Pics nab jury grand prizes at 25th annual event

GUADALAJARA – The 25th edition of the Guadalajara Film Festival feted Colombian helmer Carlos Gaviria’s “Portraits in a Sea of Lies” (Retratos en un mar de Mentiras) and Nicolas Pereda’s “Perpetuum Mobile” with jury grand prizes in the Ibero-American and Mexican fiction feature categories, respectively, during Friday’s festival’s awards announcement.

Speaking at the ceremony, festival director Jorge Sanchez Sosa also announced he will step down after this year’s festival, bringing with him at least some of his core staff. The topper has long described his reign as a five-year plan and is generally credited with having greatly expanded the industrial side of the festival.

“Portraits” tells the tale of a photographer and his cousin traveling through Colombia to rediscover the lost land of his dead grandfather. Pic’s female lead Paola Baldion picked up Best Actress, sharing it with Alma Blanco in Nicaraguan boxing drama “La Yuma” from Florence Jauguey.

Winning with a pacey portrait of a mover and his mother in Mexico City, Pereda is a Mexican transplant to Toronto – the helmer has incidentally turned Canada into a steady source of funding. Pereda is also known for the 2007 Morelia winner “¿Donde estan sus historias?”, and “Perpetuum” is one of three projects shown this year at the festival from the very busy director.

With 12 pics in competition in the Ibero-American section, which includes selections from across Latin America as well as Spain and Portugal, compared to the eight pics in the Mexican feature competish, the results for the Ibero-American prizes were fairly varied.

Bolivian class drama “Southern Zone” (Zona Sur) picked up best director for Juan Carlos Baldivia, best script and a best actor prize to Pascual Loayza, which he shared with Gustavo Sanchez Parra who starred in the Spanish-Colombian-Mexican co-production “Rabia”.

“Rabia’s” Sebastian Cordero of Ecuador also picked up Best Director for the portrait of violence, nabbing Best Cinematography. His pic will be one of two films from the section presented for the Golden Globes along with “Portraits.”

The best first or second work for the category went to “La Yuma” and Brazil-France teamup “The Famous and the Dead” (Os famosos e os duendes de la muerte), which also won the audience prize as well as Best Cinematography in the section.

Describing the debate over the Mexican fiction features as both “loving and heated”, “Weeds” star Damien Bachir called out the winners, which beyond “Perpetuum’s” big win saw a near-sweep by Mariano Navarro’s “The Good Herbs” (Las Hierbas Buenas).

In addition to winning the audience prize, Navarro’s intimate tale of a woman treating her herbalist mother for Alzheimer’s picked up Best Script, Best Actress for lead Ursula Pruneda, the Mezcal young jury prize for Best Film, Best Cinematography and will be presented in Hollywood for the Golden Globes along with “Perpetuum”.

“Crime of Father Amaro” helmer Carlos Carrera managed to pick up the Best Director prize in his section for his depiction of a family mired in violence and poverty in “From Childhood” (De la infancia), which also took the Mexican press award and a Best Actor prize for lead Damian Alcazar. He shared the award with Basque thesp Unax Ugalde for his work in Ruben Imaz’s “Cephalopod” (Cefalopodo).

The journey of a young man in mourning through Mexico was the only entry for hip indie shingle Canana, founded by thesps Diego Luna and Gael Garcia-Bernal and topped by Pablo Cruz. It also picked up Best First or Second Film for Imaz.

Top docs prizes this year went to films focused on broken penal and justice systems.

In the Ibero-American section, the top honor went to Luciana Burlamaqui’s “On the Edge of Light and Shadow” (Entre a luz e a sombra), and wrongful imprisonment drama “Presumed Guilty” (Presunto Culpable) took more top honors in the Mexican section after having won in Morelia last year and appearing at several fests since.

Other notable docs included: Maya Da Rin’s “Lands” (Terras), an exploration of the Colombian, Peruvian and Brazilian triple border, which took the Ibero section’s Cameras on Diversity Award; Renate Costa’s highly personal look at Paraguay’s violent, anti-gay regime in the 80s “108” (Cuchillo de Palo), which one an honorable mention from the Ibero jury and a prize from Latin American film schools dubbed the Feisal Prize in the Ibero section along with Alex Alberet’s “White Memory” (La revuelta de las batas blancas) in the Mexican section.

Luciano Larobina’s musical fusion foray “Havanyork” and Viviana Garcia Besne’s look at her own family’s legacy on Mexican Cinema “Lost in Time” (Perdido) also won honorable mentions in the Mexican doc section.

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