'Mariachi,' 'Back to Stay' among top at Mexican fest

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Tom Gustafson’s “Mariachi Gringo” took the top Mexican feature prize for the 27th edition of the Guadalajara International Film Festival, a surprising choice from the jury, with strong competition from Rodrigo Pla’s “The Delay” and first-time helmer Gabriel Marino’s “A Secret World” (Un mundo secreto).

“Gringo” stars former X-Man thesp Shawn Ashmore as an American on a quest to become a performer in the heartland of mariachi music – Guadalajara. The pic, which has no U.S. or Mexican distribution or sales agent, also garnered a top female acting prize for Martha Higareda.

Best director for the Mexican competish went to Everardo Gout for his highly stylized narco drama “Days of Grace” (Dias de Gracia), which also picked up a special mention for original music and the press prize. “Days” first bowed at Cannes in the 2011 official selection.

Taking the overall public prize and the section’s top actor honor for topper Kuno Becker, was Kai Perlange’s kidnapping drama “Interior Space” (Espacio Interior), a generally accomplished project with a respectable performance from Becker (From Prada to Nada), capped by a nail-biter of a climax.

Mexico’s best documentary prize went to “Drought” (Cuates de Australia) from Everardo Gonzalez (The Open Sky). Coming off a win for doc in Cartagena, pic centers on the people of the small, titular village in Mexico’s north and the drought, which is threatening to wipe it from existence. Docu overcame competition from “Carriere, 250 meters”, co-directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo (In the Hole) and Natalia Gil, which boasted most of the buzz in the category going into the festival and took home a special mention.

Best first work in the Mex category went to Sebastian del Amo’s “The Fantastic World of Juan Orol”, a visually playful biopic on Mexico’s Ed Wood.

On the Iberoamerican side, the Argentina-Swiss co-production “Back to Stay” (Abrir Puertas y Ventanas), a meditation on sisterhood in the wake of a grandmother’s death from first-timer Milagros Mumenthaler, took the top fiction prize in the section. Germany’s The Match Factory is handling sales for “Stay”, which took the Golden Leopard in Locarno last August.

Victor Kossakovsky globetrotting, visual essay on antipodes, opposing points on the globe, took the prize for best Iberoamerican documentary Saturday. “Long Live The Antipodes!” (¡Viven las antipodas!) is a co-production Argentina, Germany, Chile and Holland.

Germany’s Deckart Distribution is handling sales for both “Antipodes” and Mex docu winner “Drought”.

Guadalajara’s FIPRESCI went to Sundance winner “Violeta Went To Heaven” directed by Chile’s Andres Wood. The musically driven biopic maintained fairly solid buzz all week, as did category best first work winner “Passerby” (Transeunte) from Eryk Rocha. At least on jury membere mentioned that Rocha’s pic came close to winning, backed by a top-notch visual and sound production.

Winning Guadalajara’s inaugural edition of the GLBTTI Maguey Prize, the fest’s answer to the Teddy, was “Mia” by Argentina’s Javier van de Couter. Positive comments for “Mia” centered on pic’s central relationship between the transgendered vagabond “Ale” and young “Julie”, who is recently left motherless with the suicide of the titular character.

There were a couple of what can only be called snubs this year.

Rodrigo Pla’s “The Delay” (La Demora) entered the Mexican feature competish in Guadalajara as a heavy favorite with two second-tier awards from Berlin in tow, and throughout the festival, it still looked hard to beat, as buzz singled the pic out as a clear favorite.

If there was any apparent reason for Pla to worry, it seemed to be Gabriel Mariño’s “A Secret World” (Un mundo secreto), which also attended Berlin at the film market. “World” found a warm reception at the preem screening Tuesday, but in the end, its only recognition was the Mezcal Prize, given by the students of the hosting University of Guadalajara – more than Pla or “The Delay” won.

“The Delay” has plenty to look forward to ahead. It will soon play at the Buenos Aries film festival and close Mar de Plata, and according to producer Christian Valdelievre, “Delay” has so much fest play ahead the filmmakers are planning to make a second copy.

Among the Mexican documentaries competing, Alejandro Solar’s portrait of a mentally disabled, homeless and nearly forgotten victim of Mexico’s political dirty war in the late 60s and early 70s, titled “The Convict Patient” (El paciente interno), managed a special mention. All week, programmers had been saying very nice things about day-in-the life jungle docu “Canicula” from “Flores en el desierto” helmer Jose Alvarez, but in the end, the pic came up empty handed.

The big winners:

Best Mexican Fiction:

“Mariachi Gringo” d. Tom Gustafson

Best Iberoamerican Fiction:

“Back to Stay” (Abrir Puertas y Ventanas) d. Milagros Mumenthaler (Argentina)

Best Mexican Documentary:

“Cuates de Australia” d. Everardo Gonzalez

Best Iberoamerican Documentary:

“Long Live The Antipodes” d. Victor Kossakovsky (Argentina, Germany, Chile, Holland)

Mex Public Prize – “Interior Space” d. Kai Parlange

FIPRESCI – “Violeta Went To Heaven” d. Andres Wood (Chile)

Maguey GLBTTI Prize – “Mia” d. Javier van de Couter (Argentina)

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