Fest Traveler: Guadalajara Film Festival

Whenever a large festival experiences a change in leadership, as was the case last year with the Guadalajara fest, the operative word is “transition.”

This was more the case than ever in 2011, when Ivan Trujillo took over the helm from Jorge Sanchez, and when the festival’s center of gravity and activity shifted from the Hotel Fiestamericana at the city’s bustling Plaza Minerva to the more expansive convention center facilities of Expo Guadalajara.

Along with program director Gerardo Salcedo, Trujillo is working to establish his own stamp on the event, keeping his eyes equally on its festival and market dimensions. “We’re very driven to provide market attendees with facilities, installations and an environment that’s focused and extremely convenient,” says Trujillo, who notes that the main cinema venues are now with exhibitor Cinepolis and are “new and revamped.”

Good news for festgoers as last year’s edition experienced some growing pains, including problems with nearby cinema venues and a screening room built by the festival inside the convention hall that was, diplomatically put, less than optimum. Some fest vets missed the Fiestamericana as an ideal meeting place. Artistically, the festival could boast that it was the launch pad for Mexico’s best received 2011 doc, Tatiana Huezo’s “The Tiniest Place,” but was perceived to be embarrassed when the film was ignored by the official jury, and yet scored the grand prize just a week later at one of the world’s top doc fests, Cinema du Reel.

Trujillo observes that the fest “learned from last year’s challenge of building a cinema inside the Expo. Now, we have more space, allowing for a second cinema, and we’ve had a full year to work out the technical issues, including the sound problems that people complained about.”

The festival’s well-established competition programs for narrative and non-fiction remain in place, with the doc side featuring new work from such leading Mexican docmakers as Juan Carlos Rulfo (“Carriere, 250 Meters”) and Mercedes Moncada (“Magic Words”) and recent fest hits such as Jose Alvarez’s “Canicula,” which preemed in Morelia.

“There were some very hard decisions for our programing team this year,” says Trujillo, with a healthy national film production trend reflected in facts that 13 Mexican narrative competish titles were culled from 45 completed films, while 14 docs were plucked from a pool of 56.

A potentially intriguing sidebar comprises a selection of Mexican melodramas curated by veteran helmer Jorge Fons (“Midaq Alley”), while the fest is promoting a focus on British cinema, topped by a spotlight on Mike Leigh.

“It’s amazing how little industry relations Mexico has with the U.K.,” says Trujillo, “so we want this event to be the start of an opening for new projects, as well as a way to study the U.K.’s system of film support, such as the lottery system, and development, such as the high standards applied for selecting screenplays.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Leading Mexican director Rodrigo Pla’s “The Delay” unspools in the Mexican feature narrative competition.

• Directors Milagros Mumenthaler (“Back to Stay”), Vicente Amorim (“Coracoes sujos”), Isaki Lacuesta (“The Double Steps”), Eryk Rocha (“Transeunte”) and Andres Wood (“Violeta Went to Heaven”) pepper the Ibero-American feature narrative competition.

• Mike Leigh will be honored, and his films are the subject of a nine-pic retrospective. Leigh will also give a master class, as will Michael Nyman, Rodrigo Pla and Gabriel Retes.

• New U.K. films, including Terrence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea,” “The Iron Lady” and Terry Gilliam’s short, “The Wholly Family,” are part of a Brit pic focus.

• Another highlight is Jorge Fon’s curated survey of melodramas, including films by Lars von Trier, David Lean, Walter Salles, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wong Kar Wai, Akira Kurosawa, Frank Capra, Francois Truffaut, Vittorio De Sica, V.I. Pudovkin, Satyajit Ray, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Luchino Visconti, Pedro Almodovar, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Nikita Mikhalkov.

• The sixth edition of the Guadalajara Construction works-in-progress section has expanded its brief to include all of Latin America.

• Other honorees include actor Demian Bichir and director Retes, who is receiving a career achievement award.

• The fest has added another award, the Maguey Prize, to honor the best LGBT film.

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Fest Traveler: Guadalajara Film Festival
Trujillo eyes transition

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