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Making Mexican Cinema Thrive In France

Picture of Diana Vernon
Updated: 11 January 2017
Barbara Carroll de Obeso, the dynamic Mexican woman behind the French edition of the Viva Mexico film festival, talks to Culture Trip about her ongoing projects, her motivations, and her future plans.

Barbara Carroll

Barbara Carroll de Obeso/ Courtesy of Barbara Carroll


Can you tell us a bit more about your current project InC France-Mexique [film festival Viva México] and what inspired you to launch it?

InC France-Mexique is a non-profit organization that I created in 2010 with two other professionals: Clémence Vazard and Julia Villaseñor. The main purpose is to bring forward an alternative glance at Mexican culture in its plurality through intercultural exchange projects in every contemporary art field.


The founding team/Courtesy of Barbara Carroll

Viva Mexico, Cinematographic Encounters is one of InC France-Mexique’s projects launched in 2013 in Paris. More than a festival, Viva México is a new platform that offers a varied audience, the best examples of contemporary Mexican cinema through projections, encounters with the actors, directors and producers, special screenings for school children and young audiences, as well as conferences and professional meetings. In 2014, Viva México started touring in other cities of France after Paris and the goal is that it becomes the first ‘Tour of Mexican Cinema in France’.

Everything started, in a certain way, ever since my arrival in France. As a professional in cultural engineering, I was convinced of the need to create different Mexican art projects in order to promote all these creators – for most– still unknown in France. It was also important for me to establish a platform that works as a bridge between the two countries and that collaborates creating a new channel of dialogue between creators, institutions, and cultural organizations.


Soirée cloture VM2015

Closing Night Viva Mexico Film Festival/Courtesy of Barbara Carroll

What is the most unusual work-related request that you’ve had”  

Somebody once asked me if I was interested in commercializing Mexican traditional stone skulls, like the ones used for the Día de Muertos and to be the official distributer in France. It was quite a weird situation!

What’s next?

Of course, to continue the development of InC France-Mexique with all its potential through cultural projects, but also by obtaining the resources to have a permanent team because until now, the association works only with volunteers.

Regarding Viva Mexico, there is so much to do, so many possibilities! My main objectives are to develop the touring Festival in France and also, the industry aspect of the festival. Also, one of my main priorities for 2016, as an independent, will be to produce at least two projects with my own structure La Grúa – cultural engineering.

© Maxime Dufour Photographe

‘Trackers’ by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer / © Maxime Dufour Photographer/ photographies_Surface Tension


What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into this field’

To be very persistent because every project implies a lot of work and a lot of difficulties to overcome. To build a large and strong professional network. To always be open and curious.


What is the most memorable moment of your career?

I’ve been lucky because I have had many memorable moments in my career. In a certain way, every time a project becomes real to me is like giving birth. I guess I find the greatest satisfaction in the instants where you see an artist satisfied at the opening of the exhibition you prepared; or the audience touched by a film you programmed; or two artists you introduced, working in a new project together. For me the memorable moments are always when I see an idea become reality.

What is the last movie you’d watch and why?
It’s hard to decide, but at the same time, the first movie that pops into my mind is Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore. It’s a wonderful film that captivated me since the very first time I saw it.  I love Ennio Morricone’s work in this movie and it also awakens beautiful childhood memories,  and a feeling of well being.

Iñárritu or Eastwood’‬  Iñárritu.

‬‪Apple or android’‬  Apple but starting to hesitate.

‪Paris or Mexico? ‬  Ouch,  51% Mexico, 49% Paris.

‪Elena Poniatowska or Octavio Paz?‬  Elena Poniatowska.

‪Ludovico Einaudi or Yann Tiersen?‬  Einaudi.

‪Coffee or Tea?‬  Coffee, but the Mexican way!