Mexico: Up Next! Karina Garcia

Garcia’s feature doc debut “Juanicas” competes at Mexico’s Morelia

Garcia’s powerful feature doc debut, “Juanicas,” is not only a portrait of her dysfunctional Mexican immigrant family, but a penetrating look at the mystery of mental illness. Shot over 10 years, Garcia, who is based in Montreal, started working on her docu when her mother was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 2004. Filming began in earnest when Garcia’s brother, the titular Juanicas who suffered from the same disorder, returned to Montreal after living in their native Mexico.

Making this documentary was “a personal necessity,” says Garcia who is married to film composer Olivier Alary who provided the music and even shot some of the scenes. “Filming my mother and brother helped me to process what happened in my childhood and to make sense of my relationship to them,” she said. “It was a healing, cathartic process.” Co-producer EyeSteelFilm boarded the docu in the eighth year.

Its impact on auds is such that people have come to her in tears, relating similar experiences in their lives. “After hearing their stories, you realize you’re not alone,” she muses.

While it examines mental illness, docu also deals with the issues of parental alienation, abandonment and the immigrant experience.

“Juanicas” has won a string of awards since it debuted in the Montreal Documentary Film Fest (RIDM) in 2014 where it won two special jury mentions. While still at a rough-cut stage, “Juanicas” won the Doculab 1.0, a competitive rough-cut lab of the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Prior to “Juanicas,” Garcia made two shorts, “The Great Thinkers” (2009) and “Disown, Delete” (2007), which also garnered awards, and have been broadcast as well as screened in numerous films festivals and institutions.

Garcia taught herself the art of filmmaking but her studies in Philosophy and English literature at Montreal’s McGill University, as well as her graduate studies in Communications at Concordia University, Montreal have informed her body of work.

While she’s now working on a few ideas for her next docu, she would like to explore the fiction format next. “My [5-month old] baby is now my fulltime occupation but my family is a theme I will continue to explore for many years.”

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