Remembering Jaime Humberto Hermosillo (1942-2020)
Robin Wood and I met Jaime Humberto Hermosillo in the late 1980s when he invited us to attend a film festival in Guadelajara. Jaime was, in addition to being an admirer of Robin’s writings, familiar with CineAction. A critic at one time, he loved cinema, both the contemporary and the classical. Regarding the latter, he particularly cared for Hollywood’s late classical period. When TTIF invited him to screen and discuss a favorite film, he chose George Cukor’s Les Girls (1957).
We quickly became friends with Jaime. He was easy to relate to being charming, unpretentious, gentle and kind. Equally, it was a pleasure to be introduced to his films including the witty gay themed domestic comedy Dona Herlinda and Her Son (1986), a hit on the art film house circuit. Jaime was openly gay but his work freely dealt with heterosexual relations whether be in drama, The Passion According to Beatrice (1976) or comedy, Homework (1990).
During the early 1990s Jamie spent considerable time in Toronto making friends, trying to connect to the local film industry and he considered living in the city as a part-time resident. Jaime’s work wound-up in the pages of CineAction. Issue 31, 1993, featured Robin’s article, “Homework Times Three” and, additionally, an extensive interview, “The Necessity of Telling a Story” conducted by Robin, Florence Jacobowitz, and myself. Jaime decided eventually to return permanently to Mexico and its film industry which had the reputation of being notoriously difficult in regard to financing projects. An outcome of his Toronto stay was a collaboration between Jaime and Robin on a screenplay, Two Gardenias (1993). Inspired by Stefan Zweig’s novel, Letter from an Unknown Woman, with story by Jaime, the narrative centred on an aging gay movie star who by chance meets a former lover. Their ideal casting choice for the male lead role was Robert Redford. Unfortunately, nothing came of this project.
In the 21st C Jaime continued to work as a teacher and filmmaker until his death. I would like to draw attention to one of numerous overlooked films, eXXXorcismos (2005). Like the Two Gardenias screenplay, its narrative is centred on two gay men who had been lovers. Following a brief present day introduction, the story concerns the lovers as youthful adults. The film is an exceedingly bold intimate chamber piece, including explicit sex scenes. eXXXorcismos achieves a maturity and emotional power that is seldom seen in the gay cinema.
Jaime Humberto Hermosillo’s work didn’t receive the critical attention it deserved. Nonetheless, he never abandoned his commitment to the cinema as it was central to his being.