Mexico’s preeminent Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival (FICG) has decided to postpone its 35th edition, citing concerns from the global pandemic sparked by the COVID-19 outbreak. Fest was due to run March 20-27.
At a press conference, Jalisco governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez announced the indefinite postponement of all mass events, with soccer matches to continue without spectators.
Move follows that of Panama IFF, which was slated to run from March 26 to April 1 but postponed this year’s edition. However, the Cartagena Int’l Film Festival (FICCI) pushed through with its landmark 60th edition, running March 11-16, despite a spate of cancellations. VIP guests Werner Herzog and British producer and European Film Academy chairman Mike Downey have showed up.
Just a week before the event’s start, festival director Estrella Araiza was adamant that the festival would go on as scheduled. “The show must go on,” she insisted.
But cancellations from European and U.S. attendees began to mount. Araiza, who took over the reins just last year, probably faces one of the biggest crises the festival has ever experienced. On Twitter, Araiza said, “For our Festival, the priority is to guarantee the safety of all our guests and attendees, and given the uncertainty generated by the advance of the coronavirus in our country, the decision has been made not to continue on the scheduled dates.”
This edition’s country of honor, Peru, was supposed to send a contingent led by Pierre Emile Vandoorne, head of audiovisual at Peru’s Ministry of Culture, Peru’s economic counsel in Mexico Maria Teresa Villena, and producer Miguel Valladares of Tondero Films. However, flight cancellations forced the group to stay home.
To date, there have been only five reported COVID-19 cases in Mexico, but this is likely inaccurate.
After more than three decades, Guadalajara has grown into the biggest showcase in Mexico for homegrown films and from across Latin America, Spain and farther afield. Its industry market has blossomed into a leading venue for buyers seeking the latest regional output. Since 2018, the festival has been firmly installed in its bold new hub, the 560,000 square.feet Performing Arts Complex (CAE). Hotels are still under construction in the surrounding area.
Guadalajara native Guillermo del Toro came home that year, bearing his two Oscar awards for “The Shape of Water,” to open a new theater named after him at the CAE and to announce the Jenkins-Del Toro International Grant, a scholarship of up to $60,000 for aspiring Mexican filmmakers, to be awarded annually at FICG. El Taller de Chucho, Del Toro’s new animation center, was playing a pivotal role in supporting the festival’s competitive animation sidebar, which was also hosting workshops and sundry activities for animators.
FICG is also the setting for multiple forums, workshops, co-production and works in progress competitions and the Talents Guadalajara educational program. On its ninth year, the Premio Maguey has evolved to become Latin America’s industry’s most important event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.