'Three Amigos' friendship key to success, say Mexican filmmakers

Dubbed the "Three Amigos," directors Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron have amassed multiple Oscars between them and forged a golden age of Mexican filmmaking.

At a Los Angeles event Friday celebrating their new films, the trio told AFP their long-standing friendship had been essential to their success -- even if they don't take their Hollywood nickname too seriously.

"Amigo one calling amigo two!" said del Toro, nudging Cuaron.

"I could have been a good director without their intervention. But they have intervened and I survived!" joked Inarritu.

The bond between the directors -- born just a few years apart -- goes back decades, with Cuaron and del Toro finding success together in television, and Inarritu in radio, before each switching to filmmaking.

Back as far back as breakthrough hits such as Inarritu's "Amores Perros" in 2000, the compatriots have frequently traded notes on new projects, and even helped to totally re-edit each other's works.

"Honestly, I think it has been crucial... To not be walking lonely in this job is a beautiful gift for us," said Inarritu.

"Either we talk or we don't talk, but I know that the other two are there for anything," agreed Cuaron.

"Sometimes you even avoid their opinion! You go 'I will just keep going because I know what they're gonna tell me!'" joked del Toro.

- 'A little easier' -

In 2018, Cuaron -- marginally the oldest of the triumvirate -- made waves in Hollywood by teaming with Netflix to create "Roma," an intimate black-and-white drama that earned him his second Oscar for best director (after "Gravity.")

Inarritu and del Toro have recently followed him to partner with the streaming giant.

For Inarritu, who won back-to-back Academy Awards with "Birdman" and "The Revenant," Netflix provided the opportunity to make his most personal film yet.

The sprawling, dreamlike "BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths" follows a celebrated Mexican filmmaker as he explores the fuzzy lines between reality and memory, life and death, and the US and Mexico.

Its main character is granted a prestigious global award by a US institution, prompting a period of dramatic soul-searching -- and evoking parallels with the careers of the "Three Amigos."

"I don't think that it has changed us as filmmakers... but definitely recognition like the Oscars or awards, they make sometimes the journey a little easier later on," said Cuaron.

- 'Life-changing' -

For del Toro, his best picture and best director Oscars for "The Shape of Water" in 2018 were "a life-changing thing."

"You don't know you have a chip on your shoulder until it disappears. And it kind of disappeared that night for me," he said.

"It was beautiful. And it was very, very, very moving."

His latest movie "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio," a dark, animated take on the Italian novel about an exuberant living puppet, has been another hit.

It is tipped to win best animation prizes at next week's Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, and is a likely frontrunner for the Oscars in March.

But when asked what the joint secret to their success has been, the trio refused to be drawn into a serious answer.

"I think our craving for tacos maybe, that's what we share... but he always wins!" said Inarritu, pointing at del Toro.

"I think humor," responded del Toro. "And good breath!"

amz/dva