The Amazing Catfish Movie Locorno Review

Madrid Mexico showcase underscores diversification in current production as sector matures

CANNES — Jorge Michel Grau’s “Chalan,” Fernando Eimbcke’s “Club Sandwich” and Claudia Sainte-Luce’s “The Amazing Cat Fish” play Madrid’s Muestra de Cine Mexicano (Mexican Film Showcase), an 11-title panorama and distribution platform.

Co-organized by Mexico’s IMCINE Film Institute and Spain’s SGAE authors’ rights collection org, the Muestra is also a showcase for a new generation of filmmakers who have burst onto the scene from early last decade. It also offers a take on many of the trends now galvanizing one of the most vibrant national cinemas in Latin America.

Produced by Film Tank, and a 60-minute movie from the director of modern Mexican milestone “We Are What We Are,” written by producer Edgar San Juan, “Gofer” offers a damning portrait of a corrupt Mexican congressman, via his mistreatment of a much put-upon lackey, in a praised perf by Noe Hernandez.

Sold by Funny Balloons and produced by Christian Valdelievre’s Cine Pantera, “Sandwich” is the third-film from Berlin-prized Eimbcke (“Duck Season,” “Lake Tahoe”).

Winning best director at September’s San Sebastian Festival, the coming-of-age story turns on a still-young mother who takes her 15-year-old son to an off-season holiday resort in Mexico, where he experiences a sexual awakening, beginning to separate from his mother.

A breakout winner at Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte which achieved the unusual feat of chalking up pre-sales on a debut feature by an unknown director, Claudia Sainte-Luce’s Pyramide Intl.-sold “Catfish,” a warm-hearted family portrait, has also taken multiple fest prizes when completed including the Fipresci Discovery award at Toronto, Mexico First at Los Cabos and Best Ibero-American Film at Mar del Plata.

The Muestra’s line-up is “highly interesting, a revelation, showing the breadth and depth of current Mexican filmmaking,” said Imcine prexy Jorge Sanchez.

Chronicling a dysfunctional theater troupe’s staging of Albert Camus’ “Caligula,” Francisco Franco’s “Last Call,” which opens the Muestra, is a broad-ish- comedy

Producer Robert Fiesco’s directorial debut, and a portrait of actress Lilia Ortega and her son, Fernando Garcia, a ‘70s child actor and transvestite assuming his gender identity, “Disrupted” another Madrid title, won Guadalajara’s press, special jury and Maguey LGBT awards, plus San Sebastian’s Sebastian Latino Prize.

A drama, Natalia Beristain’s first feature “I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone” claimed the Jury Prize at 2013’s Morelia Festival. It narrates twenty-something Amada (Mariana Gaja) relationship with her aging grandmother, played by Adriana Roel, a star from Mexico’s Golden Age.

Panorama features another drama and Morelia hit, Hari Sama’s “The Dream of Lu,” about a mother’s step-by-step recovery from tragic loss. David Pablos’ Venice Horizons player “La vida despues” explores themes of fraternity and forgiveness in its tale of two brothers crossing the Sonora desert, searching for their mother.

The Madrid Muestra also offers two movies from Mexico’s highly active documentary production sector: Marc Silver’s Canana-co-produced “Who Is Dayani Crystal?” with Gael Garcia Bernal, an exploration of the multiple dangers of illegal immigration into the U.S. from Central America; and Nuria Ibanez’s “The Naked Room,” whose fixed camera records children talking with off-screen doctors and parents during consultations in the examination room of the psychiatric wing of a Mexican hospital.

None of the films at the Muestra have distribution in Spain, Sanchez said. That reflects in part the toughness of Spain’s market these days.

On the upside, an increasing number of Mexican films snag international sales agents as its industry builds in overseas sales potential. Mexico now boasts five sales agents: Mundial, a joint venture between IM Global and Canana, which sells “Dayani Cristal”; NDM-Mantarraya; Vendo Cine, Latam Distribution and In Films We Trust.

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