LOS CABOS — “The Twentieth Century,” Matthew Rankin’s crazed retelling of Canadian history, won the main Los Cabos Competition this Saturday, beating out a prestige lineup of some of the most notable festival standouts of the year.
The win at Los Cabos, whose competition is focused on movies from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, adds to “The Twentieth Century’s” Toronto Best Canadian First Feature prize for a feature made with high style, shot like 1940s melodrama, with a box-like Academy ratio.
Mexico Primero, a showcase of first or second-time Mexican features, was won by “The Dove and the Wolf,” the feature debut of Carlos Lenin, which world premiered at this year’s Locarno Film Festival in Filmmakers of the Present. A young couple love story, “The Dove and the Wolf” is distinguished by its context, a grimy small town assailed by cartel violence, and its unyielding use of static camera sequence shots which symbolically trap its young working class protagonists.
Two prime prizes in Mexico Primero – its Audience Award and
Art Kingdom award – were won by “Birdwatching,” a Los Cabos world premiere marking the second fiction feature of Mexican-Canadian Andrea Martínez Crowther after her feature debut, “Cosas insignificantes,” executive produced by Guillermo del Toro.
In industry prizes, the biggest winner in films in development, scooping two kudos, was “Hurricane Season,” the latest link-up between Mexican production powerhouse Woo Films and a distinguished Mexican woman filmmaker after Natalia Beristáin’s “The Eternal Feminine” and Alejandra Marquez’s “The Good Girls,” “Hurricane Season” marks a big step-up for Mexico’s Elisa Miller, director of the 2007 Cannes Palme d’Or-winning short “Ver Llover” and admired 2008 debut “Alicia, Go Yonder,” an adaptation of Fernanda Melchor’s fiction work of the same name, greeted by critics with a rare unanimity as the great Mexican novel of 2017.
A forceful portrait of a village’s dirt poverty, bigotry, pervasive gender abuse, violence and carnal appetites, “Hurricane Season” looks set to confirm Miler’s emergence as not only an auteur but director of large style.
Two other big wins – Cannes Marché du Film Award and the newly-created Piano Award, granted by the Mexican production-distribution house, went respectively to Andrés Kaiser’s “Precious Blood” and producer Nicole Maynard and Mauricio Calderón Rico’s “All the Fires.”
“Precious Blood” represents Mexican director Kaiser and producer Maynard’s follow-up to Los Cabos Mexican film winner “Feral” and another horror thriller, this time set in 18th century about a nun who claims to have visions of the devil and be witness to serial murders.
Produced by Daniel Loustaunau, “All the Fires,” a section favorite, is a coming of age story of a young pyromanic who, disavowing his homosexuality, leaves home after his mother takes a lover, lights fires as a cry for help.
The major Works in Progress” Award went to one of the frontrunners for many attendees, Helmut Dosantos’ singular “Gods of Mexico” a documentary feature composed of extraordinary collage of rural scenes, immaculately composed and some shot black-and-white. These capture millennial rites – a Devil’s Dance, for example – and, far more damningly, labor practices – salt pans and a furnace – and living conditions which still haven’t changed in centuries. Such is Mexican life far from the cosmopolitan globalized world, one sequence description suggests.
“Flora y Fauna, “ the ninth fiction feature from Nicolas Pereda (“Perpetuum Mobile”), nabbed a Cinecolor Mexico Prize.
Some way from completion, and punching way above its weight in the final force of its narrative, compared to its budget, the benighted hamlet tale, mixing a downbeat family reunion drama framing a hair-raising if nominally fictional abduction tale, portrays a Mexico whose reality and imagination has been eviscerated by its drug wars and violence.
The second feature from Bruno Santamaría Razo, sitting on the borderlands between documentary and violence, took the tale of a gay teen’s in a village ravaged by homophobia and homicide, which makes his decision to come out all the more courageous and affecting.
2019 8TH LOS CABOS INTL. FILM FESTIVAL PRIZEWINNERS
LOS CABOS COMPETITION
“The Twentieth Century,” Matthew Rankin, Canada
“The Dove and the Wolf,” Carlos Lenin
CINEMEX AUDIENCE AWARD
“Birdwatching,” Andrea Martínez Crowther
ART KINGDOM TRAILER PRIZE
GABRIEL FIGUEROA FILM FUND AWARDS
WORK IN PROGRESS AWARDS
LOS CABOS WORK IN PROGRESS AWARD
“Gods of Mexico,” Helmut Dosantos, Mexico
CHEMISTRY + DISRUPTIVA FILM & SOUND AWARD
“Things We Never Dare to Do,” Bruno Santamaría Razo, Mexico
CINECOLOR MEXICO AWARD
“Flora y Fauna,” Nicolás Pereda, Mexico
FILM IN DEVELOPMENT AWARDS
MARCHE DU FILM AWARD
“Precious Blood,” Andrés Kaiser, México
“All of the Fires,” Mauricio Calderón Rico, Canada
CTT EXP & RENTALS AWARD
“Hurricane Season,” Elisa Miller, Mexico
TALENT ON THE ROAD/ WORLD TALENT HOUSE AWARD
TV SERIES IN DEVELOPMENT
CTT EXP & RENTALS AWARD
“Mother Dough,” Mercedes Córdova, Argentina
ART KINGDOM PROMO TRAILER AWARD
“My Insides are the Strangest and Most Beautiful Thing in the World,” Nicolas Ruiz, Mexico
CINECOLOR MÉXICO TV TRÁILER AWARD
“Aventureology,” Ricardo Castro, Mexico
LOS CABOS INTERNATIONAL STAR AWARD
3RD FILM CRITICS AWARD