Drama takes best fiction feature at Mexico City gathering

Mexico City– Paula Markovitch’s “The Prize” proved itself aptly named once again Saturday as it took best fiction feature at the 9th Morelia International Film Festival, wrapping today.

The drama set amid Argentina’s Dirty War also won best picture at Guadalajara in March and picked up two Silver Bears at the Berlin film festival for artistic achievement. Handled by Urban Distribution Intl. for international sales, the version screened this week had a notably altered ending and was a strong favorite going into the final day of the festival.

At the closing ceremony, fest veep Cuauhtemoc Cardenas commented on the film’s winning streak, “I hope her next film is named ‘El Oscar’.”

The jury prize secures Markovitch support for digital distribution in Mexico from the distrib wing of Canana Films, the indie shingle founded by thesps Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.

The audience prize went to “Expiration Date”, the first outing for Kenya Marquez – a former director of the Guadalajara International Film Festival. “Date” also picked up a jury special mention as did Hari Sama’s “The Dream of Lu” and Michel Lipkes’ “Malaventura”.

Best documentary went to “Silvestre Pantaleon” by Roberto Olivares Ruiz and Jonathan D. Amith. Doc portrays a small indigenous town’s struggle to find the money to perform a traditional ceremony.

The pic will screen at next year’s Ambulante Documentary Film Festival – a project run by Canana’s sister documentary division – in addition to Mexican digital distribution support from the shingle.

Special mentions went to “Lessons for a War” by Juan Manuel Sepulveda and “The Tiniest Place” by Tatiana Huezo, which also picked up a special prize for best documentary directed by a woman.

Short fiction winner “Mari Pepa” by Samuel Isamu Kishi is eligible for Oscar consideration as are the two animation shorts that shared that category’s prize “Black Doll” by Sofia Carrillo and “Requiem for Eternity” by Alberto Resendiz Gomez.

Emerging from the festival’s production workshop Morelia Lab, several projects picked up co-production prizes. The Imcine Prize, worth about $3,800 plus goodies, was given to the winning Mexican project “Temporada Baja” by Nicolas Celis. From Argentina, Daniel Andres Wernes’ “La Turista” picked up the similarly sized Cinepolis Prize for best LatAm project.

Distrib/shingle Argos Cine agreed to offer about $230,000 in co-production funding to Socorro Mendez’s production “Haz por Venir”, and the lab jury also gave mentions to producers April Shannon (Mexico) for “La Noche de Franco”, “Vacia Casas” from Hatuey Lavielle (Mexico), Alejandro Prieto’s (Colombia) “Esperando a los Barbaros”, “Primate” from Cynthia Gabrenja (Argentina) and “Uncut” produced by Laura Pino (Mexico).

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