Widely considered Mexico's most celebrated and respected contemporary filmmaker, as well as perhaps the only director to have truly inherited Luis Buñuel's mantle, Arturo Ripstein is a legend in his own right. His films have earned both fame and infamy for taking melodrama to its macabre extremes, and they reflect the director's fascination -- one shared by Buñuel -- with l'amour fou and claustrophobia. Although his films have been enthusiastically received outside of Mexico in France and Spain, Ripstein is largely unknown to American audiences, an oversight that is unfortunate at the very least.
Born in Mexico City on December 13, 1945, Ripstein was the son of producer Alfredo Ripstein, Jr. Growing up on the sets of his father's films, he became infatuated with the idea of becoming a filmmaker at a very young age. He began his professional career at the age of 19 as the (unbilled) assistant director to Buñuel on El Ángel Exterminador (1962). This working relationship gave rise to a close personal friendship that continued until Buñuel's death, and although Ripstein has claimed that he learned very little from working with the master director (because, he once stated in an interview, Buñuel was "perfect"), the latter's influences on his films are unmistakable.