You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Baja Fest Amps Up Industry Heft (EXCLUSIVE)

Garzon, Paulin join Aguilar at fest helm

Founded last year to forge stronger links between Mexico and Hollywood, and attended by Edward Norton, Matt Dillon, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, the Baja Film Festival has seen an extensive makeover in top execs, industry events and geographic scope.

Alonso Aguilar, previously Baja head of development, was appointed fest’s new director late February. Alonso has tapped two of Mexico’s most experienced international film execs, former Guadalajara market head Alejandra Paulin and Maru Garzon, ex-deputy director of international projects at Mexico’s Imcine film board, as general co-ordinator and head of programming respectively.

Paulin worked on Baja’s inaugural event, where Jorge Sanchez, now head of  Imcine, served as co-artistic director. The second Baja fest runs Nov. 13-16 at the Los Cabos Convention Center.

Fest will launch a call for applications June 1 for subsidies from a new Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, named after the great Mexican cinematographer. These comprise seven development grants for Mexican features, worth $5,000 each, and two Labodigital Prize post-production awards, valued at $51,620 each. The winners will be announced at Baja’s opening ceremony.

Baja will also create a Work in Progress Mexico for movies in production, plus a Mexico First sidebar of some nine titles focusing on first or second films.

Fest’s 15-title competition will take in films from Mexico and the U.S. and is adding Canada this year. Fiction features and documentaries will vie for a $15,000 cash prize. U.S. and Mexican movies played in different sections last year.

“Last year’s festival was pretty successful in terms of programming and events but the U.S. and Mexican sides were somewhat disconnected,” Aguilar told Variety at Cannes.

The second edition will be “sharper, more integrated and build a much-more industry-focused event.”

Baja’s inaugural edition featured a Mexico-U.S. Forum of panel discussions. This year, Alonso said, “I’d like to transcend just talking about the state of Mexican cinema, invite more sales agents distributors and decision-makers.

“Reaching out to Canada was natural,” Alonso added. “The U.S. is key for the festival, but in many ways Mexico and Canada have more in common.”

Fest will stage international film galas and continue to invite A-list Hollywood talent.

Baja gears up for its sophomore edition as film links between Mexico and the U.S. are escalating, driven by the ambitions of Mexican shingles and Hollywood’s recognition of the importance of the Mexican and Latin American market and talent pool.

Canana, Lemon Films and Alex Garcia all operate out of both Mexico City and Los Angeles. Participant Media’s Participant PanAmerica partners include Canana, which launched joint sales company, Mundial, with Stuart Ford’s IM Global late last year.

More Film

  • Vice Media

    Vice Media Taps Joe Simon as Chief Technology Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Joe Simon has been tapped as chief technology officer at Vice Media. The newly created role will include oversight of data analytics, engineering, information technology, media operations, media technology, post production, and systems management. Prior to Vice, Simon spent three years as Encompass Digital Media’s chief operating officer. Previously he held the chief technology officer [...]

  • Michael B Jordan denzel washington

    Michael B. Jordan to Star in Denzel Washington's 'Journal for Jordan'

    Michael B. Jordan is in talks to star in Sony’s “Journal for Jordan,” a drama that will be directed by Denzel Washington. The movie, penned by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Virgil Williams, is based on the true story of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dana Canedy’s love affair with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. King kept a journal [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone

    Sylvester Stallone's Superhero Drama 'Samaritan' Lands at MGM

    MGM is developing the superhero drama “Samaritan” with Sylvester Stallone attached to star and produce through his Balboa Productions. The studio has acquired Bragi F. Schut’s script, which centers on a boy learning that a missing superhero, who vanished 20 years earlier after a battle, may still be alive. MGM will develop “Samaritan” with Stallone [...]

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Oscars: Kendrick Lamar and SZA Will Not Perform 'Black Panther' Song (EXCLUSIVE)

    Despite the Academy’s efforts to secure Kendrick Lamar and SZA for a performance of the Oscar-nominated song “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” on the upcoming Oscars telecast, the duo will not be a part of the show, Variety has learned. The reason, according to a source close to the situation, is logistics and timing. [...]

  • Oscars Spa Treatments

    Area Spas Offer Red Carpet Treatments in Time for Oscars

    From a shopping session with a celebrity stylist to a covert airport pickup, these hotels and spas are offering even more curated packages for the ultimate VIP Oscar experience. For the Jetsetter Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills’ Doheny Suite Experience package allows travelers to evade the paparazzi with an underground or curbside [...]

  • Rocketman

    See Taron Egerton Transform Into Elton John in New ‘Rocketman’ Trailer

    A new trailer for “Rocketman,” the Elton John “fantasy musical” in theaters May 31, was released today. As the singer, actor Taron Egerton (“Eddie the Eagle”) performs “Tiny Dancer” and is seen honing his talent at home, rising to fame and grappling with the pitfalls that superstardom can bring. The film also stars Jamie Bell (as John’s [...]

  • Matthew McConaughey White Boy Rick

    STX Buys Matthew McConaughey's Crime Drama 'Bush' for U.S.

    STXfilms has picked up U.S. rights to Matthew McConaughey’s British crime drama “Bush,” with Guy Ritchie directing and producing, for $7 million. The project, formerly known as “Toff Guys,” also stars Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, and Michelle Dockery. The deal was in the works in Berlin and has just been completed. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content