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Ambulante gives docus a home

Fest Traveler: Morelia Festival 2012

In 2005, Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal dined with Morelia’s Daniela Michel and Alejandro Ramirez, prexy of Cinepolis, Mexico’s largest exhib, to talk about bringing documentaries to commercial screens across Mexico.

The moment gave birth to the Ambulante Documentary Film Festival, which has grown with Morelia, swelling Mexican docu production.

A guerrilla-style fest founded by Luna, Garcia Bernal and Canana partner Pablo Cruz, Ambulante has built attendance to nearly 100,000 in 33 cities in 15 countries, from Kosovo to Argentina, linking to doc fests like Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX.

“Internet is great to reach wider audiences. But especially in Latin America, it’s very important that directors meet their public,” says exec director Elena Fortes.

Ambulante seeks out alternative venues, often deep in more rural Mexico, providing citizens with tools to run their edition as semi-independent cells, encouraging a uniquely local feel. It remains tight with Morelia, sharing staff and a similar mission, per Fortes.

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Fest provides two docu post-production grants per year.

That can matter: Justice-system-gone-wrong docu “Presumed Guilty” won a 2007 Gucci-Ambulante Grant, topped Morelia and stirred Mexico, grossing $6.3 million in 2011.

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Morelia carves niche as career launching pad

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