the journalistic integrity and coverage that the powerful corporation has exhibited since its inception. I suppose the film could be looked at as a propaganda video from the powers that be, to show Mexico in a good light.
The way I see it is that there are good things and there are bad things about Mexico, and clearly Bridgeman’s documentary is meant to show the good things. One of those good things is the music, and I think that’s really great because Mexico does have some amazing musicians, and as a Mexican I love for people to learn about my country. I would also love it if people would stop considering Mexico only as a quaint little country that has a few cute songs to offer to the world. I’m glad at least more people know there’s more than Mexican soap operas and soccer though.
I would say, without watching the film, that it seems less of a documentary and more of Bridgeman’s audiovisual essay about Mexico. It seems to me that he was interested in experimenting with music and with musicians and trying to see what’s in Mexico that’s magical. Many great artists, musicians, film makers and writers have seen that which makes Mexico a special place, and it has nothing to do with whatever Televisa and TV Azteca produce. It has everything to do with the spiritual path that Mexican people have trailed on since Mayan times. Mexico has always had many realities, the oppression of its people by external as well as internal forces, the rich cultural heritage, the fragmented society, the few powerful, the north and the south. It’s not good to deny any of the realities, but I hope Bridgeman’s work about Mexico is more than propaganda and at least shows some aspect of Mexican truth.