Morelia: Thierry Fremaux on Guillermo del Toro as ‘A Gift’

Fremaux, Ramirez, Michel, Cardenas Open Mexico’s 13th Morelia Festival

MORELIA – Guillermo del Toro, one of the towering presences of the modern Mexican cinema, finally couldn’t make the Mexican premiere of “Crimson Peak,” which opened the 13th Morelia Festival.

Luckily, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux was on hand to deliver a heartfelt tribute to what Del Toro has meant for the history of cinema and Cannes in particular.

One key trend in international cinema this century has been the acceptance of genre cinema as both festival and mainstream audience fare. In this acceptance, Del Toro has played his part.

“I was very fortunate to have Guillermo’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ in competition at Cannes. For me, it was very important to have not only a very good film but a genre movie. It was a way of allowing genre cinema into Cannes competition where it was very difficult to have cinema like this.”

Fremaux also homed in on the big set-base of “Crimson Peak” his membership of this year’s Cannes jury, and Del Toro’s generosity of spirit, seen in his readiness to godfather or produce projects from across the Spanish-speaking world: Spaniard Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Orphanage,” Spain-based Argentine Andy Muschietti’s “Mama,” “The Thin Yellow Line,” from Mexico’s Celso Garcia.

“Like other genre directors Guillermo del Toro is great in mise-en-scène [composition, design, sets, actors’ movements] and a poet of monstrosity, a son of the 1920s, 1930s, of Murnau, of a very important tradition in cinema.”

He added: “Guillermo’s one of the most important directors on the planet, a director who’s also a film buff. Joel and Ethan Coen were really happy to have Guillermo on the Cannes jury. He was a gift, because of his happiness of spirit and knowledge of cinema. Each time he saw a film, he talked about what was best in the film.”

Fremaux spoke flanked by Morelia Fest president Alejandro Ramirez, director Daniela Michel and third co-founder Cuaultemoc Cardenas, Morelia Festival VP, the three guiding spirits of a event which, starting off a Mexican short film fest in 2003 has, remarkably, become one of the most important festivals not just in Mexico but Latin America.

2015’s Morelia will feature the Mexican premieres of Michel Franco’s Cannes best screenplay winner “Chronic,” David Pablos’ Un Certain Regard player “The Chosen Ones,” Lorenzo Vigas’ debut “Far Away,” which nabbed a Venice Golden Lion, plus special dscreenings of Gabriel Ripstein’s Berlin Best First Feature winner “600 Miles” and Arturo Ripstein’s “” and, playing Morelia competition Oct. 24, Rodrigo Pla’s Venice Horizon’s opener “A Monster of a Thousand Heads” – practically the cream of Mexican movies which have made a splash at big festivals this year.

Part of that can be put down to the backing of Ramirez, also president of Cinepolis, the biggest non-U.S. exhibitor in the world with 3,385 screens spread over Mexico, the U.S., Central America, Brazil, the Andes, India and now Spain.

With a 65% domestic market share in Mexico, Cinepolis is a priceless platform for launching any Mexican or international movie in the country. Given special

Another reason, Promoting Mexican shorts on TV then at Morelia, founded in 2003, then young Mexican feature debuts, Michel has built enormous good will with a generation of filmmakers now moving to the front of Mexico’s industry.

One example: David Pablos, whose Canana-produced “The Chosen Ones” played Cannes Un Certain Regard, and now has its Mexican premiere at Morelia, won best short at Morelia in 2006.

She has also turned Morelia into the festival with the closest linked with Cannes of any in Latin America. Morelia and Cannes’ Critics’ Week exchange a shorts showcase. Multiple highlights in Morelia’s exquisitedly curated sections bowed at Cannes. Morelia guests are often inextricably linked to the French uber-festival: Quentin Tarantino, for example, or this year’s Laurent Cantet and Jerry Schatzberg, both Palme d’Or winners.

A strong Morelia supporter, Fremaux himself will present

The new Lumière brothers’ collection of 98 restored shorts, made over 1895 to 1905.

“Cannes is the biggest festival but Morelia is one of the most important festivals in the world,” said Fremaux. “The programming is extraordinary, not just because of the films of the Lumière brothers, but everything which moves in the world of cinema is here.”

Morelia remains first and foremost, as Michel insisted to Variety Friday, a platform for young Mexican talent, which is hardly irrelevant internationally as Hollywood looks ever more to Mexico for talent to break into the Latino market or

A still boutique fest – its international guest list runs to just 30 figures, plus eight guests of honor – Morelia has always had a large industry presence given the industry importance of its select guests from Tarantino to Fremaux downwards. 2015 may, however, mark an industry milestone with the launch of a works-in-progress section and new Locarno Industry Academy in Morelia, plus a Sundance workshop. These are moves towards giving Morelia a full-blown industry heft.

2015 may also mark another milestone too are most probably on paper Morelia’s fiction feature competition frontrunners .

Well-received at Venice – Start off the festival as favorites in the fiction And a good buzz on Impulso projects , though remarkably

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