There was at least one surprise and one expected announcement on the second day of the 6th Platino Awards. The expected results came when the three audience awards of the year were announced. Two of them went to Mexico’s internationally popular ‘Roma.’ But more surprising was when the event organizers announced, with John Bailey in the audience, that the Academy had decided to qualify the ‘Platino Awards’ as a ceremony whose winners automatically qualify for Academy Award consideration. Read on about these developments as well as our conversations with some of the stars in attendance.
Spanish Superstar Raphael Honored First
The morning began with Spanish singer Raphael taking the stage to accept the “Honorary Platino” award. Raphael, perhaps not well-known in English-speaking countries, is likely one of the most important Spanish performers of the last fifty years. His career spans over 50 albums, a multitude of platinum and gold records, and a healthy diet of movies. He is immensely popular in Russia in addition to Latin America, and singled out Mexico in particular. The singer recalled one of his first big international tours, in Madison Square Garden in the 1970s, and spoke of his desire to further ‘Platino Awards’ goal of fostering inclusion through art and culture.
In its first five years, the Platino Awards have given the prize to the likes of Antonio Banderas, Edward James Olmos, and Adriana Barraza.
Audiences Continue to Shower ‘Roma’ With Love
Next up were the audience awards. According to the ceremony’s organizers, over 140,000 across the globe voted on three categories. Javier Bardem, not in attendance, was named the Best Actor for his performance in Asghar Fahardi’s ‘Everybody Knows.’ Surprising no one, first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio won for Best Actress. The star of the Oscar-winning film was not on hand to receive her award. Producer Gabriela Rodriguez thanked the audience and promised that Aparacio will be in attendance for the main event. Rodriguez and co-producer Nicolas Celis took to the stage again when Alfonso Cuaron’s film won the Best Film prize moments later. Eugenio Caballero, the Oscar-nominated art director of the film, joined them.
Rodriguez expressed gratitude at the continued love shown for “their little movie.” Minutes later we asked her how she felt: “Exhausted, but so so happy,” she offered. “Are you going to sleep ever?” we said. “Eventually I’ll sleep,” she joked, “but, really, I’m dreaming and don’t want to wake.”
Academy Elevates ‘Platino Awards’ Profile
Moments later, as the press scurried to interview Ibero-American stars, I caught Academy President John Bailey sitting alone in the audience. “They don’t have to have screenings, this is new of course, and this is very big,” Bailey told us, explaining the new qualification rule. “Our process is very open,” he continued. “The unfortunate thing is that non-English language films do not get much distribution in the U.S., specially today. Thirty or forty years ago international films were huge in all the big cities. Not so much now,” Bailey said. “We have so much international communication but there is so much content, you have to have a megaphone to say ‘here! see my movie!'”
Bailey pointed out that, as anyone who reads this outlet knows, the default qualification rule is a one week release in Los Angeles prior to streaming release – or “airline release,” as he called it. “Now, we have certain festivals, for example the Documentary Features, that automatically qualify them. Now, the Platino award-winning films will qualify.”
Stars Talk to Awards Circuit About Inclusion Issues
First we spoke to Manolo Caro, his new Netflix project, and homophobia in Mexico and the world. “Netflix has given me absolute freedom [for the new show],” Caro said. “I’m a bit nervous because I have never done a pure drama, and it’s a new format, but
I am excited.” The miniseries will be three episodes set in 1950s Spain during the Franco dictatorship. Talking about the homophobia expressed in “Perfect Strangers,” originally an Italian production, he said: “The curious thing is that all the versions, Italian, Spanish, Korean, the theme resonates in the public’s mind. It’s somewhat alarming that the homophobic tone in the movie seems so familiar to audiences over the world. From the beginning of my career I have committed to giving visibility to certain topics that I want to discuss with different languages. Trans characters cannot be the problematic, sordid characters. The gay world is not a caricature or a comedy. This is a commitment I have had my entire career.” As for directors that have inspired him: “Many,” he said. “Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Cassavetes, Almodovar, Cuaron are directors that are always in my head,” he offered.
Next up was Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, who we saw in The Magnificent Seven and will soon star in Michael Bay’s Six Underground. “I love that kid,” he said about Manolo on his way to the interview share. “I love working with him and I am so happy he is doing so well.”
But Garcia-Rulfo is not doing so bad himself, particularly as he obtains name recognition in front of the camera. “We were recording for four months all over Italy and then Dubai and Budapest,” he said about the upcoming Bay film. “It will be very Michael Bay, a lot of action. I am excited, we are about to start promoting it.” On why more Latin-American or Latinx actors do not get more main roles: “I think it’s happening. We have Diego Luna in Star Wars, Gael has done well. We need to do it in an organic way. If we just put in token characters, people will resist. But people love to see us, and it is happening. Of course Mexican directors are doing so well.” Garcia-Rulfo was candid that he found excessive political correctness to be “in poor taste,” a view that is not necessarily popular stateside.
I asked him which directors or stars he would like to work with, he signaled Terence Malick and Martin Scorsese. We also discussed class, income inequality, and homophobia across Latin America. “The issues are very real, as we show in [Perfect Strangers],” he said. “The society remains divided, and we have a lot of machismo and the likes, still, unfortunately. We have to stop. Awards like these can at least help us globalize, and Spanish-speaking people of different countries unite. Sometimes we do not even know what is happening in other countries when it comes to film. This weekend allows us all to get together. I am curious to go find the others artists.”
On a break, we spotted Edward J. Olmos, as well as Cuban actor William Levy, who told me about his recent successful collaboration with Lee Daniels.
Next up was Eugenio Caballero, who won an Oscar way back in 2007 for Pan’s Labyrinth and returned, as an Academy member, to the list of nominees with ‘Roma.’ “There was a funny similarity between the two projects,” he told us. “I was having lunch with Guillermo [Del Toro] at Cannes way back, and he told me of his vision. He said he had the entire movie in his head but had not written it, and I could not see the script. I had to make it all up. And, frankly, Spanish people did not react well to the film. They did not like the Civil War mixed in with little monsters. But it was similar to ‘Roma,’ we didn’t see a script.”
“A lot of the work involved with ‘Roma,'” he continued, “was bringing a memory to life. But the memory is only the beginning. You still have to visualize and project a city that is no longer there. I happened to live in the Roma neighborhood myself when I was growing up, so that helped. For the house, we wanted to have a real set because we had so many non-professional actors. We had to have something for them to feel and touch. We also had a very specific depiction of class we wanted to give. Every little piece, every little thing has meaning. There are the political meanings, but also the class meanings. There
differences between Cleo’s room, and the sets in the pueblo, and then the family’s house. And then from there, the much more opulent setting of the hacienda, above all of them. All of this was conveying meaning. By the way the big avenues were a big challenge – we constructed huge sets for these. The problem was to solve the puzzle of how to actually create it physically and how to complete it digitally.”
On the way out I caught up with Daniel Vega and asked her why, in her estimation, trans-phobia has proven so difficult to eradicate. “People fear love,” she said. “It is counter-intuitive, but that’s what it is. We need to make people not be afraid to love everyone. But I am very happy with my career, and I have a lot of work coming up.”