Guadalajara Film Festival Celebrates Booming Latin Cinema

Just after Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “Birdman” won big at the Oscars, Mexico’s 30th Guadalajara Festival shows why — and why Mexican talent lures Hollywood.

Adding to the Oscar glory, last month, Latin America swept most top awards at the Berlin festival (“The Club,” “Ixcanul,” above, “600 Miles,” “The Second Mother,” “Nasty Baby”).

At Guadalajara, 22 Mexican movies vie for the Mezcal Prize, while the fest also boasts a 15-title Ibero-American feature competition and the Co-production Meeting with 28 projects.

The festival runs March 6-15 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (ficg.mx).

In 2014, a group of markedly different Mexican movies performed robustly at Mexico’s box office: “Perfect Dictatorship,” a political lampoon, hit $13 million; romantic comedy “Marry Who You Can” grossed $11.2 million; and biopic “Cantinflas,” which world premiered at 2014’s Guadalajara, hit $8.5 million and repped Mexico in the foreign-language Oscar race.

Guadalajara’s 2015 Mezcal competition is equally eclectic and plural, reflecting Mexican cinema’s good moment, says festival director Ivan Trujillo.

Some of the highest-profile local players will be launching pics at the fest, including “Instructions Not Included” producer Monica Lozano, who world preems “El Jeremias,” a child genius comedy with social undertones; and Carlos Reygadas’ producer Mantarraya unveils animated feature “The Incredible Story of the Stone Boy,” a play for a more mainstream family audience.

There’s also a 10-part docu about Latin America’s high school dropouts, “El aula vacia,” from Gael Garcia Bernal’s Canana Films, which will screen alongside fare from Argentina’s Lucrecia Martel, Mexico’s Nicolas Pereda, Uruguay’s Pablo Stoll and Peru’s Diego and Daniel Vega.

“Mexican filmmaking is increasingly international, impacting in and impacted by a global world,” says Trujillo.

That could be said for all Latin America. Some 50% of the Co-production Meeting projects, drawn from all over the region, are already international co-productions, or have directors who have studied or live abroad, plan to shoot overseas or in a foreign language. Mezcal entries include Mexican directors working with the U.K. (Laura Plancarte’s “Tierra caliente”), Ireland (Kevin de la Isla’s drug underworld thriller “The Hit Producer”) and Australia (“Dog’s Breakfast,” from Rich Valverde).

Now more than ever, Latin Americans are able to make films about social issues that reach out to wider audiences. At Guadalajara, Gabriel Ripstein’s “600 Miles,” a first feature winner at the recent Berlinale, highlights U.S. arms trading with Mexico. But its essential story, Ripstein says, turns on two characters in a desperate situation: a seasoned ATF agent, played by Tim Roth, and his short-fused Mexican abductor.

Guadalajara’s Italy tribute forms part of a broader 18-month pan-regional push called “2015 — Year of Italy in Latin America,” with filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci picking up Guadalajara’s Intl. Mayahuel Award. There’s also a 34-pic Italian cinema panorama. Also on the Italo agenda: a retrospective of animator Bruno Bozzetto and a major Guadalajara market attendance by producers and sales agents of Italian films. A Bilateral Italy-Mexico Forum will analyze new co-production and collaboration opportunities.

“We’d like the tribute to generate business opportunities and co-productions,” Trujillo says.

Festival highlights include a green film forum, where filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci and biologist Alfredo Cuaron will reflect on film and climate change. The Guadalajara fest will reduce print publications 50%, says fest director Trujillo.

Also on the agenda: the 10th Guadalajara Digital Space, which discusses new digital proposals, strategies and formats. “When Guadalajara launched in 1986, Mexican cinema was suffering its biggest crisis in history, with only 12 films produced,” Trujillo recalls. Guadalajara has been Mexico’s most important discussion forum for industry policy.

Other highlights include Guillermo del Toro, who will address Guadalajara Talent Campus students; Martin Hernandez, Oscar-nominated for “Birdman’s” sound editing, who will conduct a workshop; Guadalajara’s queer cinema Maguey Prize celebrates its third edition this year; publishers are set to pitch producers at El Principio del Film; and Spain’s San Sebastian fest showcases six movies from new European talent, including Kristina Grozeva’s “The Lesson” and Hermes Paralluelo’s “Not All Is Vigil.”

 

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