"El Charro de Toluquilla"
"El Charro de Toluquilla"

The International Film Festival in Guadalajara (FICG31) celebrated its 31th anniversary this year and moved to the center of town, a move toward regaining its early luster within the galaxy of younger festivals now competing for resources in México. With its myriad of activities beyond the mere programming of films, its mentoring other festivals such as Puerto Vallarta and Oaxaca, I would give it two thumbs up.

On Friday, March 11, it announced its awards and officially announced next year’s Guest of Honor, Germany, closing with the German film, Doris Dörrie’s “Fukushima Mon Amour” (ISA: The Match Factory). This film is a deeply moving homage to the spirit of humanity, recovery and love as a German clown, played by Rosalie Thomass and her clown partners, the wonderful Moshe Cohen of San Francisco and Nami Kamata, visit the people remaining at the devastated town of Fukushima and Rosalie bonds with the last geisha of Fukushima played by the beautiful Aya Irizuki. It premiered at the Panorama of the Berlinale where Doris won the C.I.C.A.E. Award and the Heiner Carow Prize.

Official Competition Winners FICG31

Mezcal Award for Best Mexican Film to “Maquinaria Panamericana”/ “Panamerican Machinery”

Mezcal jury
 
The jury consists of 30 students from related fields from universities or major schools of Mexico, Latin American, Europe and Canada. Serving as a sort of tutor, Jose Ramon Mikelajauregui, Director of DIS was responsible for the academic program held at FICG31.

The Mezcal Award consisting of 500,000 Mexican pesos went to the director, Joaquín del Paso for “Maquinaria Panamericana”/ “Panamerican Machinery”, a portrait of an inefficient factory on the edge of Mexico City where the workers lock themselves in when the owner is found dead in the back of the warehouse and they discover he has been bankrolling the wages out of his own pocket for years.

"Maquinaria Panamericana”
"Maquinaria Panamericana”

A coproduction of Mantarraya Producciones, it also won the FIPRESCI Prize at its premiere in the Forum of the Berlinale. International sales agent (ISA) is the new Paris-based sales and co-production company Luxbox whose

co-CEO Fiorella Moretti was formerly head of sales at NDM, the Mexico City-based sales company she set up with director Carlos Reygadas and producer Jaime Romandia of Mantarraya Productions in 2012 to sell Post Tenebras Lux.

“Maquinaria Panamericana”/ “Panamerican Machinery”
“Maquinaria Panamericana”/ “Panamerican Machinery”

Co-CEO Hédi Zardi previously worked in sales for Fortissimo and went on to Unifrance, the French cinema promotions agency and then to the PR and events company Le Public Systeme, where he was in charge of industry initiatives at Marrakesh and Deauville festivals.

The pair got to know one another through Gabriel Ripstein’s “600 Miles, winner of the best first feature last year at the Berlinale, which Zardi associate produced and Moretti sold.

Special Mention  went to “Margarita” directed by Bruno Santamaría Razo

“Margarita”
“Margarita”

Infinitum Aaward Grante dby the Public, consisting of 150,000 pesos, went to " El Charro de Toluquilla" (ISA: Imcine) by José Villalobos Romero, a doc about mariachi singer Jaime Garcia Dominguez who became fascinated by the recklessness and ladies´ man lifestyle of the classic Mexican movie characters with one difference: he´s got HIV. Jaime faces an inner maturing process as he decides between keeping this lifestyle or becoming a family man. It also won the award for Best Iberoamerican Documentary  of 150,000 Mexican pesos or its equivalent in dollars to the director.

"El Charro de Toluquilla" by José Villalobos Romero
"El Charro de Toluquilla" by José Villalobos Romero

Best Latin American Fiction Film consisting of 250,000 Mexican pesos or its equivalent in dollars went to the production company of Felipe Guerrero’s film “ Oscuro animal”, about three women forced to flee their homes in a war torn region in Colombia. The film also won Best Actress Award (s) for Marleyda Soto, Luisa Galiano and Jocelyn Vides Meneses and Best Photography Award to Fernando Lockett.

A coproduction of Argentina, Greece, Netherlands, Germany and Colombia, it is being sold internationally by FiGa. It previously played in the Rotterdam Film Festival’s Tiger Competition and FICCI Cartagena 2016’s Official Dramatic Competition. At the Berlinale’s EFM 2016 it was part of the World Cinema Fund’s First Look section. Financing for the film came from Colombia’s Proimágenes, Argentina’s INCAA, Netherlands’ Hubert Bals Fund, Fundación TYPA, and Germany’s NRW and World Cinema Fund.

It also won the award for Award for Best Iberoamerican Director consisting off 150,000 Mexican pesos or its equivalent in dollars, because “almost wordlessly it portrays a complex and painful situation in Colombia which is all too common in Latin America.”

Felipe Guerrero’s “Oscuro animal”
Felipe Guerrero’s “Oscuro animal”

Special Feature Film Jury Award Iberoamerican Fiction of 125,000 Mexican pesos or its equivalent in dollars, went to the production company of “The 4th Company”/ ”La 4a Compañía” by Amir Galván Cervera and Mitzi Vanessa Arreola, based upon a true story about an underdog prison (American-style) football team that, against all odds, wins against the police force team. The jury stated that it “considers it a cinematic achievement about a shameful moment in the history of Mexico to be remembered and not to be repeated”. Adrian Thief also won for Best Actor, and he is that! There is no ISA of record, so those ISAs reading this should check it out on Cinando! It’s a seller!

"The 4th Company” by Amir Galván Cervera and Mitzi Vanessa Arreola
"The 4th Company” by Amir Galván Cervera and Mitzi Vanessa Arreola

Award for Best Latin American Film  of 125,000 Mexican pesos or its equivalent in dollars went to the superb debuting director from Puerto Rico, Angel Manuel Soto for“La Granja”/ “The Farm”. Also the first film produced independently by Tom Davia’s Cinemaven (but check out his credits!), this film is a full-circle “Crash”-style story that rivals “Gemorrah” in its look at the barrio called “The Farm” or “La Granja” in which the lives of a midwife, a young boxer, a janitor, a mute kid and a young couple collide in a story about the desperate pursuit of happiness on the mean streets of La Granja. Shot on a budget of $250,000, this film took four years to complete as the Puerto Rican government film establishment sought to block its production and release – and you can see why. It previously played in Fantastic Fest.

This is another discovery film with no ISA, and I am sure the agents have already locked their eyes upon writer-director Angel Manuel Soto. He lives in Los Angeles. “Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Son of a car salesman and a flight attendant. Studied architecture and advertising. Always loved films. Now he makes them. He is a cinephile. He travels all over the world doing it, including Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, France, USA, and Puerto Rico. He is not planning on stopping.”

Angel Manuel Soto’s “La Granja”
Angel Manuel Soto’s “La Granja”

Best Screenplay Award went to Marina Seresesky for “La Puerta Abierta”/ “Open Door” (pictured above). Marina also directed this first film. She has made two shorts previously. After FICG it will play at Sofia IFF 2016 in International Competition, San Diego Latino 2016 and Chicago Latino 2016 Film Festivals.

“La Puerta Abierta”
“La Puerta Abierta”

Movies Recommended for Selection for the Golden Globes Awards 2017 are “The 4th Company” and “Ciudades Desiertas” / “Deserted Cities” by Roberto Sneider.

“Deserted Cities” by Roberto Sneider.
“Deserted Cities” by Roberto Sneider.

Documentary Jury Special Award  of 100,000 Mexican pesos or its equivalent in dollars to the director Jorge Caballero for“Patient”/ "Paciente" ISA Rise and Shine, a new company in Germany, picked up the film at its world premiere in Competition at IDFA.

"Patient" / “Paciente”
"Patient" / “Paciente”

Best Iberoamerican Short Film Award D of 75,000 pesos or its equivalent in dollars to the directors Miguel de Olaso and Bruno Zacharias for the 10 minute short “ Los Angeles 1991”.

Miguel de Olaso and Bruno Zacharias’ “Los Angeles 1991”
Miguel de Olaso and Bruno Zacharias’ “Los Angeles 1991”

Special Mention went to “Juan's Sundown”/ "El Ocaso de Juan" by Omar Deneb Vargas Juárez 

“Juan's Sundown”/ "El Ocaso de Juan" by Omar Deneb Vargas Juárez
“Juan's Sundown”/ "El Ocaso de Juan" by Omar Deneb Vargas Juárez


Rigo Mora Award for Best Mexican Animated Short Film of 100,000 Mexican pesos went to the director Alejandro Rios for “ The Cats”/"Los Gatos." 

"The Cats”
"The Cats”

Maguey Award for best LGBT film went to "Theo et Hugo dans le meme bateau"/ "Paris 05:59" of France, directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau.
 

"Theo et Hugo dans le meme bateau"/ "Paris 05:59"
"Theo et Hugo dans le meme bateau"/ "Paris 05:59"

Special Mention went to “Neon Bull” of Brazil, directed by Gabriel Mascaro for its poetic and innovative illustrating of how traditional ideas of masculinity slowly have been made obsolete inviting us to question our own perspectives on gender bias.

Neon Bull
"Neon Bull"

After the Awards, FICG gave a great closing night party. Lots of good people, new and old friends, great salsa band, danced til 3! Here’s me with my friend David Martinez of Raindance Film Festival. Coming from Guadalajara, living in London, this year he came home with Elliot Grove of Founder and Director of Raindance, and Aaron Wileman of Imaginative Exposure who gave a Master Class on Film Funds and Product Placement.

David Martinez and Sydney Levine
David Martinez and Sydney Levine


Hugo Villa and Aaron Wileman
Hugo Villa and Aaron Wileman

And of course I presented my own book in its abridged, Spanish language format, published by the University of Guadalajara Press, Cine Iberoamerican Industria y financiamiento por pais (Iberoamerican Cinema: Industry and Financing by Country).  Read more about it here.