‘I’m No Longer Here’ director Fernando Frias de la Parra on representing Mexico in the Oscars race [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Fernando Frias de la Parra pulled triple duty on his new film, “Ya No Estoy Aqui” (“I’m No Longer Here”), as director, writer and co-editor. He readily admits to being overwhelmed by the positive reactions to his film. “The way the Mexican audience and in Colombia, Argentina and Brazil responded, I would never have imagined that.” Frias de la Parra was part of Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts panel, conducted virtually by this writer (watch the exclusive video above).

Set in Monterrey, “I’m No Longer Here” follows Ulises, the leader of a young street gang, who is forced into exile in the US after a run-in with local drug dealers. His life is upended as he struggles to adapt. And while he finds some solace in his dancing, Ulises longs to return home to the counterculture world of Kolombia.

The film, which is streaming on Netflix, swept the 2020 Ariel Awards, winning 10 trophies including Best Picture and three more for Frias de la Parra in his various capacities. It was no surprise then that the Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences, which administers these awards, selected “I’m No Longer Here” as the country’s submission for Best International Feature at this year’s Oscars. For Frias de la Parra, “this is incredible because this is a film that started its path here and now it has been selected to go further away. It reflects on the tone of the film.”

Frias de la Parra detailed the casting process for Los Terkos, using unknowns versus name actors, including Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño who plays Ulises. To make his movie, he eschewed the use of hand-held cameras that are a trademark of cinema verite in favor of more traditional filming methods.

Frias de la Parra also revealed his heartfelt reaction to watching two Oscar-winning directors from Mexico —  Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”) and Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) — express their admiration for his film in a conversation recorded by Netflix. “The first time I saw that video, I couldn’t even finish it. I thought, ‘Where is the hidden camera; are you joking?’ I’ve since had conversations and their analysis and opinions go deep.”

His first feature, “Rezeta,” won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival. His 2009 documentary “Calentamiento Local” was named Best Digital Film at FICCO (Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporáneo) in 2009 and claimed Best TV Documentary at DOCSDF.

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