Two of Mexico’s most respected women film executives Alejandra Paulín and Maru Garzón, have been named joint heads of the country’s Los Cabos Intl. Film Festival, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing film events. Paulín will serve as executive director and Garzón as artistic director.
The appointments were announced Thursday by Los Cabos president Eduardo Sánchez Navarro and Alfonso Pasquel, president of Los Cabos Arte y Cultura A.C.
Paulín and Garzón replace Hugo Villa, Los Cabos Festival director at last year’s edition but named in February as director of Mexico’s Unam Filmoteca, a key national cinematheque.
Garzón and Paulín’s new joint leadership recognizes their role in the build of Los Cabos, launched as recently as 2012, as a key – as well as highly enjoyable – event working an ever more dynamic U.S.-Mexico-Canada movie axis. Both already held top jobs at Los Cabos, Garzón as programming director, Paulín as general co-ordinator, joining Los Cabos in its first and second editions respectively.
“We trust the experience of Alexandra and Maru, who have participated actively in the organization of the Festival from its beginnings and are key pieces of its structure,” Pasquel said in a statement.
He added: “Both know the project in all of its facets, so we’re sure that their co-direction. together with the board of the festival, will continue to strengthen this film project framed by the unmatched scenery which Los Cabos offers us.”
Garzón will oversee the festival’s programming structure and choices, image and part of communication, Paulín institutional relations, strategic alliances and the production of the festival.
Rapidly built up by Alonso Aguilar-Castillo, fest director over 2013-16, Los Cabos has grown as Mexican movies make increasing inroads at the U.S. box office – three of the seven highest-grossing foreign-language titles in the U.S. since 2013 are from Mexico: “Instructions Not Included” ($44.5 million) “No Manches Frida” ($11.6 million) and “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos” ($9.0 million).
Mexican have won the best director Academy Award four of the last five years. In a newer trend, Mexico, as well as the Latino U.S., demands ever more high-end TV dramas to feed primetime and OTT platform schedules. Readily crossing over from Mexico to the U.S., or collaborating with Hollywood companies on films and TV on Spanish and English-language projects, top-notch Mexican talent is in high demand.
Positioned as a crossroads event for U.S., Mexican and Canadian films and industry executives, Los Cabos has also channelled building interest in Canada for stronger links to Mexico.
Mexico’s Imcine public sector film-TV agency and the Canada Media Fund signed a co-development pact at last’s year’s Los Cabos for film, TV and digital-first shows. Taking place, moreover, around the Cabo San Lucas marina and adjoining hotels, the Festival has offered a welcome post-AFM chill-out to Hollywood execs.
A boutique event, Los Cabos has been distinguished not so much by the number as caliber of its industry guests, taking in Roeg Sutherland and Micah Green, when both at CAA, ICM’s Jessica Lacy and Peter Trinh, UTA’s Bec Smith and Paradigm’s Gabriel Mena and Nicholas Lopiccolo, as well as top sales agents – Stuart Ford, Alex Walton, Vincent Maraval, Nicolas Chartier – and Mexican industry players such as Gastón Pavlovich, Alex García, Michel Franco, Pablo Cruz, Jaime Romandia and Nicolás Celis.
Managing its own Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, which offers grants to Mexican movies for development and post-production, often subsequently screening the movies at the Festival, Los Cabos offers a co-production forum for U.S., Mexican and Canadian film/TV projects in development and a Mexican pix-in-post competition. Last year, it saw attendance rocket 48% to a highly creditable and often young 12,000 spectators.
Garzón and Paulín aim for Los Cabos to continue as “a solid platform for the national cinemas of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada,” said Paulín.
Garzón commented: “I feel that last year we peaked, in terms of programming, projects presented, works-in-progress, and sold-out screenings. For the moment, our big challenge is to maintain this level.”
The festival will also look to increase the involvement of prominent figures from North American which come to present their films in Los Cabos, whether in business announcements or their reviewing projects at the festival, Garzón added.
Paulín and Garzón will attend the Cannes Festival where the Cannes Film Market and Los Cabos will host a six-title movies-in-post showcase, Los Cabos Goes to Cannes. The 7th Los Cabos Festival runs Nov. 7-11.