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Mexican Cinema Enjoys a Growing Buzz

Films from Mexico have been finding viewers in the United States and around the world. This year, directors of three films with Oscar buzz are all Mexican: Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labrynth and Babel, by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Inarritu has already won the Golden Globe for best drama.

Filmmakers in Mexico say that their industry, which has been around for 100 years, is in recovery.

"We have a total of 16 nominations," says Leonardo Garcia Tsao, the head of Cineteca, the Mexican government's film archive. "We have 10 Mexican citizens going up for an award, that's really amazing. I mean, it's historical."

But many involved in the country's film industry say that Mexico still exports most of its talent north of the border, to Hollywood. In 2002, Mexico produced 14 films. In 2006, the number rose to about 60. But the films all have small budgets. Babel, for instance, or Children of Men, could not have been made in Mexico.

Still, there is good news on the horizon. Mexico's congress recently approved a bill that would allow tax breaks for companies that invest in Mexican cinema. The goal is to return production to what it was before NAFTA: about 100 a year.

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Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.

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