Cancun Festival heats up

Latin movie scene takes center stage

Mexico’s seaside resort of Cancun takes centerstage for five days when the inaugural Cancun Intl. Film Festival (CIFF) kicks off Nov. 14. New event joins an increasingly crowded Mexican festival circuit, dominated by grand dame Guadalajara, which celebrated its 22nd edition last March.

The 5-year-old Morelia fest in October and the Mexico City-based Ficco in the early part of the year have grown in prestige, especially the former.

CIFF follows hard on the heels of another new film fest in Cancun, the Riviera Maya Intl., which ran Nov. 5-11. Another seaside resort, Puerto Vallarta, has a film fest celebrating its fourth year in December. Also in the mix is the 3-year-old Monterrey fest, which ran in August. And the province of Oaxaca launched a film event last April.

Cancun’s topper, Miguel Ortega, is unfazed. “A lot of countries have rival film festivals; we aim to complement rather than compete with the others,” he says.

For his fest’s maiden edition, Ortega plans to keep the event lean and focused, with just three main sections and no sidebars. One side event will be Variety’s “Latin American Filmmakers: Up Next,” featuring important emerging talent. Aside from an international film showcase encompassing some 50 titles from more than 30 countries, Cancun will hold competitions for international docs, Latin American feature films and shorts.

Fest opens with “La Misma luna” (Under the Same Moon) by an “Up Next” honoree, Mexican helmer Patricia Riggen, whose debut feature is an immigration-themed heartstring-tugger that received a standing ovation at Sundance, where Fox Searchlight and the Weinstein Co. jointly acquired worldwide distribution rights.

Fest closes with Mike Newell’s “Love in the Time of Cholera,” an adaptation of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. Pic is produced by L.A.-based Stone Village Pictures and stars an international cast including Spain’s Javier Bardem, Italy’s Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Colombia’s Catalina Sandino Moreno and Marcela Mar.

“It’s exactly the kind of film,” says Ortega, “that reflects the festival’s primary objective: to showcase a cross section of Latin American talent and the international film industry.”

What: Cancun Intl. Film Festival

When: Nov. 14- 18

Where: Royal Hotel

Jurors: Alfred Spellman, producer; Noah Cowan, Toronto Intl. Film Festival co-director; Blanca Guerra, actress; Bai Ling, actress; Raffaella de Laurentiis, producer

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