Art and Experience: First-time filmmakers took home the top prizes this year at the 14th Morelia Int’l Film Fest, which held its awards ceremony Saturday, Oct. 29.
Diego Ros’ “El Vigilante” (“The Night Guard”) won the Ojo Stella Artois prize for Best Mexican Movie, while Federico Cecchetti snagged the Best First or Second Film Award for “El Sueno del Mara’akame.” (“Mara’akame’s Dream”). At the awards gala, Cecchetti thanked Mexico’s indigenous communities “who were the heart of this film.”
Meanwhile, Leonardo Alonso won Best Actor for his role in “El Vigilante,” where he plays a night guard at a construction site who sneaks off to deal with some urgent matter, but gets caught up in a series of odd situations. Prior to making his feature debut, Ros has worked as a TV editor and in post-production, collaborating on more than a dozen pics. Cecchetti helmed a series of shorts and a doc, participating in Cannes’ Cinefondation’s Residence with one of his shorts. “Mara’akame’s Dream” tracks a young Huichol native who is caught between the wishes of his traditional father and his dream to play with his band in Mexico City.
The best actress award went to Adriana Barraza, who was shortlisted for a supporting actress Oscar for her role in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Babel,” for her performance in Natalia Almada’s “Todo lo demas” (“Everything Else”).
In the documentary competition, newcomer Maria Jose Cuevas’ nabbed the Best Documentary prize for her feature debut “Bellas de Noche” (“Beauties of the Night”), a moving portrait of the leading showgirls of Mexico in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Cuevas also won a plaudit for the best documentary made by a woman. Tatiana Huezo’s “Tempestad,” which has been winning a string of awards since its Impulso Morelia presentation last year, garnered a special mention and an audience award.
More seasoned filmmakers won in the shorts competitions with Alonso Ruizpalacios (“Gueros”) scooping best fiction short for his taut drama “Verde” (“Green”); stop-motion animation maestro Leon Fernandez took best animated short for his dark fairytale “Taller de Corazones” (“The Heart Workshop”); and renowned artist Rodrigo Imaz received a kudo for his docu short “Juan Perros.”
Michoacan competition victors included Heriberto Guzman’s “La Tia Celeste,” which won the Premio Hermanos Alva, and Kevin Guzman’s walking off with the Premio Especial I.SAT for “Itaca,” among others.
The Premio Guerrero, granted by accredited press in the festival, went to Amat Escalante’s “The Untamed,” already a Venice best director winner, for best fiction feature and to “Bellas de Noche” for best docu.
As always the festival, headed by Daniela Michel, has been a strong showcase for newcomers and was inundated with shorts as well as features.
“All in all, we received up to 800 submissions: 550 shorts, 100 fiction features and 160 documentaries,” said Cinepolis CEO Alejandro Ramirez, whose exhibition-distribution company is the primary backer of the fest.
The second edition of Impulso Morelia, the festival’s works-in-progress program, doled out several awards to pics in either development or post-production.
Everardo Gonzalez’s harrowing docu “La Libertad del Diablo” took home a distribution deal and P&A guarantee from Cinepolis, and post-production services from Carlos Reygadas’ Splendor Omnia. Joshua Gil’s docu-fiction film in development won a $10,000 cash prize and a year’s mentorship from the Tribeca Film Institute; Marta Hernaiz was awarded a 200,000 peso cash prize from the festival towards post-production of “La Caotica Vida de Nada,” and Trisha Ziff snagged a 150,000 peso cash prize for the development of her immigrant docu “Oaxacalifornia, el retorno.”
The Morelia Film Festival is now in the enviable position of having grown beyond the city’s capacities, as it is full-to-bursting with more premieres, daily red carpet events and more celebrities. “We are planning to open more screening spaces in the downtown area, as the magic of this festival is being able to walk everywhere,” said Ramirez.
The 14th Morelia Int’l Film Festival runs Oct. 21-30
14th MORELIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, 2016
LIST OF WINNERS:
STELLA ARTOIS BEST FILM
“El Vigilante,” (Diego Ros)
BEST FIRST OR SECOND FILM
“El Sueno del Mara’akame,” (Federico Cecchetti)
Adriana Barraza (“Todo lo Demas”)
Leonardo Alonso for “El Vigilante”
SPECIAL MENTION IN DIRECTING
Natalia Almada (“Todo lo Demas”)
“The Darkness,” (Daniel Castro Zimbron)
“Bellas de Noche” (Maria Jose Cuevas)
BEST MEXICAN DOCUMENTARY BY A WOMAN
“Bellas de Noche” (Maria Jose Cuevas)
“Tempestad” (Tatiana Huezo)
“Resurrection” (Eugenio Polgovsky)
SHORTS AND ANIMATION
RENTA IMAGEN SPECIAL PRIZE
“Aurelia y Pedro,” (Omar Robles and Jose Permar)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“Taller de Corazones,”(Leon Fernandez)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“Juan Perros” (Rodrigo Imaz)
BEST FICTION SHORT
“Verde” (Alonso Ruizpalacios)
ONLINE COMPETITION WINNER
“Elena y las Sombras,” (Cesar Cepeda)
“El Silencio de Dios” (Cristina Bustamante)
PREMIO HERMANOS ALVA AWARD
“La Tia Celeste,” (Heriberto Guzman)
“La Tia Celeste”
SPECIAL I.SAT PRIZE
“Itaca,” (Kevin Guzman)
“Motel de los Corazones Rotos,” (Bernardo Rugama)
PREMIO HERMANOS ALVA AWARD FOR A SHORT FILM
“Esto es lo que me toco,” (Alexa Gutierrez)