The 33th annual Guadalajara Film Festival opens next week, bringing hundreds of films, industry professionals, press and public together in a week-long celebration of cinema.
The key players in the Latin American film industry come to Guadalajara each year to wheel and deal and review the latest films. This, far more than the infrequent red carpet appearance from a major celebrity, has cemented the success of the event, which runs this year from March 9-16.
Celebrity in the film world at the current moment, however, comes no bigger than hometown hero Guillermo del Toro, who this year will grace the festival to open a new movie theater named after him.
Whether the director of “The Shape of Water” will bring any glittering Oscars in his luggage on his trip back home is another matter – that will be decided March 4 at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Del Toro’s highly rated fantasy flick has garnered 13 nominations, including Best Director.
FICG Director Iván Trujillo this week confirmed that the celebrated director will be on hand on Friday, March 9 to inaugurate the new Cineteca Guillermo del Toro in the University of Guadalajara’s recently opened Conjunto de Artes Escenicas. The new cultural complex will screen many of the festival’s films, as will the Sania (Vallarta and Juan Palomar y Arias) and Sao Paolo (Americas and Valparaiso) Cinemex theaters, as well as the Universidad de Guadalajara (UdG) Cineforo venue (Juarez and Enrique Diaz de Leon).
Since its modest beginnings as a tiny university-sponsored showcase for Mexican cinema, the event has morphed into a monster on the Latin American fest circuit. As with the annual book fair, the support from the UdG has been pivotal and the festival has provided a platform for up-and-coming filmmakers such as del Toro, whose short “Dona Lupe” was shown at the festival’s first edition in 1985.
The region of Catalonia takes the honor of guest country this year, and will bring around 20 official selections to the event. The feature “Tierra Firme” (“Anchor and Hope”) directed by Catalonian Carlos Marqués-Marcet, with Oona Chaplin, Natalia Tena and Geraldine Chaplin, opens the festival at the Auditorio Telmex March 9.
Trujillo does not rule out the possibility that manifestations regarding the delicate political situation in Catalonia could dominate discussions at this year’s festival. Last year, commentary on the fledgling Trump presidency captured many of the headlines from the event.
The festival showcases a huge array of feature, documentary and short films, with official festival selections competing in five categories: Premio Mezcal (best Mexican film), Best Iberoamerican Feature, Best Iberoamerican Documentary, Best Iberoamerican Short Film and Best Mexican Short Animated Film.
Prize money up for grabs is not to be sneered at. The Premio Mezcal will earn the winning production team $US27,000, while the audience award for best Mexican flick is worth $US5,000.
Eight films will play at the Teatro Diana for benefit gala events, wherein celebrities and special guests appear on the red carpet and money from the elevated ticket prices (110 pesos) goes toward different charities. Selections are “Hochelaga, Terre Des Âmes,” March 10, 5 p.m.; “El Año De La Plaga,” March 10, 9 p.m.; “Tuya Mía, Te La Apuesto,” March 11, 5 p.m. ;“Stuck” (English language), March 11, 9 p.m.; “Inquilinos,” March 12, 5 p.m.; “The Nile Hilton Incident” (Winner Grand Jury Prize Sundance 2017), March 12, 9 p.m.; “Miss Dalí,” March 13, 9 p.m. and “Mi Gran Noche,” March 15, 5 p.m.
“Miss Dalí,” starring British actresses Claire Bloom and Siân Phillips, is directed by Catalonian director Ventura Pons, who will be an honoree during FICG 33.
For the seventh consecutive year, the festival will showcase films whose narratives reveal an open sexuality, a cinema of acceptance towards sexual diversity. The best film in this category will be presented with the Maguey Award.
As well as the aforementioned venues, various other locations host FICG events that include master classes by film industry professionals, round-table discussions, conferences and more.
For FICG details, see the extensive website at ficg.mx. The full program of films had not been released at press time, but should be available on the website sometime early next week.