×

MORELIA, Mexico – Gabriel Mariño’s “Yesterday Wonder I Was” (“Ayer Maravilla Fui”) scooped two awards Saturday night at Mexico’s premiere competitive showcase for local cinema, the 15th Morelia International Film Festival. Marino’s black and white existential follow-up to his 2012 debut “A Secret World” won best first or second Mexican feature, which comes with a cash prize of some $16,000 (300,000 pesos) from main fest sponsor Cinepolis and post production services valued at $39,000 (750,000 pesos) from the storied Churubusco Studio.

Thesp Sonia Franco snagged a best actress prize for her moving performance in “Yesterday…” The best actor award went to Pedro Hernandez for his role in “Sinvivir,” Barcelona-born Anais Pareto’s tale of friends forced to live together, discovering what life is in the process.

Marcelo Tobar’s “Polar Bear” (“Oso Polar”), first presented at last year’s pix-in-post program Impulso Morelia and also Mexico’s first iPhone-shot film, won the best Mexican feature award. “Oso Polar” tracks a trio of old school friends on a raucous trip to an elementary school reunion. Tobar wins post production services from the Churubusco Studio worth $39,000 (750,000 pesos) and a cash prize of $26,000 (500,000 pesos) from the festival.

“The fact that I shot this on an iPhone and won proves that there are no excuses not to film, even if you don’t secure funding from the government or other sources,” said Tobar. “Just get out and film.”

Natalia Beristain’s ode to pioneering Mexican feminist Rosario Castellanos, “The Eternal Feminine” (“Los Adioses”) took home the audience prize. Among the documentaries, the audience award went to Maria Jose Glender’s portrait of a recluse in the mountains, “Back to the Origin” (“Regreso al Origen”).

Luciana Kaplan’s “Rush Hour” which shows the impact of traffic on the lives of three disparate individuals in Mexico, Los Angeles and Istanbul, won the highest honor: the Ojo Mexican documentary award. Doc was co-produced by Martha Sosa, Jose Cohen and Carlos Hagerman. An emotional Kaplan took to the stage to accept her reward and said, “This documentary took me three years to make. Thanks to traffic, thanks to all of you, I’m here.”

Top award in the Michoacán sidebar went to Maria Jose, Jorge Scobell and Noe Martinez’s doc “The Word of the Cave” (“La Palabra de la Cueva”) which delves into the mystery of the two-thousand- year old Cave of Painted Dolls; the link between these cave paintings and the present-day religious rites of the indigenous Raramuri people.

Among the hundreds of shorts in competition, Sumie Garcia’s “Relato Familiar” won best doc short. Sofia Carrillo’s “Cerulia” took home the best animation short and Daniel Najera’s “Vuelve a Mi” won best live action short. Morelia’s 15th edition saw some of Mexico’s greatest Oscar-winning talent on hand, led by Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”), Art Director Eugenio Caballero (“Pan’s Labyrinth) and Guillermo del Toro whose “Pan’s Labyrinth” also took home Oscars in make-up and cinematography. Thesps Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal also swept into Morelia for brief visits.

Del Toro, in town to present his Venice Golden Lion Best Film winner, “The Shape of Water,” was mobbed by fans everywhere he turned up. In characteristic generosity, he spent two hours on the red carpet before its premiere, expanded his master class from two to nearly three hours and delayed a benefit screening by an hour as he took selfies and signed autographs for its audience. “Guillermo has been the most extraordinarily generous guest we have ever had,” director Daniela Michel declared to audiences.

In Morelia to support the world premiere of “Coco” where he voiced a pivotal character in the Day of the Dead-themed toon, Bernal dedicated Pixar’s latest animated feature to his father who hails from the state of Michoacán. In a barbed reference to Trump’s border plan, he said: “We [Mexicans] are human beings, which no wall can separate.” Former VP and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore also held court to present his latest docu “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”

Morelia was marked by a number of benefit screenings to raise funds for the victims of the devastating earthquakes that hit Mexico a few weeks ago. Cinepolis CEO Alejandro Ramirez announced that the festival saw a record 46,000 admissions this year and said,  “In its 15 years, the festival has remained true to its essence, as a vital platform for Mexican filmmakers.”

WINNERS OF THE 15TH MORELIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (October 20-29, 2017)
FICTION
Best Mexican Film
“Polar Bear,” Marcelo Tobar
Best First or Second Mexican Film
“Yesterday Wonder I Was,” Gabriel Mariño
Best Mexican Actor
Pedro Hernandez, “Sinvivir”
Best Mexican Actress
Sonia Franco, “Yesterday Wonder I Was”
Audience, Best Fiction Feature Award
“The Eternal Feminine,” Natalia Beristáin

DOCUMENTARY
Best Mexican Documentary
“Rush Hour,” Luciana Kaplan
Special Mention, Best Mexican Documentary
“Artemio,” Sandra Luz Lopez Barroso
Best Documentary by a Woman
“No Sucumbio la Eternidad,” Daniela Rea Gomez
Ambulante Documentary Award
“Potentiae,” Javier Toscano
Audience Award, Mexican Documentary
“Regreso al Origen,” Maria Jose Glender

MICHOACAN
Best Feature
“The Word of the Cave,” Maria Sosa, Jorge Scobell, Noe Martinez
Hermanos Alva Award
“The Word of the Cave,” Maria Sosa, Jorge Scobell, Noe Martinez
Special Mention
“Dejalo Ser,” Txema Novelo