This year was supposed to be a big one for Ambulante, the roving documentary film festival founded by Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna. Committed to showcasing some of the best nonfiction filmmaking around the world to communities all over Mexico — often staging screenings in underserved communities all the while using documentaries to spark necessary conversations about social justice — Ambulante has become a Mexican institution. In 2020, it would have celebrated it 15th anniversary. Alas, as with other film festivals like SXSW and Tribeca, Ambulante was forced to scrap their initial plans and figure out a way to keep its spirit alive in the middle of a pandemic. During a press conference (via Zoom, of course), Luna and García Bernal were joined by the fest’s director, Paulina Suárez. Together, they announced the launch of Ambulante en Casa, a digital version of the fest.
Citing the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in, both Luna and García Bernal stressed how important it is to support the kind of cinema Ambulante puts forward. But, more to the point, they noted how crucial it was for them to try to replicate the festival spirit, now in an online-only way. Thus, they announced that during the monthlong fest, they will be hosting one documentary a day, making it available at midnight and then hosting Q & As, panels and forums tied to each one during the day and into the evenings.
Boasting 66 films from 25 different countries (including 24 from Mexico alone), Ambulante en Casa hopes you spend your self-isolation time pondering about the big issues that these documentary films tackle. All of these documentaries reflect on a world that was put on pause, but that doesn’t mean their subjects have lost their urgency.
Opening the festival is Juliana Fanjul’s Silencio Radio, which follows the story of Carmen Aristegui, a journalist whose dogged pursuit of a corruption story leads her to becoming a beacon for the important of a free press. Other projects include Ai Weiwei’s Mexico-set Vivos, Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside family portrait América, Andrés Di Tella’s photo album doc Ficción privada and Marcelo Gomes’s denim-factory film Estou me guardando para quando o carnaval chegar.
The entire roster of films will be made available for free — for anyone accessing the films in Mexico. But, as Gael put it during the press conference, he knows that there are enough tech savvy cinephiles all over the world who’ll be able to figure out a way around that. Thankfully, all the forums and public events will available to anyone, regardless of where they’re at.
Check out the full Ambulante en Casa announcement below.
Ambulante en Casa runs April 28 — May 29, 2020