Jean-Marc Vallee, Joan Darling Chosen as Mentors for Mexico’s 5th Annual Careyes Creation Lab

Jean-Marc Vallee71st Annual Directors Guild of
Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

Kicking off its 5th year, the Careyes Creation Lab, an offshoot of the Arte Careyes Film Festival, is set to run March 18-22, providing an immersive workshop experience in which a select group of rising Mexican filmmakers are guided by renowned mentors in exercises designed to hone and shape their craft.

This year’s mentors, Oscar-nominated director Jean-Marc Vallee (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Emmy-winning director Joan Darling (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”), will tutor a slate of participants including directors Joaquín del Paso (“Maquinaria Panamericana”), Marcelo Tobar (“Oso Polar”) and Cristina Gallego (“Birds of Passage”) and actors Hoze Meléndez, Verónica Toussaint, Osvaldo Benavides and Johanna Murillo. All directors have films screening in Arte Careyes, which dovetails with the lab, taking place March 20-24. Past mentors of the lab have included John Cooper, Jim Stark, Jim Sheridan, Darling and Pavel Pawlikowski.

Taking place in a private home in Careyes, Mexico, the lab is produced in partnership with the Careyes Foundation, led by founder and president Filippo Brignone, the Ingmar Bergman Chair at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Cinema23 Iberoamerican Film Association, and the Morelia International Film Festival. Marina Stavenhagen, Arte Careyes film and arts festival curator, hand-picks the participants. The vibe of the five-day lab is laid-back and intimate, encouraging and fostering relationships between mentors and mentees that will flourish over a lifetime of working together and making art in the entertainment industry.

“Careyes is unique,” says Stark, producers of films such as “Mystery Train,” “Night on Earth” and “Coffee and Cigarettes. “It is very small — a couple of hundred guests in total. The setting is spectacular: gorgeous houses along a breathtaking stretch of the Pacific Ocean. Most important for people interested in making films, it attracts A-list guests as well as some of the best of the new generation of Mexican actors, directors and producers and everyone is easily accessible. It is a place that organically encourages networking, communication and collaboration. I have personally started working together with at least four filmmakers on their projects after meeting them in Careyes.”

Darling, who’s returning for her third time as a mentor, likens the lab experience to “A family who share a love for [the filmic] art form.”

“To give you an idea of the level of the talent involved in the workshop, one morning as I was teaching, one of the students raised his hand and apologized for interrupting the class,” she recalls. “‘Breaking news’ he said. ‘Three of the people in our workshop were just nominated for a Mexican Academy Award.’’ I found it a worthy interruption.”