With Roger Corman, the trailblazing “Pope of Pop Cinema” no less, as its guest of honor, the Morbido Film Fest marks its 10th anniversary with great panache.
From Oct. 26 to Nov. 5, Latin America’s premier genre film fest aims to lure the best and boldest of the genre universe. Past guests of honor have included John Landis whose direction of Michael Jackson’s iconic music video “Thriller” was feted at last year’s opening ceremony, where dancers re-enacted Jackson and his dance troupe’s much-lauded moves. The festival’s extravagant opening ceremony sets the tone for the rest of the festival, says Morbido Group CEO-founder Pablo Guisa Koestinger, who as master of ceremonies and host, goes through a variety of costume changes himself throughout the fest.
In the past nine editions, guests of honor from 29 countries included such luminaries as Joe Dante, Hideo Nakata, Elijah Wood, Richard Elfman, Takashi Murakami, Michael Nyman and Jaume Balaguero.
Corman will be joined by his wife, producer Julie Corman. Also present will be Alexandre O. Philippe, who presents his Sundance docu, “78/52,” which deconstructs the shower scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Spain is repped by Paco Plaza, maker of the “Rec” franchise. In addition, Morbido will present a Lifetime Achievement Award to scream queen Barbara Crampton.
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Guisa, an actor and producer who virtually grew up in Mexico’s storied Churubusco Studios where his father worked, has overseen the exponential growth of what started as a film festival to honor his favorite genre. It began in 2008 as a bid to promote Mexico’s traditions and cinema and has evolved into a thematic cultural fest. Aside from screening fantasy, horror and sci-fi films, the event holds art exhibitions, concerts, workshops, book presentations, lectures and a raucous Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) match.
Based for its first four years in Tlalpujahua, designated Pueblo Magico by the tourism authority, it moved to the lakeside town of Patzcuaro, the epicenter of Mexico’s the Day of the Dead. Morbido grew to such an extent that it next moved to Puebla City.
Since last year, the fest has made Mexico City its permanent venue.
“The move from Puebla to Mexico City impacted attendance in two ways: more attendees in the theater and fewer attendees in the free public events, since we have less of these events in Mexico City,” says Guisa.
The festival forms part of a multi-spoked horror & fantasy content hub that includes: Morbido TV, Radio Morbido, Morbido Magazine, Morbido web and films.
AG Studios’ Alex Garcia, an investor in Morbido in the past four years, says: “I’m very proud to be a part of Morbido and to see how Pablo and his team have evolved an idea into a fully functioning initiative, which after 10 years is just starting!”
He points out that the genre audience is among the most fiercely loyal out there. “I’ve also appreciated Morbido’s potential to diversify its brand, with merchandising and Morbido TV, among others.”
Garcia is also a co-managing partner of IB Broadcasting Co. along with Eduardo Caso who runs Morbido TV.
“We now have 500 hours of curated programming and will increase it in successive increments of some 200 hours,” says Caso, who lists such acquisitions as the Hammer House of Horrors catalog, British sci-fi series “Thunderbirds” and Syfy’s “Z Nation” zombie series. Plans are afoot to launch a Morbido TV Everywhere app toward the end of the year.
Guisa is next setting his sights on making the festival an industry hub for genre pics. Morbido has been awarding prizes at Latin American confab Ventana Sur’s works-in-progress program, Blood Window, since its inception four years ago.
For the first time this year, the fest will be hosting workshops that will pair aspiring filmmakers with mentors. “We want Morbido to become an industry event, which will hopefully generate sales, distribution and co-production deals,” says Guisa.