In a ceremony marked by laughter, tears, a lot of hugs and a celebration of a return to watching films al vivo, the 36th Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) came to a close with the presentation of a long list of prizes to some of Latin America’s top filmmakers, many whose names are well-known in Mexico and across the region and many whose names will, no doubt, be well-known in the future.
In a contradiction fit for the movies, Rodrigo Guardiola and Gabriel Nuncio’s “The Comedian,” a film all about failure, took top honors as this year’s best Mexican film in competition with cinematographer Mario Secco scooping the best cinematography prize for his work on the film.
“It’s wonderful that this movie exists,” said Nuncio at the ceremony. “The truth is, I got to work with very talented people on this movie and I think that’s the only reason I’m up here. And I hope they put this video on YouTube because I want to dedicate this award to my mother.”
This year’s Audience Award went to “Poderoso Victoria” by Raúl Ramón, a turn-of-the-century period drama about a mining town in decline.
“Actually making films in Mexico, and even more so in this last stage of the pandemic, has put us in an unprecedented situation,” said Ramón. “I can only thank the FICG for recognizing the work of our team. I thank my team for the support and for the passion that they have put into this film since it was written, filmmed and released. Hopefully we will return to the movie theaters soon!”
Lead actors Ilse Salas and Fernando Xavier de Casta took the nights top acting prizes for their work in Abner Benaim’s “Plaza Catedral,” The gut-punch drama turns on Alicia, mourning the loss of her 13-year-old son in an accident, who is approached by a witty teen named Chief who pressures her to pay protection money for him to watch her car. She does her best to avoid the young man, until he shows up at her door with a gunshot wound.
Tragically, the non-professional actor who played Chief was killed in an act of gang violence only months before the film’s premiere, meaning that Benaim had to step in and tearfully accept the recognition on the young man’s behalf.
Animated feature “My Sunny Maad” continued its run of fine form, taking the prize for Best International Animated Feature, having previously scored the Jury Award at Annecy, the world’s most prestigious animation festival held in June. Brazilian claymation feature “Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People,” another Annecy standount, also scored an honerable mention.
Attendance and participation in the festival, Latin America’s largest and one of its most prestigious, represented a significant increase over last year’s Covid-battered festival. Next year’s edition promises to be bigger still and with an even larger industry contingent as work is well underway on a new facility to house a larger film market for buyers, sellers, and regional film commissions and production houses.
The awards ceremony was followed by the Mexican premiere of two episodes of the upcoming animated Netflix release “Maya and the Three,” presented by creator-showrunner Jorge Gutierrez, who also hosted a masterclass at this year’s festival.