Mexico’s next gen on view at fest

Competish focuses on local docus, shorts

MORELIA, Mexico — The Morelia Film Fest, now in its fourth year, continues to consolidate its position as a discovery platform for Mexico’s next generation of filmmakers.

Competish focuses on Mexican docus and shorts and fest director Daniela Michel aims to keep the fest a venue for Mexico’s new talent rather than trying to compete with Mexico’s biggest fest in Guadalajara, which remains the top showcase for Mexican features and hosts the country’s only market.

“There is an incredible amount of energy down here,” said Joseph Beyer, an associate programmer at Sundance who sat on the docu jury.

“Mexico remains totally mysterious for most Americans, but no other country is going to be more important to the U.S. than Mexico in the future.”

Mexican docus have been gaining increasing recognition, hitting a high earlier this year at Sundance with jury winner “In the Pit” and audience fave “De Nadie.”

Morelia is aiming to become a feeder for shorts to the Oscars — it wont be able to be considered until its fifth year. It tapped Jon Bloom, the Academy’s chair for shorts, for its shorts jury this year.

“They do a wonderful job of discovering some excellent work, largely student, from aspiring Mexican filmmakers,” Bloom said.

While not hosting a feature competition, Morelia is also the second most important venue for the premiere of new Mexican features behind Guadalajara.

Among the new features, the biggest buzz surrounded supernatural thriller “Km 31,” directed by Rigoberto Castaneda.

Also bowing was Daniel Gruener’s dark comedy “Morirse en Domingo” (Never on a Sunday), tyro helmer Teresa Suarez’s female drama “Asi del Precipicio,” Juan Mora’s indigenous language “Erendira” and Arturo Ripstein’s lastest “El Carnaval de Sodoma.”

Audiences at the fest are enthusiastic and large crowds turned out for the Mexican premieres as well as international screening like “Shortbus.” Guillermo del Toro received a rock star’s welcome by hordes of fans for the Mexican premiere of “Pan’s Labrynth.”

This year fest honored British director Mike Hodges and special invites included French scribe Jean-Claude Carriere and New York auteur Abel Ferrara.

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