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Mexico film fest off to ‘Flying’ start

Fest to unspool 28 pics, 25 shorts from 40 countries

MEXICO CITY– The second Mexico City Contemporary Film Festival kicks off Wednesday with the local bow of “The House of Flying Daggers,” before moving on to an expanded slate running through Feb. 27.

Fest, known as Ficco, drew 41,000 spectators in its inaugural edition, beating expectations of less than a third of that. Finding itself suddenly among the most important events in Mexico, fest is ramping up and adding documentaries to its official competition.

Among the 19 features and 18 docs competing for fest’s La Pieza (the Piece) prize are Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” and regionally acclaimed films including Chilean Andres Wood’s “Machuca.”

Mexico has three entries in competition. Ivan Avila’s “Adan y Eva” (Adam and Eve) will compete for the fiction prize, while “Tropico de Cancer” (Tropic of Cancer), by Eugenio Polgovsky, and “Toro negro,” by Pedro Gonzalez Rubio and Carlos Armella, are in the documentary section.

Juries for the two competitions include Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (“Amores perros”), producer Michael Fitzgerald (“The Pledge”) and helmer Sally Potter (“The Tango Lesson”). Winners receive a sculpture by artist Thomas Glassford. In addition, there will be $5,000 audience favorite prizes for documentary and feature categories.

In all, fest will unspool 28 features and 25 shorts from more than 40 countries.

Other events include retrospectives of cinema verite king John Cassavetes, documentarian Emile de Antonio and Sarajevo-born helmer Emir Kusturica, whose band, the No Smoking Orchestra, will perform at Ficco’s closing party.

Nearly every film is making its first, and perhaps only, appearance in Mexico, said director Paula Astorga. “Some 80% of the films don’t have distribution here,” he added.

Fest is organized by exhib Cinemex.

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