23rd Guadalajara Film Festival
México, March 7 - March 14 2008
In its beginning, around 20 years ago, the Guadalajara Film Festival was national, a showcase of new Mexican films. It was already then attended by critics and festival scouts. The success of Mexican films abroad started here. Over the years, the festival changed its conception (and its directors). The focus on Mexican cinema, however, was kept. A Mexican competition (both for features and documentaries) allowed an overview of recent productions, including Fernando Eimbcke’s Lake Tahoe (premiered at Berlin) and Into the Desert (Desierto adentro), the second film by Rodrigo Plá — probably the most interesting films of the season.
In recent years, the festival introduced another competition, of Ibero-American films — Latin America plus Spain and Portugal (which this year had a film in competition for the first time). Thanks to the intelligent and knowledgeable programming of Lucy Virgen, the festival became a center of the newest productions on the continent and allowed audiences to get acquainted with the best Spanish films of the season, among them Icíar Bollain’s Mataharis, a deep and emotionally touching insight into the life of three women working in a detective agency. It was in this Ibero-American competition where the jurors of FIPRESCI discovered The Path (El camino), the first film of the young Costa Rica-based Ishtar Yasin, a road movie about two children undertaking a dangerous and tiring travel from Nicaragua to Costa Rica to find their mother.
The producers Bertha Navarro (Mexico) and Lita Stantic (Argentina), as well as the filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Fernando Birri, not to forget Germán Valdés (“Tin Tan”), the comedian of classic Mexican cinema, were honored with homages. In a special screening, the Guadalajara audience could enjoy Abel Gance’s Napoléon (in the version restored by Francis Ford Coppola and the Zoetrope Studios, with music by Carmine Coppola).
Jorge Sánchez, the former Mexican producer who heads the festival, added yet another aspect. He invited the Latin American film industry to Guadalajara, organized panels on production, co-production (also with Europe), and distribution, and introduced a “visionary campus” on documentary filmmaking (which was attended by 70 young people from all over the continent). These activities were indeed attractive, not only for Latin American film people: Many Europeans came as well, including some institutions as the Berlinale Talent Campus or the European Film Promotion. One could even say that these meetings and panels almost built up another, parallel festival. Sánchez also arranged that the two main juries (on Latin American and Mexican feature films) got a wild card to nominate entries to the next Golden Globes in Los Angeles, which is a marvelous idea.
Altogether, the Guadalajara Film Festival has grown considerably and presented itself as a center of, and meeting point for, Latin American cinema. (Klaus Eder)