LOS CABOS – Three movies which have caught attention this year – Marcelo Tobar’s “Asteroid,” Carlos Armella’s “The Land of Silence” and Isaac Ezban’s “The Incident ” – feature in the seven-pic showcase Mexico First at the 3rd Los Cabos Intl. Film Festival, which kicks off today in Baja California.
With the project-based Mexico-U.S.-Canada Co-production Forum, and Works in Progress – Mexico, a pix in post competish, Mexico First, which screens complete first or second local features, is one of three sections at Los Cabos which act as a platform and case for new Mexican talent.
That’s something that, over the last decade, Mexico has had in bundles: Think Carlos Reygadas (“Stellet Licht,” “Post Tenebras Lux”), Gerardo Naranjo (“Miss Bala,” “I’m Gonna Explode”), Fernando Eimbcke (“Lake Tahoe,” “Club Sandwich” ), Gaz Alazraki (“We Are the Nobles”), Eugenio Derbez (“Instruction Not Included”), Patricia Riggen (“Under the Same Moon,” “The 33”), Jorge Michel Grau (“Somos lo que hay”) and Rodrigo Pla (“The Delay”), all directors who have broken through to international recognition in the last ten years. And that list could be much longer.
A Miami Fest world premiere this March, “Asteroid’s” slowing building tale of sibling rivalry has drawn positive reviews: Variety’s Guy Lodge called it “familiar but assured.”
Presented by Alejandro González Iñarritu – Armella directed a making-off of “Babel” – “Silence,” a father-son relationship drama set in an empty village, reps the fiction feature debut of a director who won a Venice Golden Lion for 2008 short “Tierra y pan,” and San Sebastian’s highly competitive Horizontes Latinos Award for 2005 docu “Toro Negro.”
Playing Ventana Sur’s Blood Window showcase at Cannes, and the first completed film from Austin’s Fantastic Fest international genre co-production market, “The Incident” combines two stories of groups trapped in illogical endless spaces for 35 years: Two brothers and a detective locked on an infinite stairwell; a family on an unending road to the beach.
Both scenarios, as the set-up Ezban’s follow-up, “The Similars,” carry a wider social resonance.
Los Cabos’ Mexico First also features the debut of Elise DuRant, an assistant editor on multuple Woody Allen films, the semi-autobiographical “Eden,” which turns on a young women who returns to her home village in Mexico to discover why her father fled from there and Mexico 25 years ago, when she was a child.
As Alonso Castillo-Aguilar, Los Cabos Fest director, points out, though only three years old, Los Cabos is beginning to develop virtuous cycles, its own industrial eco-system, where local titles feature one year in development or in post using Los Cabos as an international launch platform, then return to Los Cabos as finished films. “Asteroid” was a Los Cabos Work in Progress winner last year, scooping its Fox+ Prize; “Edén” also played WIP, took a Gabriel Figueroa $52,000 post-production grant, made its world bow in the Rotterdam Festival Bright Future section. Likewise, Alejandra Marquez’s “Easter” won a Gabriel Figueroa grant in 2013, and now moves up to Work in Progress.
Mexico First is rounded off by Matías Penachino’s “El Bien Supremo,” about two brothers who reconnect, travelling to their family home across the U.S, and Arturo González Villaseñor’s docu-feature “All of Me,” one of the three world premieres at Los Cabos, which turns on Las Patronas, a group of women in Veracruz who gather every day to cook and toss food to migrants riding La Bestia, a freight train bound for the U.S.
Las Patronas won last December Mexico’s Human Rights National Prize. They say that what they do because it makes them feel better.
Playing out of competition is Ricardo Silva’s “Navajazo,” an episodic portrait of lowlifes and oddballs living in Tijuana, which was this year’s Locarno Filmmakers of the Present winner.