Six Mexican films featured at November’s Los Cabos in Progress will make the cross-Atlantic trip to participate in this year’s Cannes Film Festival Market pix-in-post initiative, Los Cabos Goes to Cannes.
The Los Cabos International Film Festival, now heading into its 7th year, aims to grow and strengthen a pan-North American cinema culture, promoting filmmakers and films from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Los Cabos also hosts an industry platform intended to link professionals throughout the territories.
A well-rounded selection of films: Two fiction, Kyzza Terrazas’ “Bayoneta” and Fernando Frias’ “I’m No Longer Here”; two docs, Betzabé García’s “#Mickey” and Rodrigo Iturralde Álvarez and Georgina González Rodríguez’s “Finding the Werewolf”; and, notably, two animated features, “A Costume for Nicolas” from Eduardo Rivero and “Olimpia” from J. M. Cravioto, make up this year’s selected films-in-progress.
A constantly recurring theme in North American cinema, immigration stands out as a major theme among this year’s films, not surprising given the current state of affairs at the Mexico-U.S. border. Half of the participants have immigration stories at the core of their narratives.
On Sunday afternoon, May 12, representatives from each film will have the opportunity to pitch their filmsin hopes of securing sales, distribution or further festival pickups.
Director Kyzza Terrazas, one of the co-creative forces behind Gael Garcia Bernal’s lauded Canneseries high-end drama “Here on Earth,” was one of Variety’s directors to track at November’s Los Cabos.
A singular take in immigration for a Mexican film, “Bayoneta” chronicles how a boxer’s attempt to find redemption in his own eyes and more importantly those of his daughter take him away from his daughter to fight a match in the snowy wastes of Scandinavia. “Bayoneta” screened in rough cut, and won the opportunity to participate in Goes to Cannes.
Luis Gerardo Méndez, an emerging cross-over actor with recent roles in Sebastian Hofmann’s “Time Share” and Netflix’s “Club of Crows,” plays the main character. “The United States is not everything,” he told Variety before Los Cabos, explaining that he sees the film as a story of immigration rather than pugilism. “There are other places too. Mexico is trying to find its place in the world.”
A co-production between New York’s Dodgeville Films and Mexico’s Varios Lobos, “I’m No Longer Here,” is the second film from Mexico’s Fernando Frias (“Receta”), a Fulbright scholar at Colombia University’s Graduate School of the Arts.
The film turns on Ulises, a teenager forced to emigrate to the U.S. off the back of a misunderstanding with local cartels in his home town of Monterrey, Mexico. Once he arrives in New York, he quickly realizes that the violence back home, however bad, is not as threatening as the isolation he feels in America, as his identity is taken from him and commoditized.
A recipient of the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, the title pitched at Los Cabos where Frías told Variety: “The film tries to raise questions about how history is written these days where even counter-cultural movements can become another product on supermarket shelves.”
“#Mickey” is a hyper-modern documentary with a distinct digital feel. The film takes a stylized look into the life of Youtuber #Mickey, who at the age of 11 started making videos as a way of dealing with the intense homophobia present in her community. It’s produced by Venado Films with additional funding raised via Kickstarter.
“I think that gender is changing and is built throughout life,” said director Betzabé García. “It is not something defined, but it is a journey of exploration. The internet and social networks have played a key role in the exploration of identity and in the process of self-discovery of the new generations.”
An animated documentary-thriller, “Olimpia” will follow Raquel, Rodolfo and Hernán, three students from Mexico’s National Autonomous University student movement in 1968, when the Mexican military moved against student protestors. It’s produced by director J.M. Cravioto’s Pirexia Films.
“I intend to create a direct and frontal dialogue with young people,” explained Cravioto, “With Mexico and the world in upheaval, we ask ourselves what are we doing, and what are we going to do? As I don’t dedicate myself to politics, and it would be complex to get involved in an armed movement, this film ends up being my weapon.”
“Finding the Werewolf” documents the search for Gabriel “Larry” Gomez, a Mexican immigrant in the U.S. with the rare genetic disorder of hypertrichosis, aka werewolf syndrome. Larry was always open about his condition, and even landed roles in major Hollywood films like “Water for Elephants.” However, since Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, he must now keep a low profile and avoid ICE raids if he wishes to stay in the place he has called home for so many years now.
Writer-director Georgina Gonzalez talked with Variety about what excites her most about the film: “As immigrants ourselves, we are very passionate about bringing Larry’s story to audiences so we can help our world to embrace otherness in a time when we feel this is urgent.”
“A Costume for Nicolás” is the second film from Fotosíntesis, the social-conscious joint-venture animation label of Mexico City-based Mantarraya Producciones, the producer of Carlos Reygadas’ movies. The first, “The Angel in the Clock,” premieres this June at Annecy.
“Nicolás” is the story of a 10 year old boy with Down syndrome who moves in with his grandparents and cousin after his mother passes away. His cousin suffers from nightmares, and Nicolás decides to use a collection of costumes his mother made him to help overcome the bad dreams. Eduardo Rivero, who acted as art director on “The Angel in the Clock” directs.
“With Nicolás we are excited to promote an inclusive and tolerant society based on love and values that represent the main character of the film, a child with Down Syndrome who uses his magical disguise to film his great bravery,” explained producer Mike Uriegas.
John Hopewell contributed to this article