María Candelaria is a Mexican film from 1943 that went on to win the best film award at the Cannes International Film Festival.
The film was packed with talented individuals who were able to use it as a means to elevate Mexican cinema at a time where there wasn't any significant exposure. The chemistry of the main characters was cited as one of the critical aspect that made the film so alluring for the audiences.
The story begins with a scene of an old painter who reveals his canvas, a portrait of a woman, which transports the audience into the story. The female lead, María Candelaria, is shunned by her own people because she was the daughter of a what townsfolk decided was a prostitute for having posed nude for a portrait. Upon seeing how the locals treat María, a young man – Lorenzo – steps in to protect her. The young couple fall in love and want to get married, despite the difficult circumstances facing them.
The film looks at the situation of Mexico during the 1940s and serves as a reflection upon the social class divisions that kept the few rich people in the money and the majority having to follow whatever the rich decided.