Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón was honored at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual film benefit Monday night for his extensive film career and the quality of his work was greatly praised, but for the Oscar winner the night was overshadowed by the growing unrest in his native country.
The filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter that the government’s lack of transparency regarding the status of 43 missing students and the growing protests were a dark cloud over the celebratory evening.
“It’s difficult to even talk about film when that is hanging over not only every Mexican, but any other person who is aware of what’s going on – a lot of indignation,” Cuarón said.
His longtime friend and fellow filmmaker Guillermo del Toro echoed Cuarón’s sentiments telling the entertainment newspaper, “We feel it’s a very tragic moment for our country. When you have 43 people disappearing, you not only [don't] trust authorities to solve it, but you realize many of the authorities were behind the act.”
The duo, along with Cuarón’s son Jonas, made the event a political platform and took the before the start of the evening, to read an official statement, which was cosigned by an absent Alejandro González Iñárritu, THR reported.
“This past September, 43 students were kidnapped by the local police in the state of Guerrero,” del Toro read. “After a period of apathy, the authorities only then were forced to search for them, due to the protestations of citizens across the entire country and the world, and they found the first of many, many mass graves. None of these graves contained the remains of the missing students. The bodies within them were those of other anonymous victims.”
“Last week, the general attorney announced that the 43 students were handed over by the police to members of a drug cartel to be executed and burned in a public dumpster. But even of the identity of those charred remains awaits proper DNA,” del Toro continued, calling for a united front. “The federal government argues that these events are all just local violence – not so … these killings and forced disappearances reflect a much broader pattern of abuse and are largely a consequence of the longstanding failure of the Mexican authorities.”
He read: “We believe that these crimes are systemic and indicate a much greater evil: the blurred lines between organized crime and the high-ranking officials in the Mexican government. We must demand the answers about this, and we must do it now.”
"We would like to take this opportunity to ask you all to join us in the pain and indignation felt by the families of the disappeared students and of every civilian in Mexico who is living with this atrocious reality on an every day basis and to at least be aware of this systematic human rights violation taking place so often and so close to you," del Toro concluded.
The MoMA’s annual benefit drew the likes of Emile Hirsch, Katie Holmes, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Bloomberg, Cary Fukunaga, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Kim Raver, Bee Shaffer, André Leon Talley, Rachel Roy, Leelee Sobieski, Poppy Delevingne and Joan Smalls.