Park City, Utah – With the Academy Awards a month away, Mexican director and actor Diego Luna added his voice to the controversy surrounding the lack of diversity in this year's nominations.
Luna, who spoke to Fox News Latino at the Sundance Film Festival, said the problem goes deeper than a simple award.
“It’s the world we live in that needs to be fixed," he said. “We should be talking about the world we live in where there’s borders and barriers for people to actually connect and interact—where there’s priorities that are not necessarily the priorities of people dictating what’s out, what gets attention, what doesn’t.”
The three-time Sundance director, who premiered his latest film "Mr. Pig" on Tuesday, said the landscape of Hollywood films can be changed through what he believes is the immense power audiences hold.
“Every day I work to tell stories that matter to me, and if audiences accept the responsibility they have, this can change fast,” said Luna. “When you buy a ticket, you allow a voice to exist, and when you don’t buy a ticket, you’re sending a message.”
Luna's "Mr. Pig" co-star and longtime friend, José María Yazpik, said adding more minority members to the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Science – as was recently approved – will only make a small difference. He said it comes down to casting.
“I think that if you’re going to try to have more diversity it has to come from the jobs you’re giving people, not only at awards season,” said Yazpik. “Us Latinos have a very tough time getting important roles or Oscar-worthy roles because there’s none.”
He added: “It’s having Latino actors or African American actors or whatever from the start, no? Giving every kind of people jobs—interesting and important jobs.”
Regarding fellow Mexican artists like Gael García Bernal and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s recent Hollywood attention, Luna said the increasing prevalence of Mexican talent in Hollywood has more to do with the vicious drug war in his home country.
“We are living a very difficult time in Mexico—that the need of artists in Mexico to express, to vomit what’s happening, to say it, to put it out there, to reflect on it—it’s so intense that it’s making all of these voices have so much echo around the world,” he said.
Luna said the war on drugs and the resulting deaths of thousands of Mexicans serves as a big push for his fellow countrymen to make their voices heard in Hollywood.
“It’s very dramatic and art is always needed if change is needed. There’s a need to connect and to express and it’s that drive,” he said. “The saddest news brings fantastic stuff in terms of art.”
Despite the increase in Mexican voices in Hollywood, the “Y tu Mamá También” star maintains that the viewers play an important role in creating more diversity in the movie business.
“Let’s, as audiences, create the world we want to live in and the films we want to see on screen, and then awards will be celebrating them,” he said.
Angela M. Santos is a freelance reporter based in Utah.