GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Women dominated at the Guadalajara Festival this year with Jimena Montemayor taking home the Premio Mezcal for best director and best Mexican film with her fantasy-laced family drama “Wind Traces” (“Restos de Viento”) at the 33rd festival edition that wrapped March 16.
Made with a predominantly female crew, including highly-rated director of photography Maria Secco, editor Ana Laura Castro and art director Alisarine Ducolomb, Montemayor’s win is ever more significant given the surge of women in Mexico’s film industry. “Wind Traces” also grabbed the Fipresci Int’l Critics Prize.
Starring Argentina’s Dolores Fonzi (“Paulina”), the drama turns on a woman and her two children struggling to process the father’s death, with the son embracing the fantasy figure of a paternal monster.
Another femme filmmaker, Colombia’s Laura Mora, snagged the Best Ibero-American Fiction Feature Prize, with her gripping debut, “Killing Jesus” (“Matar a Jesus”), about a young woman out to avenge her father’s murder. Inspired by Mora’s own experience, the co-production between Colombia’s 64-A Films and Argentina’s AZ Films has garnered multiple festival awards since its world premiere at Toronto, with Latido Films handling world sales.
Giovanni Rodriguez, who plays the hitman, won the Mayahuel Best Actor prize for his magnetic performance in “Killing Jesus.” He shares the prize with Mexico’s Luis Gerardo Mendez whose measured performance takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride in the darkly humorous “Time Share” (“Tiempo Compartido”), winner of the World Cinema Special Jury Prize for screenwriting at Sundance.
Praised by the jury for her “delicate work with her cast and the precision of her camera settings, which surprised with every shot,” Argentina’s Anahi Berneri snagged the Best Ibero-American Director award for her fifth feature, “Alanis.”
“Alanis,” a 2017 San Sebastian Silver Seashell director and actress (Sofia Gala) winner, tracks a young mother who turns to street prostitution to survive. When her business is shut down, she turns to her aunt’s fashion store in a seedy, multi-racial neighborhood where she tries to reclaim her dignity. Sofia Gala Castiglione took home the actress prize for her “bold and genuine” performance in “Alanis.”
The Premio Maguey, which focuses on films with LGBTQ beats, saw its best picture Maguey award to Felipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon’s “Hard Paint” (“Tinta Bruta”), already a Berlinale Panorama player, for their portrait of the final blooming of an abashed gay online performance artist, thanks to a love relationship, set in a Porto Alegre knowingly portrayed by the directorial duo.
This year saw the festival inaugurate its bold new hub, the state-of-the-art 560,000 sq. ft. Performing Arts Complex (CAE) which officially opened last October. Hotels are under construction in the area to bring guests closer to the complex.
A triumphant Guillermo del Toro, bearing his two Oscar trophies, came home to open a new theater named after him at the CAE and to preside over three master classes, the last one at the 9,000-plus seat Telmex Stadium where he patiently answered the questions from rabid fans for more than three hours.
In what was perhaps the most buzz-worthy news of the fest, Del Toro announced his plan to produce the next projects of multi-awarded stop-motion animator Karla Castaneda and helmer-scribe Issa Lopez whose fantasy film grounded in the realities of Mexico, “Tigers are not Afraid,” has drawn comparisons to Del Toro’s oeuvre.
Del Toro also unveiled the Jenkins-Del Toro International Grant, a scholarship of up to $60,000 for aspiring Mexican filmmakers, to be awarded annually at the Guadalajara Festival.
This new grant complements Del Toro’s Animexico grant, co-sponsored by giant exhibitor Cinepolis, announced at Mexico’s Morelia fest last year, which will cover the school fees, travel and board of Mexican animation students accepted at the prestigious Gobelins school in Paris.
Guadalajara was also the setting for multiple forums, workshops and talks under the 10th Talents Guadalajara educational program of the fest.
These included a last-minute panel on Women in the Industry, given the great number of female Ibero-American directors, writers and producers participating in the festival.
Mexican Film Institute, Imcine, presided over by outgoing director Jorge Sanchez, launched their annual statistical yearbook and announced a set of new incentives aimed at providing support in exhibition and distribution, long-recognized as the weakest links in the country’s robust film industry.
The 33rd Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival ran March 9-16.
PREMIO MEZCAL WINNERS
“Wind Traces,” Jimena Montemayor
Jimena Montemayor, “Wind Traces”
SPECIAL MENTION, DIRECTOR
Zita Erffa, “The Best Thing You Can Do With Your Life”
Cesar Gutierrez Miranda, “La Negrada”
Noe Hernandez, “8 out of 10”
Daniela Schmidt, “8 out of 10”
SPECIAL MENTION, ACTRESS
Concepcion Marquez, “Esmeralda’s Twilight” (“Cria Puercos”)
IBERO-AMERICAN FICTION FEATURE WINNERS
“Killing Jesus,” Laura Mora, Colombia/Argentina
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“Living and Other Fictions,” Jo Sol, Spain
Anahi Berneri, “Alanis,” Argentina
BEST FIRST FILM
“Eternity” (“Winaypacha”), Oscar Catacora, Peru
Sofia Gala Castiglione, “Alanis,” Argentina
Luis Gerardo Mendez, “Time Share,” Mexico and Giovanni Rodriguez, “Killing Jesus,” Colombia/Argentina
“Winaypacha,” Oscar Catacora
Martin Boulocq, “Eugenia,” Bolivia/Brazil
“Alberto Garcia-Alix: The Shadow Line,” Nicolas Combarro, Spain
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, DOCUMENTARY
“The Dread” (“El Espanto”), Pablo Aparo and Martin Bechimol, Argentina
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
“The Beetle at the End of the Street,” Joan Vives, Spain
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“32-Rbit,” Victor Orozco Ramirez, Mexico/Germany
“Hard Paint” (“Tinta Bruta”), Felipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, Brazil
Ellen Page, “My Days of Mercy,” U.S./U.K.
FIPRESCI INTERNATIONAL CRITICS PRIZE
“Wind Traces,” Jimena Montemayor, Mexico
“Eternity” (“Winaypacha”), Oscar Catacora, Peru