Guadalajara: Premio Maguey Toasts the Global Gay Evolution

Pics from India to Chile Make up International Competition

GUADALAJARA – Celebrating its fifth year at the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival (FICG), the Premio Maguey has been a standard bearer of Guadalajara’s vibrant LGBT community.

This year’s theme is “evolution,” which in the words of Guadalajara Int’l Film Fest Board of Trustees president Raul Padilla, describes the Premio Maguey as “a space where sexual diversity is celebrated, and as a response to criticism towards Guadalajara as a homophobic, chauvinistic and hypocritical city.”

“We’ve also borne witness to the evolution in films about sexual diversity, where straight actors no longer balk at playing gay and directors don’t hesitate to deal with such themes,” said Cortes, citing Indian entry “Loev” whose director Sudhanshu Saria relates how he didn’t tell his crew what the film was about to avoid any conflict in a country where homosexuality is taboo. Its star, Indian heartthrob Shiv Pandit, may have risked his career in accepting this role.

It is ironic that despite a deeply conservative and religious society, the city has become a cultural hub and a gay Mecca, where clubs, resource centers, support groups and various publications catering to LGBT locals and travelers abound. Just as it has hosted FICG for the past 31 years and an equally important book fair and other major cultural events, the city has hosted a Gay Pride Parade attended by thousands every June.

Mexico has followed the worldwide trend to legalize gay marriage but some states, including the state of Jalisco of which Guadalajara is the capital, refused to acknowledge it. However, a Supreme Court ruling in mid-June stated that laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman were unconstitutional, and that the other states should bring their laws into line.

For the first time, this year’s edition has 14 pics in competition that represent every letter in the acronym LGBTTTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Transvestite, Transsexual and Intersexual), said Premio Maguey director Pavel Cortes.

Among the pics in competition for Premio Maguey Best Feature and an Honorable Mention, Brazilian entry “Boi Neon” (“Neon Bull”) by Gabriel Mascaro took home the best film prize in the international competitive section of the 56th Cartagena Int’l Film Fest prize on March 7. Pic tracks a modern-day cowboy with dreams of becoming a fashion designer and builds a fresco of society, its modes and rampant sexuality, in a rapidly modernizing Brazilian North-East.

Italy’s “Arianna” by Carlo Lavagna, the only pic in the lineup about an intersexual – i.e. an hermaphrodite – stars newcomer Ondina Quadri who gives a searing performance as a teen in search of her sexual identity.

Chile’s “Nunca Vas a Estar Solo,” which had its world premiere at Berlinale’s Panorama sidebar where it won the Teddy Jury Award, is by pop singer Alex Anwandter, who was inspired by the brutal murder of an openly gay Chilean by neo-Nazis to make his first feature.

Also vying for the Premio Maguey is Ireland’s entry to the Foreign Oscar race this year, “Viva” by Paddy Breathnach, which was shot in Cuba.

Documentaries are also proving to be strong contenders for the prize. Among the standouts: “Viviana Rocco Yo Trans” by Mexico’s Daniel Reyes, which gives an intimate look at transsexual artist, model, and activist Viviana Rocco who passed away in February, and Mexico’s Dalia Reyes’ exploration of the world of public saunas in docu “Baño de Vida.” British docu “Chemsex” by William Fairman, a director at VICE, delves on the ties between sex and drugs.

The Premio Maguey awards will be given out on March 10.

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