FICG Diaries Part 1: Lots of Tequila & Celebrities at Guadalajara Film Fest Opening Night Gala

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Okay, so I had heard a lot about the Guadalajara International Film Festival (known as FICG for its initials in Spanish), but I had never actually been to the fest before this year. Oh boy. To explain, allow me to use a cooking analogy: take a big pot, throw in a chispito of perfect spring weather, bring to a simmer, add filmmakers, actors, musicians, writers and all sorts of creative folks from all over the world. Stir. Season with a selection of hundreds of films from Chile to the Czech Republic. Serve warm with tequila and lots of picante. Et voila.

Of course, as in my case sometimes this powerful concoction can put you in bed for a few days with a little something called Moctezuma’s Revenge but given that the festival’s barely halfway over, I’ll gladly take the hit. Well, maybe not gladly.

Things kicked off informally last Thursday with a small private party for Talents Guadalajara where the future of Latin American cinema showed off their distinct cultural variations on the art of perreo and got generally freaky on the dance-floor. Then came the star-studded red-carpet inauguration at the massive Telmex Auditorium, featuring acting heavyweights like Kate del Castillo, Elpidia Carrillo and the beloved vedette of Mexican golden-age cinema, María Victoria. The latter two, along with Irish director Jim Sheridan (The Boxer, In America, and, yes, Get Rich or Die Tryin) and deceased actress Sara García (every Mexican movie ever), received special awards at the gala event honoring their career trajectories.

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Carrillo gave a particularly impassioned acceptance speech, lamenting the violence in her home-state of Michoacán and dedicating her award to, “Las madres de Michoacán” to a standing ovation. Things swung to the other extreme when Jim Sheridan stepped up red-faced to the podium and rambled on in English for several minutes, shouting out to Guinness and José Clemente Orozco before pausing to allow the interpreter to translate. “I’m very proud to be here,” was her succinct interpretation.

Understandably, the crowd burst out laughing. Even someone who didn’t speak a lick of English could appreciate the disparity, and soon the interpreter herself was doubled over with the giggles. And it didn’t stop there. Quebecois director Louise Archambault and company stepped up to the stage to present their opening-night film Gabrielle, but were soon reduced to hysterical laughter for reasons that still escape me. Several minutes later, Archambault and her interpreter were able to collect themselves enough to out least get out the requisite “thank yous” and allow the projectionist to roll the film.

A variation on our little recipe: substitute tequila for mineral water before important gala events.

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With all that being said, there’s still plenty more to come on the films that make these events slightly more serious. Though, I’ll make brief mention of local Tapatía (that is, from Guadalajara) animator, Sofía Carrillo, who directed the beautiful publicity spot embedded above and whose short film El Corazón del Sastre is sure to be a contender for the festival’s venerable Premio Mezcal, whose winners will be announced on Sunday.

Until the next dispatch. Over and out.