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Hugo Villa Appointed Director of Los Cabos Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

A former producer, Imcine exec and film commissioner, Villa takes up the reins of one of the fastest-growing film festivals in Latin America

Hugo Villa, a well-known and respected producer, line-producer and film commissioner, has been appointed director of Mexico’s Los Cabos Intl. Film Festival, one of Latin America’s youngest and fastest-growing festivals.

Also well known from his eight years he spent at Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) over 2005 to 2013, where he created the Mexican Film Commission,  Villa will take up his position on May 15, and attend the Cannes Festival with Alejandra Paulin, who remains Los Cabos general co-ordinator. Maru Garzon also continues as programming director. Villa replaces Alonso Aguilar Castillo, who served as Los Cabos director from its 2013 edition.

“We’re pleased and enthusiastic about Hugo Villa’s taking the reins of the Festival. We regard him as the ideal person, in collaboration with his team which continues at the festival, to favor the continuation of the film event which is now reenforced and has consolidated in the past five years as one of the relevant in our country,” festival president Eduardo Sánchez-Navarro Redo and Alfonso Pasquel Bárcenas, president of Los Cabos Art and Culture, said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The 6th Los Cabos Festiva will run Nov. 8-12. Joining Los Cabos from a stint since 2015 as Mexico City Film Commissioner, Villa looks set to maintain its key focus on a Mexico-North America movie axis which has proved a strategic masterstroke.

Launching in 2012, and supported by key figures on the Hollywood and Mexican film scene such as CAA’s Micah Green and Roeg Sutherland and Mexico-L.A.-based Alex Garcia, Los Cabos has grown dramatically as both Hollywood and Canadian interest in Mexico has escalated – as a source of talent, production partners and indeed productions.

Adding a project co-production forum, TV drama strand, high-end Latin American producer pitching session and a formal market, Los Cabos has consolidated as a select post-AFM festival attended by an international business elite.

Delegates at last year’s 5th Los Cabos Festival took in Green and Sutherland, UTA’s Bec Smith, Paradigm’s Nick LoPiccolo, IM Global’s Stuart Ford and Wild Bunch-Insiders’ Vincent Maraval, Bloom’s Alex Walton, Gaumont’s Cecile Gaget and Voltage’s Nicolas Chartier. Garcia, Gaston Pavolvich, Pablo Cruz and Jaime Romandia figured among Mexican producers.

The Mexico-U.S.-Canada axis will remain Los Cabos’ “priority relationship, and not just because of economics,” Villa told Variety. He went on: “The three share a large amount of creative talent and can nourish one another regarding what is most essential: Basic creativity to capture the imagination of the audience.”

Villa added that Los Cabos would maintain its pitching sessions and business meetings. Energized by competition between four VOD platforms, Netflix, Amazon, Televisa’s Blim and America Movil’s ClaroVideo, Mexico has rapidly become Latin America’s foremost hub for digital platform original series.

Villa said he is looking to “reenforce business meetings focusing a bit more on Over the Top series development.” In another focus, he would like Los Cabos “to recognize the technological advances of Virtual Reality and 360-degree technologies.”

In a departure, Villa aims to “make the festival more available to the local people in Los Cabos” by, for example, arranging screenings during the rest of the year. “We would like the people of Los Cabos to become film buffs,” he said.

Villa cut his career teeth serving as a camera assistant, created production house Hartos Indios in the late ‘90s working as a producer, camera operator and cinematographer and moved into production services on Hollywood studio shoots such as “Man on Fire,” “Troy” and “The Legend of Zorro.”

“Hugo Villa has been a cornerstone in the transformation of IMCINE and the Mexican film industry,” said producer Jaime Romandia.

“I’m sure that with his vision, leadership and deep knowledge of both creating films and the film industry, Hugo’s joining Los Cabos Intl. Film Festival will generate significant results, consolidating the festival as one of the most important in the Americas.”

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