He is one of the most recognisable faces in cinema today. The Mexican actor, filmmaker and producer Gael Garcia Bernal has worked with some of the most renowned directors and actors in contemporary American and European film - including Pedro Almodovar, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. 

In Latin America there is now a strong critical mass .... We're questioning the biggest accomplishments of the 20th century in terms of organisation. We are questioning democracy, legitimate power, the legitimate use of power; we are questioning the quality of our government. That is almost sacrilegious, but we have been able to question it. And I think cinema hasn't been shy of that as well. I think cinema does its job.

Gael Garcia Bernal, actor and film director

Bernal's films are often political. He has played the revolutionary Che Guevara twice, most famously in The Motorcycle Diaries, for which he received a BAFTA nomination.

He recently played Maziar Bahari, a journalist who was wrongfully imprisoned in Iran in Rosewater, a film by The Daily Show's outgoing host Jon Stewart.

Yet despite his international success, Bernal has long championed cinema of the continent that he comes from and has devoted himself to small-budget socially-minded productions.

He is a co-founder of production company Canana Films, which is based in Mexico City, and focuses on films that tell important social and political realities.

"In Latin America", Bernal once said, "you don't do things for the money. Because there is no money".

Instead, it seems that with the countries and cultures of Latin America so rich in history, conflict and politics, there is an abundance of stories to tell - and few are better equipped than Bernal to bring those stories to us.

We caught up with Bernal while he was attending the Doha Film Institute's Qumra event, which brings together new filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa with leading professionals from around the world.

Bernal spoke to us about carving out a career on the peripheries of Western cinema, playing Che Guevara, how Latin Americans are questioning legitimate power, and Mexico's missing students.

Source: Al Jazeera