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During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema (a period between 1936 -1959), Canadian-born cinematographer Alex Phillips (Ontario, 1900) and Spanish-born film director Luis Buñuel (Aragón, 1900), became symbols for Mexican cinema. Alex Phillips arrived in Mexico in 1931 and never left; he worked on more than 200 films, including Mexico’s first sound film, Santa (1931). In 1973, Alex Phillips was awarded with the Golden Ariel (Mexico’s highest film recognition) for his body of work.


Luis Buñuel filmed 21 of his 32 films in Mexico including Los Olvidados (1950), a film recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s audiovisual heritage. In 1961, he directed Viridiana, the only film from Mexico ever to win the Palme d’Or for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival.


Alex Phillips and Luis Buñuel worked together on two films: Ascent to Heaven (Subida al cielo) (1952) and Robinson Crusoe (1954). Ascent to Heaven premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and it received four nominations at the Mexican Academy Awards, including for Best Director.


Robinson Crusoe was the first film Buñuel filmed in colour. Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy received an Oscar nomination for the role, and the film won the awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor at the Mexican Academy Awards, where Phillips also received a nomination for Best Cinematography.


In partnership with the Vancity Theatre, the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival is thrilled to present these two films that brought together the legendary geniuses of Alex Phillips and Luis Buñuel, who devoted their finest years to Mexico’s film industry. 



(Subida al cielo)


7PM -  Monday September 7th. (Vancity Thatre)


Mexico, 1952

Spanish with English subtitles/ 80 min



Director: Luis Buñuel

Writers: Luis Buñuel, Juan de la Cabada, Manuel Altolaguirre

Producers: Manuel Altolaguirre, María Luisa Gómez Mena

Cinematographer: Alex Phillips

Editors: Rafael Portillo, Luis Buñuel

Cast: Lilia Prado, Carmen González, Esteban Márquez


Newlywed Oliverio receives disturbing news that his mother is on her deathbed. He travels to a remote part of Mexico to fetch a lawyer who can sort out her will. Leaving his wife behind, he embarks on a bus ride that's interrupted by an increasingly absurd series of episodes, including an impromptu birthday celebration; a one-legged man writhing in the mud; come-ons from an insatiable small-town belle, Raquel; and Oliverio's frequent, Freudian nightmares.



Mexico, 1954


8:15PM -  Monday September 7th. (Vancity Thatre)


English and Spanish with English subtitles/ 90 min

Director: Luis Buñuel

Writers: Luis Buñuel and Hugo Butler (based on the book by Daniel Defoe)

Producers: Óscar Dancigers, Henry Ehrlich

Cinematographer: Alex Phillips

Editors: Carlos Savage, Alberto Valenzuela, Luis Buñuel

Cast: Dan O’Herlihy, Jaime Fernández


Luis Buñuel made this adaptation of one of the world’s most famous shipwreck novels, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, during his Mexican period. Despite the fact that the film veers from Buñuel’s “usual” style, for most it is considered the best film version of Defoe’s book, since the director left his personal touch on the story, and when that director is Buñuel, there’s little room for mediocrity.