GUADALAJARA– Max Zunino’s “Open Cage,” Sebastian del Amo’s “Cantinflas” and Horacio Alcala’s “Grazing Sky” (pictured) are among the first 14 titles that will compete for Guadalajara Festival’s top Mezcal prize.

Hiked in value to 500,000 pesos ($37,000), the plaudit for the best Mexican feature which has its domestic release at the Festival – fiction or documentary – will be paid to the winning Mexican movie’s director at the 29th Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG), which runs March 21-30.

A double redemption movie written by Zunino and Sofia Espinosa, who also co-stars, “Open Cage” charts the building relationship between a jobless 65-year-old (esteemed thesp Juan Carlos Colombo) and an initially callous girl drifter (Espinosa). It pulled off an unusual double-fist triumph last year, sharing top plaudits at both Guadalajara and Ventana Sur’s work in progress strands.

A portrait of the Mexican comic up to his Golden Globe winning turn as valet Passepartout in “Around the World in 80 Days,” “Cantinflas” marks Del Amo’s follow-up to stylish biopic “The Fantastic World of Juan Orol,” which marked Del Amo as a talent to watch.

“Grazing the Sky,” Mexican Horacio Alcala’s mesmeric docu ode to the grace of acrobatics, will be seen at the European Film Market, having screened at theTorino and Palm Springs festivals and Madrid’s Matadero filmotheque, where it sparked applause and Internet buzz. Madrid’s Latido Films handles world sales.

Also in the mix, chosen out of 101 submissions, with the Mezcal Jury being made up of 29 film students, is “Four Moons” a quadruple story comedy-drama linked by the theme of challenged love. Habanero Film Sales reps world rights.

Guadalajara will also showcase “La fabulosa y patetica historia de un montaje llamado I Love Romeo y Julieta,” helmed by Rodrigo Mendoza and Manolo Caro, director of “I Don’t Know Whether To Slit My Wrists Or Leave Them Long,” a box office hit in Mexico.

Among fiction titles, Jack Zagha’s “To the Last Drop,” turns on the final adventure of four 80-year-old-plus buddies, laced with music by folk-singer Jose Alfredo Jimenez.

“Oblivion Is Full of Nostalgia,” from Alejandra Sanchez, charts two kids fleeing from Ciudad Juarez after death threats; Armando Casas’ Road movie comedy “Gang Family,”turns on a family up-to-their necks in cartel gang shenanigans.

In “The Hours with You,” helmed by Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, a woman faces the impending death of her grandmother and unwanted pregnancy; Alejandro Gerber’s “Viento aparte” follows two adolescents, a brother and sister, on a road trip across the heart of Mexico.

“Grazing Sky” is the most talked-up of a bevy of docu-feature Mezcal Prize competitors, a reflection of Mexico’s robust documentary tradition.

Among other contenders, Nicolas Echeverria’s “Echo of the Mountain,” portrays Huichol artist Santos de la Torre, Maricarmen de Lara’s “Alaide Foppa, la sin ventura,” the poetess – the film’s title is taken from one of her collections – feminist, activist and victim of a Guatemala death squad in 1980.

A world devoted at once to religious faith and worldly pleasure is caught in “The Holy and the Profane,” by Pablo Marquez.

Mauricio Bidault’s “To the End of Reckoning,” portrays Jalisco state forensic lab employees at work and play; “La danza del hipocampo,” by Gabriela Ruvalcaba, delves into the mysteries of memory. “Remedios Varo: Misterio y revelacion,” helmed by Tufic Makhlouf Akl), pays homage to the enigmatic Mexico-based surrealist artist, a contemporary of Frida Kahlo.

Mezcal contenders can screen in multiple Guadalajara sections. FICG’s Ibero-American Competition, its other main competitive showcase, will be announced shortly.

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report



“Alaide Foppa, la sin ventura,” (Maricarmen de Lara)

“Between the Holy and the Profane,” (Pablo Marquez)

“Cantinflas,” (Sebastian del Amo)

“Echo of the Mountain,” (Nicolas Echevarria)

“Oblivion is Full of Nostalgia,” (Alejandra Sanchez)

“Familia Gang,” (Armando Casas)

“Four Moons,” (Sergio Tovar Velarde)

“Grazing the Sky,” (Horacio Alcala)

“The Hours with You,” (Catalina Aguilar Mastretta)

“La danza del hipocampo,” (Gabriela Ruvalcaba)

“La fabulosa y patetica historia de un montaje llamado I Love Romeo y Julieta,” (Manolo Caro, Rodolfo Mendoza)

“Open Cage,” (Max Zunino)

“Remedios Varo: Misterio y revelacion,” (Tufic Makhlouf Akl)

“To the End of Reckoning,” (Mauricio Bidault)

“To the Last Drop,” (Jack Zagha)

“Viento aparte,” Alejandro Gerber