Like many of its counterparts worldwide, the Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival (FICG), Mexico’s largest film festival, faced the quandary of whether to go online, reschedule or cancel altogether because of the pandemic.

It opted for a rescheduled hybrid 35th edition which would serve those either unable or afraid to travel and those without an internet connection in Mexico.

“We struck a deal with Canal 44 to have them air some of our films,” said festival director Estrella Araiza, who is adamant that despite the challenges and complications, the film community will prevail in the end. “We have to believe in cinema,” she declared. Outdoor screenings and restricted indoor cinema screenings are on the schedule while most of the master classes and conferences are online.

FICG was pushed from its traditional March dates to the fall, where it’s now been running over Nov. 20-27.

Its inauguration on Friday Nov. 20 at the Telmex Auditorium, which normally holds 5,000, allowed only an audience of 500. Sally Potter’s “The Roads Not Taken” opened the festival, with Peru featured as its guest country of honor. The storied career of Peru’s most prominent director, Francisco Lombardi, was recognized with an Ibero-American Mahayuel  award. “Peruvian cinema has achieved interesting growth in recent years, with the emergence of young filmmakers who have allowed a significant presence in some of the most important film festivals,” said Lombardi, citing the creation of a Culture Ministry and technological advancements as drivers of Peru’s cinematic evolution.

Speaking at the inauguration, Raul Padilla, chairman of the FICG Board of Trustees, said: “The world has changed, we are convinced that we must imagine and promote new forms for the creation and full enjoyment of the Seventh Art with the conviction and responsibility to protect the health of all.”

“We have an excellent line-up this year; these are films that have been in San Sebastian, Cannes, Venice,” Araiza told Variety.

FICG 35’s Ibero-American feature competition showcases some standouts from across the region, including Jayro Bustamante’s political-horror drama “La Llorona,” representing Guatemala at the Oscars in April; “The Thief’s Daughter” which garnered a best actress win for lead Greta Fernandez in San Sebastian; the latest from Chile’s multi-awarded Andres Wood, “Spider” and Bolivian Rodrigo Bellot’s LA Outfest winner, “Tu Me Manques.” Peruvian brothers Daniel and Diego Vega compete with one of their latest collaborations, “The Clash” (“La Bronca”).

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FICG Opening Night © FICG / Gonzalo Garcia

Among the 11 Ibero-American documentaries in competition are Chilean Maite Alberdi’s popular San Sebastian winner “The Mole Agent,” Carolina Corral’s harrowing docu “To See You Again” about Mexican mothers forced to learn forensic work as they exhume the bodies of their murdered children, buried by complicit authorities; and Helena Taberna’s “Stranded” (“Varados”), about the thousands of stranded refugees in Greece.

FICG is also hosting Un Festival Mexicano where six of Mexico’s most prominent film festivals banded together for a mostly in-person event during the fest. Ambulante, DocsMX, Monterrey, Los Cabos, and Guanajuato integrated part of their programming with FICG’s on-site program. Guanajuato was the first film festival in Latin America to host an avatar-based virtual event last summer.

In other news, Maria Novaro, director of Mexican Film Institute Imcine, presided over the org’s annual presentation, albeit online. Novaro reassured the Mexican film community that Imcine would be handling a new subsidy program next year to replace the incentives which were either pared or shut down by the government.

Here are the Ibero-American films in competition:

Ibero-American Fiction

“August,” Armando Capó Ramos (Cuba, Costa Rica, France)

“Spider,” Andrés Wood (Chile, Argentina, Brazil)

“The Clash,” Daniel Vega and Diego Vega (Peru, Colombia)

“The Ghosts,” Sebastián Lojo (Guatemala, Argentina)

“Son of Ox,” Haroldo Borges (Brazil)

“La Fortaleza,” Jorge Thielen Armand (Venezuela, France, Netherlands, Colombia)

“The Thief’s Daughter,” Belén Funes (Spain)

“Maternal,” Maura Delpero (Argentina, Italy)

“Out in the Open,” Benito Zambrano (Spain)

“Karnawal,” Juan Pablo Félix (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, México, Norway, Bolivia, France)

“La Llorona,” Jayro Bustamante (Guatemala, France)

“Los Lobos,” Samuel Kishi (Mexico)

“Piola,” Luis Alejandro Pérez (Chile)

“Tu Me Manques,” Rodrigo Bellott (Bolivia, U.S.)

 Ibero-American Documentaries

“In a Whisper,” Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez Fernández (Cuba, Spain, France, Switzerland)

“Moving so Slowly,” Natalia Solórzano (Costa Rica)

“Brouwer, The Origin of the Shadow,” Katherine T. Gavilán and Lisandra López Fabé (Cuba)

“The Song of the Butterflies,” Núria Frigola (Peru)

“Blue Breath,” Rodrigo Areias (Portugal, France, Finland)

“Inland,” Juan Palacios (Spain)

“My Dear Supermarket,” Tali Yankelevich (Brazil)

“The White Myth,” Gabriel Serra (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico)

“The Second Burial of Alejandrino,” Raúl Soto (Colombia)

“This Film is About Me,” Alexis Delgado Búrdalo (Spain)

“Stranded,” Helena Taberna (Spain)