17th Morelia Int’l Film Fest Opens With the Dardennes’ ‘Young Ahmed’

For the first time in its history, the Morelia Film Festival will open with a European film, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s drama “Le Jeune Ahmed” (“Young Ahmed”), which garnered a best director prize for the Belgian siblings at Cannes last May. Luc Dardenne will be on hand to present the drama, described by Variety critic Peter Debruge as an “instantly recognizable” Dardenne film for having a “deceptively ‘rough’ quality as the directors’ earlier work, a carryover from their documentary background.”

Helmer-scribe James Ivory, who won a best adapted screenplay Oscar last year for his first-love gay drama “Call Me By Your Name” is also making his first visit to Morelia, which will honor him with a retrospective of his films.

“Five continents will be represented in Morelia this year, but most important are the 100-plus Mexican filmmakers participating in this edition,” said Morelia artistic director Daniela Michel.

The festival, with the support of the FilmWatch grant, will be hosting a forum “Mexican Indigenous Filmmakers: Identity and New Narratives” and showcase some indigenous-themed Mexican films with the participation of some of its leading lights, Luna Maran, Maria Sojob and Maria Candelaria Palma. “It’s the first time a forum and showcase of this magnitude is presented in Mexico,” Michel observed.

Popular on Variety

“As always we were presented with the difficult task of narrowing our official selection from a diversity of entries,” said Michel.

Among those who made the cut were Hari Sama’s coming-of-age punk/new wave era memoir “Esto no es Berlin” (“This is Not Berlin”); Joshua Gil’s recent Venice entry, “Sanctorum;” Bernardo Arellano’s magic realist drama, “El paraíso de la serpiente,” which participated in the festival’s 2017 pix-in-post program Impulso Morelia; and actor Jose Maria Yazpik’s directorial debut, “Polvo.” With his dark comedy, Yazpik joins the ranks of Mexican actors who have also directed films, including Demian Bichir, Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Kuno Becker.

Four female directors compete in this edition, all in the documentary section: Alicia Calderon, Marcela Arteaga, Maran and Sojob.

Calderon’s “Dibujos contra las balas,” (“Drawings Against Bullets”) follows a handful of neighbors in the border town of Juárez who have set up children’s shelters to help heal the wounds inflicted by the violence of organized crime in the city.

Arteaga’s “El guardián de la memoria,” (“The Guardian of Memory”) centers on an immigration lawyer in El Paso, Texas who is fighting to secure political asylum for his Mexican clients who are fleeing from violence at home.

Maran’s titular “Tio Yim” (“Uncle Yim”) is actually her father, a singer-songwriter, philosopher, and inveterate mezcal drinker who since the 1980s has tried to explain the way of life of indigenous communities.

In “Tote/Abuelo,” (“Granddad”) Sojob reflects on the generational and cultural gaps within her own family; a visit to her grandfather in the indigenous Tzotzil community leads her to a deeper understanding of her roots.

More private sponsors stepped up this year to back the festival, which lost some federal funding due to the new government’s austerity drive. “We are an independent festival so it has not really impacted us,” said Michel.

Meanwhile, Sundance Institute execs John Cooper and Paul Federbush are expected to attend the third Sundance Morelia lab, running Oct. 18-21. The six participants are led by Mexico-based Nicaraguan Laura Baumeister, whose “La Hija de Todas las Rabias” (“Daughter of Rage”) swept the San Sebastian Co-production Forum awards. Managed by Eva Ruiz de Chavez of Panamericana Pictures, Baumeister has several prize-winning shorts to her name. “Daughter of Rage,” her debut feature, turns on a young girl furiously seeking her mother who abandoned her at a garbage recycling dump after she accidentally poisoned the puppies her mother was breeding.

Morelia Film Fest 2019

Colombia’s Laura Mora follows her multi-winning “Killing Jesus” with a tale about five street urchins in the streets of Medellin, “Los Reyes del Mundo,” co-directed with Maria Camila Alves.

Samuel Kishi follows his coming-of-age drama “Somos Mari Pepa” with “Alondra Dejo el Nido,” co-directed with Carlos Espinoza, about an elderly Mixtec couple who venture out to find their lost daughter and granddaughter.

Editor Pierre Saint-Martin presents his feature debut “No Nos Moveran,” which centers on a lawyer who seeks to kill the solder who gunned down her brother during the October 1968 Tlatelolco massacre when armed forces opened fire on students protesting the Mexico Summer Olympics.

Astrid Rondero’s Sujo: bajo el nombre de un caballo” follows young Sujo whose late drug dealer father’s dangerous past forces him to flee the city.

Lastly, “Una Historia Falsa,” by Miguel Lozano and Anton Goenechea, is about a Mexican immigrant in New York who returns home with his son to sort out his inheritance. While leaving his son in the care of his brother, he hears false rumors about child kidnappings.

The 17th Morelia Int’l Film Festival (FICM) runs October 18-27.



“This is Not Berlin,” Hari Sama

“Muerte al Verano,” Sebastián Padilla

“Workforce,” David Zonana

“La paloma y el lobo,” Carlos Lenin

“El paraíso de la serpiente,” Bernardo Arellano

“Polvo,” José María Yazpik

“Sanctorum,” Joshua Gil

“Territorio,” Andrés Clariond

“I’m No Longer Here,” Fernando Frías


“Bad hombres,” Juan Antonio del Monte, Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson

“Drawings Against Bullets,” Alicia Calderón

“The Guardian of Memory”,” Marcela Arteaga

“Maricarmen,” Sergio Morkin

“Niña sola,” Javier Ávila

“Oblatos, el vuelo que surcó la noche,” Acelo Ruiz Villanueva

“Retiro,” Daniela Alatorre Benard

“Uncle Yim,” Luna Marán

“Grandad,” María Sojob

“Sísifos,” Nicolás Gutiérrez Wenhammar, Santiago Mohar Volkow

“Vaquero del mediodía,” Diego Enrique Osorno

More Film

  • The Case

    Bac Films Closes Deals on Psychological Thriller 'The Case'

    Bac Films has closed several deals on Bernard Stora’s “The Case,” a psychological thriller set in the South of France starring Niels Arestrup (“At Eternity’s Gate,” “A Prophet”). The film had its market premiere at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris, a five-day showcase of French movies wrapping on Jan. 20. Arestrup stars [...]

  • #iamhere

    Gaumont Clinches Deals on French-Korean Romcom '#iamhere' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont has clinched a raft of deals on Eric Lartigau’s Korea-set romantic comedy #iamhere which had its market premiere at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French cinema in Paris. Headlined by Alain Chabat (“Valerian”) and Bae Doona (“Sense8”), the film was penned by Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain (“Sisters Brothers”). Chabat stars as a prominent French chef [...]


    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Towers Over 'Dolittle,' '1917'

    Universal’s “Dolittle” and “1917” found out what “Bad Boys” will do when they come for you at the box office. Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” the third entry in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led series, beat expectations and towered over the competition during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. “Bad Boys for Life” earned [...]

  • Charlize Theron31st Annual Producers Guild Awards,

    Charlize Theron Says Megyn Kelly's 'Bombshell' Reaction Video Was 'Really Validating'

    Charlize Theron says it was “really emotional” to watch Megyn Kelly’s half-hour response video to “Bombshell,” the Oscar-nominated feature film that depicts the sexual harassment Kelly (as played by Theron) and several other women experienced from Fox News founder Roger Ailes. The video, which Kelly posted to her YouTube Channel on Jan. 9, shows Kelly, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    '1917,' 'Succession' Among Top PGA Award Winners

    “1917” continued its string of major awards season wins on Saturday night, earning the Producers Guild of America award for best picture. Coupled with its win for best picture, drama at the Golden Globes, the WWI movie is officially the front runner for Oscar’s top prize. “It’s a film that is a tribute to all [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho, Jane Rosenthal, David

    Netflix Praised by 'The Irishman,' 'Marriage Story' Filmmakers at Producers Guild Panel

    Streaming giant Netflix received strong support from filmmakers behind “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” at the Producers Guild of America’s nominees panel on Saturday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Jane Rosenthal, one of “The Irishman” producers, said Netflix embraced the vision that she and Martin Scorsese had for the $170 million film. [...]

  • Gabriel Harel on MyFFF ‘The Night

    Gabriel Harel Discusses Dystopic Parable ‘The Night of the Plastic Bags’

    With his first short film, the animated “Yùl and the Snake,” Gabriel Harel won Europe’s Cartoon d’Or for the continent’s best animated short film, given at the 2016 Cartoon Forum in Toulouse. Now, Harel’s awaited sophomore effort, the animated “The Night of the Plastic Bags,” competes at UniFrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, and is available on a swathe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content