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‘The Chambermaid,’ ‘Museo’ Take Top Honors at Morelia Film Festival

The Chambermaid Ventana Sur Fest Traveler
Courtesy of Ventana Sur

Lila Avilés snagged the top prize at Friday night’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival closing ceremony with her debut feature, “The Chambermaid” (“La Camarista”), which world premiered at Toronto. It also took the Warrior of the Press award.

“Llegamos! Llegamos!” (“We made it! We made it!”), screamed Avilés all the way from her seat to the stage, before breathlessly explaining her excitement. “I used up all of my savings to make this film.”

Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Museo,” starring Mexico’s most marketable actor Gael García Bernal, had the biggest impact on the public, scoring the Audience Award for best Mexican film. Best director also went to Ruizpalacios.

This year’s festival jury boasted a lineup as impressive as the competition itself. Led by writer-director Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin”), the jury included filmmaker Patrice Leconte (“Monsieur Hire”), actor-director-producer Diego Luna (“Star Wars: Rogue One,” “Y Tu Mama También”), EFM founder Beki Probst and Academy Award-winning producer Adele Romanski.

The festival doled out nearly $100,000 in cash prizes in addition to a number of prizes in kind from festival sponsors and honorary awards.

“For the first time, we are presenting an award for Artistic Excellence in Cinema, with Alfonso Cuaron as its first recipient this year,” said festival president Alejandro Ramirez, who co-founded Morelia with VP Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and general director Daniela Michel.

More than half of the documentary and fiction features in competition at this year’s festival came from women filmmakers. And, on Friday night, all the documentary awards went to films directed or co-directed by women.

“We received 500 shorts, 80 features and 100 documentaries, of which we selected 59 shorts, 11 features and 11 documentaries,” said Ramirez who added, “By coincidence, most of the female directors made the cut.”

“Cold War” director Pawel Pawlikowski, in town to lead an Alfonso Cuarón masterclass, was recognized with the UNAM Filmoteca Medal. Michel describes Pawlikowski as: “One of the most extraordinarily lucid and precise filmmakers working today.”

Cuervo, which sponsored the closing night party, also gave a lifetime achievement award to actress Cecilia Suárez.

The Locarno Academy held its fourth edition in cooperation with Morelia, moderated by Interior XIII founder Sandra Gomez. The event is held to foster the growth and development of emerging industry talent through a series of classes, workshops and meetings.

This year’s Impulso Morelia, the festival’s works in progress section for Mexican films, was praised for its selection of films which often took an honest yet critical look at issues facing Mexican society today. Big winners at the event were Hari Sama’s coming-of-age drama “This is Not Berlin” and Gian Cassini’s autobiographical documentary “Comala.”

WINNERS OF THE 16TH MORELIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (October 20-28, 2017)

MEXICAN FICTION SECTION

Best Film

“La Camarista,” Lila Avilés

Best Director

Alonso Ruizpalacios, (“Museo”)

Best Actress

Naian González Norvind, “Leona”

Best Actress Special Mention

Sótera Cruz, “Xquipi’ Guie’dani”

Best Actor

Raúl Briones, “Asfixia”

Press Award for Best Fiction Feature

“La Camarista,” Lila Avilés

Audience Award for a Mexican Feature

“Museo,” Alonso Ruizpalacios

DOCUMENTARY SECTION

Best Mexican Feature Documentary

“Una Corriente Salvaje,” Nuria Ibáñez Castañeda

Best Documentary from a Female Director

“El Sembrador,” Melissa Elizondo

Audience Award for a Mexican Feature Documentary

“El Sembrador,” Melissa Elizondo

Special Mention

“Ya Me Voy,” Lindsey Cordero, Armando Croda

SHORT FILMS SECTION

Best Mexican Fiction Short

“The Girl with Two Heads,” Betzabé Garcia

Best Mexican Documentary Short

“El Peso de los Caídos,” Gastón Andrade

Mexican Online Short

“Las Rancheras,” Hermann Neudert

Best Animated Short

“32-Rbit,” Víctor Orozco Ramírez

Special Mention for a Mexican Short

“Ombligo de Agua,” Laura Baumeister

Renta Imagen Special Award

“El Aire Delgado,” Pablo Giles

MICHOACAN SECTION

Best Film

“El Amor Dura Tres Meses,” Rafael Martínez García

Special Mention

“Noticias de Plutón,” Diego Flores Contreras