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‘Carmin Tropical’ Surprises With Top Prize at Morelia Film Fest

MEXICO CITY – “Carmin Tropical,” Rigoberto Perezcano’s exploration into gender, family and violence, took the top prize for best fiction feature at the Morelia International Film Festival on Friday evening. It beat out Alonso Ruizpalacio’s “Güeros,” which nearly made a sweep, winning the press prize, public prize, and best first or second work, as well as picking up actor kudos for the three leads in the film.

The second feature from Perezcano, whose first film “Northless” also bowed at Morelia, focuses on the community of traditional transgendered women, known as muxes, on the southern Isthmus of Tehuantepec, turning on a trans woman’s homecoming to seek the killer of her friend, another muxe. “Carmin” was co-produced by Cinepantera and Tiburon Films.

The win is impressive, coming against the much-lauded “Güeros,” which took best first feature in Berlin, as well as kudos in Tribeca and San Sebastian. The Tenoch Huerta starrer, which acts like a road movie set almost entirely within Mexico City, had a jam-packed press screening amid heavy buzz.

All in all, the festival’s main lineup showed considerable strength, including a noteworthy performance by Geraldine Chaplin in “Sand Dollars” (“Dolares de arena”), despite losing out in the actress category to Veronica Langer in the class dramedy “Hilda.”

While it did not win anything, Bernardo Arellano’s portrait of a nonagenarian couple facing utter poverty, “The Beginning of Time” (“El comienzo del tiempo”), had plenty of fans in its corner, a telling measure of this year’s depth in the feature competition.

Morelia handed the top doc to visual artist-turned-director Fernando Llanos for “Matria,” an art-minded telling of an incident involving Mexican cowboys and Nazis.

Top short, which is eligible for Oscar consideration, went to Ana Ireri Campos Estrada’s “Historias” (literally, “Stories”).

Cinepolis, filmfest sponsor and the world’s fourth largest exhibitor, announced it had locked down domestic distribution for two films that showed at the festival — Andrés Clariond’s “Hilda” and Luis Javier M. Henaine’s break-up-for-hire romantic comedy “Happy Times” (“Tiempos felices”), one more step in the expansion of its distrib business.

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