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‘Ixcanul’ Tops Cartagena, Continues Fest Triumphs

‘White Out,’ ‘Silencio del rio’ also score top plaudits

Jayro Bustamante’s debut “Ixcanul,” the flagship of a burgeoning Guatemalan cinema, continued its triumphant festival march, winning Official Fiction Competition best picture at Colombia’s 55th Cartagena Festival, which wrapped Tuesday night.

A Berlin Festival Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize winner, “Ixcanul” took top honors – best Ibero-American picture and director – just last Saturday at Mexico’s Guadalajara Fest. Described by Variety’s Scott Foundas as “a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature” and “downright Herzogian (far more Herzogian than Herzog’s own ‘Queen of the Desert’),” “Ixcanul” has now achieved the near unthinkable for a Guatemalan movie just a few years back: a French co-producer, Edgard Tenembaum’s Paris-based Tu Vas Voir, whose credits also include Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries”; a sales agent, Vicente Canales’ Film Factory, now one of the biggest dealers in not only Spanish but Latin American films; top fest plaudits and major territory sales to distinguished distributors, such as France’s ARP Selection, Japan’s Gaga Communications and Italy’s Lucky Red.

After a first raft of sales, including to multiple other terrtories, announced just after Berlin, more deals will close on “Ixcanul,” said Film Factory’s Canales. A Colombia sale is under negotiation, off the back of the prize, he added.

A platform for Colombia’s cinema, and Latin America filmmaking at large, Cartagena’s 2015 kudos shone the spotlight on three titles deserving further recognition: Brazilian Adirley Queiros’ first play at fiction, “White Out, Black In,” an original mix of documentary, fiction and, yes, time travel, as two real-life victims of police racist violence fight back, which took a Special Jury Prize and Fipresci nod; and Chilean Maite Alberdi’s best docu pic winner “Tea Time,” about some old dears who enjoy a near ritual cuppa together, building into a portrait of admirable democratic friendship and support, despite disagreements, down the decades.

Peru’s Hector Galvez won director for “NN,” a measured chronicle of a forensic pathologist’s attempts to identify a corpse, a victim of Peru’s Dirty War, and the toll this takes on him, first seen internationally at Rome.

Of new films, playing Toulouse’s 2014 Films in Progress, Carlos Tribiño’s  “El silencio del rio,” a boy’s vision of war-ravaged Colombia’s sparked by his discovery of a corpse in a river, took Cartagena’s coveted Colombian Cinema Competition best picture prize.

Suggesting broad appeal, docu-feature “Carta a una sombra,” a personal vision of the life and death of doctor Hector Abad Gomez, co-directed by Miguel Salazar and Abad’s granddaughter, Daniela Abad, won the Colombian Competition’s Special Jury Prize and the Club Colombia Audience Award.

Awards ceremony and a screening of Rodrigo Garcia’s “Last Days in the Desert” closed the 55th Cartagena Festival, the first under new artistic director Diana Bustamante, one of Colombia’s leading international producers (“The Wind Journeys,” “Crab Trap,” “La Playa D.C.,” “Refugiado” ). Boasting choice tributes – to Argentina’s Pablo Trapero, Korea’s Kim Ki-duk, and Darren Aronofsky – zeroing in on some of the Latin America’s very recent 2015 highlights – “Ixcanul,” “600 Miles” for example – opening with “Alias Maria,” one of the most anticipated Colombian titles of the year, and bowing a first PuertoLab Works in Progress competition, Bustamante has built a strong base for the future. That is all the more necessary in 2015: As Colombia still grows, in the international ambitions of its film and TV industries, and as a locale for international shoots, it needs a prestige premier festival that can also grow with it.

55TH CARTAGENA DE INDIAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, MARCH 11-17, 2015

OFFICIAL FICTION COMPETITION

BEST PICTURE

“Ixcanul,” (Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, France)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“White Out, Black In,” (Adirley Queirós, Brazil)

BEST DIRECTOR

Héctor Gálvez (“NN,” Peru, Colombia, Germany, France)

FIPRESCI INTL. FEDERATION OF FILM CRITICS PRIZE

“White Out, Black In,” (Adirley Queirós, Brazil)

OFFICIAL COLOMBIAN CINEMA COMPETITION

BEST PICTURE

“The Silence of the River,” (Carlos Tribiño, Colombia, Uruguay, France)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“Letter to a Shadow,” (Miguel Salazar and Daniela Abad, Colombia)

BEST DIRECTOR

Roberto Flores Prieto, (Pink Noise)

ADDITIONAL PRIZES

COLOMBIA CLUB AUDIENCE AWARD

“Letter to a Shadow,” (Miguel Salazar and Daniela Abad, Colombia)

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

BEST PICTURE

“Tea Time,” (Maite Alberdi, Chile, U.S.)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“You and Me,” (Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, Dominican Republic)

GEMS

BEST PICTURE

“Beautiful Youth,” (Jaime Rosales, Spain, France)

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

“The Man of the Crowd,” (Marcelo Gomes and Cao Guimaraes, Brazil)

JURY MENTION

“Timbuktu,” (Abderrahmane Sissako, Mauritania, France)

OFFICIAL SHORT COMPETITION

BEST SHORT

“Rabbits for Sale,” (Esteban Giraldo, Colombia)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Completo,” (Iván Gaona, Colombia)

NEW CREATORS

BEST SHORT

“En busca del aire,” (Mauricio Rojas Maldonado, Universidad de Antioquia)

SPECIAL MENTION

“La ruta de Julita,” (Omar Eduardo Ospina, Universidad del Magdalena)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Estepario,” (Ángela Duque, Universidad de la Sabana)

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