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US and Mexican Missions Partner for Film Screening
May 14, 2012

Remarks by Ambassador Betty E. King
for El Estudiante film screening
U.S. Mission Geneva
May 10, 2012

A group of men and women talking
Ambassador Gomez Camacho speaks with Ambassador Betty King as Mexican filmmaker Roberto Girault (right) looks on.

I’d like to thank Ambassador Gomez Camacho of Mexico and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations for their assistance in coordinating and hosting this fantastic event.

Mexican cinema is steeped in history and tradition, and has captured the hearts of U.S. critics and audiences for decades. Mexico received its first Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film more than 50 years ago, in 1960, for Macario.  Since then, Mexico’s films have been nominated seven additional times – four of which have occurred in the 2000s, showcasing Mexican cinema’s continued and growing force in the global film industry.

One of the more recently nominated films was Pan’s Labyrinth, written and directed by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. Released in late 2006, Pan’s Labyrinth quickly became one of the most universally-acclaimed and highest-grossing foreign films ever released in the U.S.  Del Toro’s absorbing storytelling and incredibly imaginative characters enveloped audiences in the U.S. and worldwide, collecting countless awards along the way.

We are honored this evening to have Roberto Girault, the writer and director of the film El Estudiante share his experiences in the Mexican film industry.  El Estudiante is a heart-warming story of a retiree in his seventies, who enrolls at a university to follow his long-deferred dream of studying literature.  In the process, he tears down the generational gap with a group of youngsters. In a clash of diverse customs and traditions, they share their hopes and dreams, overcoming the challenges of life, romance and friendship.  Tonight, we will watch his story unfold. As we do so, we should keep in mind the protections that allowed this story to be told so beautifully.

It is to these imaginative and real-life characters – and their creators – that we owe intellectual property protection. Such dedicated imagination is only possible because of the hard work of the artists involved is protected by intellectual property rights against unfair appropriation and use. Intellectual property protection today creates a film heritage for the future, safeguarding a nation’s creative output.  Although the nuance of intellectual property law can be a bit of a labyrinth itself, navigating the maze proves well worth the effort when we can sit down, as we are tonight, and enjoy the characters brought to life on screen in films like Pan’s Labyrinth and El Estudiante.