Mexican filmmakers create fund to help cinema workers

About 30,000 people work in Mexico's film industry}

Mexican filmmakers create fund to help cinema workers during the pandemic
A Mexican cameraman adjusts his camera in front of the church in San Cristobal de los Ranchos - Photo: Gregory Bull/AP
English 12/06/2020 17:55 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City César Huerta/EL UNIVERSAL & Newsroom/AP Actualizada 18:14
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Oscar-winning Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu joined actress Salma Hayek to set up a fund to help support movie industry workers out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mexican Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences announced the fund Thursday. González Iñárritu spoke via a video call.

“This was an act of solidarity with our colleagues in this industry, without asking anybody else besides ourselves,” González Iñárritu said.

The fund called Sifonóforo has raised about USD $440,000 so far, and more donations are expected. Each beneficiary will get a one-time payment of about USD $885.

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The money will go first to technical workers like set, costume, sound, and visual employees left without work after most productions stopped filming amid the pandemic. First in line will be those who are suffering from health problems or who are sole breadwinners.

La Corriente del Golfo, a company founded by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, also contributed to the fund, as did many other Mexican and international production companies.

The Academy estimates that about 30,000 movie production workers have lost their incomes as a result of the industry shut-down.

Most technicians depend economically on film projects, however, 7 out of 10 work on temporary jobs.

The government and industry leaders have not announced any date for resuming production.

“People often ignore how films are made and who are behind the cameras; I want to say that people who make movies are a weak tribe where there is a vast amount of extraordinary trades and others extremely specialized that take years to learn, for there are no schools for being a gaffer or a director assistant,” said González Iñárritu on his participation.

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“We know each other; we build buildings and companies in five, 20 weeks, with a lot of money and responsibility and this pause puts them in danger on an industry that depends on 30,000 people; this union we’re creating fills us with pride for its solidarity,” he stressed.

Mónica Lozano, president of the Academy, said that nearly 40 projects are currently suspended since March. Fiction films and series need 100 people on average, while documentaries need less than 10.

Mexico City’s Film Commission informed last week that it would be until August when it would grant licenses once again.

“The starting date still seems far; we0'e working in protocols, production models, budgets, and new ways of working; no one knows precisely what is going to happen and, amid this crisis, there are many co-workers in highly vulnerable situations,” said Lozano.

The Sifonóforo initiative kick-started today and it will be available until all resources are over.

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