Instead, Alazraki said in the interview, his stint at USC and a girlfriend there who waited tables to put herself through school taught him the value of work.
"I was an hijo de papi," he said, switching easily back and forth between Spanish and English. A daddy's boy. Destined, probably, to work in his father's business and never want for anything. But in Los Angeles and during his training at the New York Film Academy, "I was blown away about how the U.S. doesn't worship aristocracy but respects self-made men and women."
His study of American Depression-era films that juxtapose the savvy butler with the goofy rich family and where the poor mock the upper crust, planted the seed for the screenplay that Alazraki would co-write. The plot for "Los Nobles" also borrows heavily from Luis Buñuel's 1949 dark comedy, "The Great Madcap." This is Alazraki's first feature-length film, although he had previously directed and produced a handful of shorts.
Alazraki, who plans to make more films aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences in Mexico and the U.S., says he has no illusions about bridging the wide income gap with this movie. Viewers from different classes see different things, he said. The rich like seeing their "eco-system" shown, however unflatteringly, he says, while the poor "have a longing of being heard or seen" and can appreciate the sympathetic portrayal of their daily struggles.
At a recent showing in a Mexico City theater, Alicia Cervantes, a 51-year-old nurse, had brought along her three teenage children to teach them a lesson. "This happens not just with rich families but also with the middle class, where kids today want you to buy them everything, they are lost in their bubble of unreality, and they don't even want to study," Cervantes said.
But Fanny Valencia, 19, a Louis Vuitton bag dangling from her forearm, said she noted exaggerations. "As poor as you might get," she said, "I cannot imagine you'd have to drive a microbus."
Cecilia Sanchez of The Times' Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.