Festival bolsters its international cachet with screenings of Mexican and Latin American A-list festival winners
MORELIA – The 13th Morelia Int’l Film Festival closed aptly on Oct. 31, Halloween and on the eve of Mexico’s most important calendar event, the Day of the Dead. While the city of Morelia decked out with flowers and altars, its lauded film festival honored a host of winners led by Matias Meyer whose coming-of-age drama “Yo” won best Mexican feature and a best actor for its lead Raul Silva. Meyer, now based in Montreal, took home a cash prize of $12,000 (200,000 pesos) and Estudios Churubusco services of up to $54,331 (900,000 pesos). Julio Hernandez Cordon’s popular gay drama “I Promise You Anarchy” won a Guerrero Press Award and a special mention.
Trisha Ziff’s docu about photojournalist Enrique Metinides “The Man Who Saw Too Much” snagged a Guerrero Press Award for Best Mexican Feature and an Ambulante Special Award, along with Everardo Gonzalez Reyes’ “El Paso.” Both docs will form part of the 11th Ambulante Docu Tour 2016.
The festival awarded a sum total of $104,436 (1.73 million pesos). “We want to give the same importance to all the categories, where everyone wins the same cash prize, from the shorts filmmaker, to the documentarian to the fiction feature filmmaker and Impulso work-in-progress winners,” said festival director Daniela Michel, adding: “Everyone wins the same amount, around $12,000 (200,000 pesos).”
Betzabe Garcia won the coveted cash prize as part of her Best Mexican Docu Feature award for her Mexican village survival drama “Kings of Nowhere” (“Los Reyes del Pueblo Que No Existe”), along with a post-production package of image and sound donated by New Art.
“Documentaries, especially features, have been especially strong this year,” said Morelia docu programmer Daniela Alatorre.
“I would also say that they are strong and diverse not only by the themes covered, but also by their visual and narrative approaches,“ she said, noting: “I saw a lot of people, guests and doc filmmakers choosing to see only docs along the week.”
“Morelia has always been a launchpad for young talent with their shorts,” said Michel, who also observed a strong female presence across the board. Hector Alexis Estrada’s “Donde Nunca Moriras” won the Best Online Mexican Short award, which includes a six-month distribution deal and $3,018 (50,000 pesos).
Other shorts that won in their respective categories included docu short “El Buzo” by Esteban Arrangoiz, a potrait of a diver working Mexico City’s sewage system, fiction short “Bosnian Dream” by Sergio Flores Thorija, who spoke of adapting the film for his debut feature in his acceptance speech, and animation short “Rebote” by Nuria Menchaca. Because the festival is recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, these winners are eligible to compete for an Oscar.
Jack Zagha Kababie’s fiction feature “Almacenados” won the Audience Award while Elisa Miller’s “El Placer es Mio” won the Best First or Second Mexican Feature prize.
Impulso Morelia, the festival’s newly introduced work-in-progress showcase gave out two awards, a $12,000 cash prize to Carlos Enderle’s “Minezota” and a national distribution and P&A guarantee from the festival’s main benefactor, Cinepolis, to Maya Goded’s “Plaza de la Soledad,” a tender docu about women plying the oldest profession in Mexico City’s ancient La Merced commercial district.
This year’s edition was marked by the critical mass of Mexican and Latin American pics that have triumphed at A-list film festivals this year, led by Michel Franco’s Cannes Best Screenplay awardee “Chronic,” Gabriel Ripstein’s Berlin Best First Feature winner, “600 Miles,” Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas’ Venice Golden Lion winner “Desde Alla” and Colombian Cesar Acevedo’s Cannes Camera d’Or winner “La Tierra y La Sombra.”
For the first time this year, Morelia introduced the Sundance Institute’s Artist Services workshop and launched the Locarno Industry Academy, part of an export push by Switzerland’s A-list Locarno Festival. Cinepolis chief Alejandro Ramirez is a board member of the Sundance Institute.
“We have filmmakers who have made Morelia their annual appointment,” said Michel. “Barbet Schroeder has been here six, seven times; Cannes’ Thierry Fremaux has been here three times,” she noted. Quentin Tarantino, who has been to Morelia three times, even has a theatre dedicated to him.
“It’s also become a meeting point for all our Mexican filmmakers who live abroad and across Mexico; to come and share their experiences. They come anyway even if they don’t even have a film,” said Michel. This year, Oscar winning Alfonso Cuaron flew in from London to support his son Jonas whose border drama “Desierto” made its Mexican debut at Morelia.
“I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting place to conclude “Me and Earl’s” festival tour,” said Texan-born helmer Alfonso Gomez-Rejon whose drama “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” snagged the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and the Audience Award for U.S. Drama at Sundance. “Morelia is a magical place. Daniela [Michel] has curated a festival that’s intimate and eclectic; where you can have a drink with Barber Schroeder and grill Michael Fitzgerald about John Huston, be humbled by brilliant filmmaking… while being surrounded by natural beauty.”
For the complete list of winners, please go to: www.moreliafilmfest.com