Mexico fest showcases Latin cinema

'Esmerelda' takes audience prize

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — The Mexican films generating the most buzz at the Guadalajara film fest captured top honors at the 13th Muestra — or showcase — of Mexican and IberoAmerican cinema.

The audience prize went to Jaime Humberto Hermosillo’s “Esmeralda Comes by Night” (De Noches Vienes Esmeralda), which also won a special mention from the international jury. The international jury tapped “La Primera Noche” by Alejandro Gamboa for best pic.

The Mexican jury awarded the best pic honor to Carlos Marcovich’s “Who the Hell Is Juliette?” (Quien Diablos es Juliette?) and a special mention to “Fiber Optic” (Fibra Optica) by Francisco Athie.

Just eight features were in competition this year, thanks to anemic production levels in Mexico of the past few years. But organizers and producers alike hope the 1999 fest will reflect the creation of a $16 million state fund in December.

Interest in Spanish and Portuguese-lingo pics is up, fest organizers said, with a 50% increase in attendance from last year to more than 30,000. They attributed the increase in part to the use of larger theaters sprinkled around the city, providing access to a wider public.

Also brightening the outlook for Latino film is the announcement of a new Ibero-American fund to support co-productions.

Following the fifth annual meeting of the Ibero-American Film Authorities Conference (CACI) held during the Muestra, representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela collectively pledged an initial $3.5 million for an “Ibermedia” program.

Ibermedia will dedicate 60% of the funds for loans for co-productions. To be eligible, a film must have three producing countries, or two producing and a distrib from a third.

Remaining coin will largely be used for distribution and promotion.

The governments have until April 15 to ratify the program, which the CACI expects to begin operating by mid-1998.

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