The films of the Cannes 2013 official competition will be arriving to Mexican cinemas little by little. It's very likely that we won't get to see some of them until next year (or maybe just on Blu-Ray), but for now the company Mantarraya, through its distribution division ND Mantarraya, has confirmed the release date for Amat Escalante's third feature film Heli, which is Mantarraya's own production and the only Mexican film selected this year for competition.
"The current corruption-fueled landscape of many towns in modern Mexico, with violent drug cartels and human trafficking responsible for most of the economy, seems ripe for hard-hitting, socially conscious neo-noir, and so I'm very anxious to see Amat Escalante's tale of a man confronting it all head-on as he searches for his missing father".
The Spanish-born Mexican filmmaker Escalante divided the critics at Cannes, but the jury led by Steven Spielberg ended honoring him with the Best Director award. Escalante became the third Mexican director to earn this prestigious award in the last 10 years, as Alejandro González Iñárritu won for Babel in 2006 and Escalante's own mentor, Carlos Reygadas, for Post Tenebras Lux in 2012.
Much like Reygadas' triumph (after Post Tenebras Lux was booed), Escalante's came unexpectedly. When Ryland Aldrich reported the winners at Cannes 2013 for ScreenAnarchy, he said the following about the Best Director award:
"The biggest surprise of the night was Amat Escalante's Best Director award for the relatively disregarded film Heli. The first competition film to screen at the fest, Heli was generally disliked by much of the press, even though it did feature some striking scenes of violence and a window into the long-arm of the Mexican drug trade".
It seems to me that Mexican audiences will either love or hate this film, but it won't be ignored. Or perhaps it will, as I remember Reygadas saying that Post Tenebras Lux wasn't doing very well during its theatrical run in Mexico (he said this last December during a Q&A at Mexico's Cinematheque). Neverhtless, I think Heli is a film that every Mexican cinephile should check out. So remember, August 9 is the opening day.