6 Must-See Movies at FICG in LA, the Guadalajara Film Festival’s Hollywood Takeover

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Alright Angelenos, you know the drill. Right around around this time for the past five years, the good folks at Mexico’s Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara (FICG) have packed up their world-class film event into a colorful circus caravan and braved desert heat and unpleasant border checkpoints to bring their savory official selection to SoCal audiences. Since it’s in Los Angeles, they call it FICG in LA.

At least that’s how I imagine it, but even if the process is a little more straightforward and digital, the basic idea remains the same: every year Los Angeles audiences are treated to a stellar program of Latin American cinema straight from one of Mexico’s top film festivals. This year is no exception, and FICG in L.A. will be bringing just over a dozen features and just as many shorts to Hollywood’s landmark Egyptian Theater over four days this week.

As usual, the programming will feature critical hits still making their way through this year’s festival circuit, including a number of titles that we’ve included in our film coverage over the last few months. Overall, it’s a tight and expertly-curated selection, with everything from transgender opera singers to soccer royalty, underage geniuses, and a salsa-driven descent into hell on earth. For those of you short on free time, we’ve done our usual service of picking out a few top selections for you to squeeze into your hectic schedule.

FICG in LA runs August 27 – 30, 2015. For details visit the FICG in LA website.



Karina García Casanova

Juanicas is an intimate portrait of Mexican immigrant family affected by mental illness. Using material shot over almost 10 years, filmmaker Karina Garcia Casanova documents her complex relationship with her mother and brother, both suffering from bipolar disorder. She starts filming when Juan, her brother returns to live in Canada after several years in Mexico. At first the camera provides a distance that helps them reconnect with each other, but soon old patterns returns. As her brother’s downward spiral unravels, the viewer is taken on a journey as heart-wrenching as it is illuminating

Canada, Mexico
Karina García Casanova
Karina García Casanova, Daniela Flori


¡Qué viva la música!

Carlos Moreno

Based on Colombian cult writer Andrés Caicedo’s only completed novel, ¡Qué viva la música!’s fragmented, drug-infused story follows an adolescent scion of Cali’s upper classes who embarks on a hedonistic descent from her insulated ivory tower existence into the sweaty, salsa-dancing barrios. Much like the novel, the feature film adaptation features murder, suicide, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, but more importantly, salsa. As Caicedo’s heroine affirms her existence in the face of upper class ennui, the soundtrack to her descent becomes a veritable back catalog of Fania Records classics.

Synopsis By: Andrew S. Vargas
Colombia, Mexico
Alberto Ferreras, Carlos Moreno, Alonso Torres
Rodrigo Guerrero, Andrés Calderón, Alex Garcia


Made in Bangkok

Flavio Florencio

A transgender opera singer from the state of Guanajuato takes on persistent social stigmas and the disapproval of her own family to pursue her dream of self transformation. Mexico-based Argentine director Flavio Florencio follows Morganna from their first encounter in a Mexico City cantina all the way across the world to Thailand, where she undergoes gender reassignment surgery in hopes of finally finding a body fitting for her authentic self.

Synopsis By: Andrew S. Vargas

Thailand, Germany, Mexico
Flavio Florencio
Ignacio Marcelo Vázquez, María del Carmen Rodríguez, Laura Imperiale


Hostile Border

Michael Dwyer

American filmmaker Michael Dwyer’s debut feature follows the story of Claudia, a young woman deported to Mexico after being convicted of credit card fraud in the United States. Sent to live on her estranged father’s ranch, Claudia has difficulty adapting to the way of life in a country she hardly knows. After falling in with a drug trafficker who promises to smuggle her back into the United States, Claudia finds herself caught up in a dangerous and complex web of betrayal and deception that will pit her own selfish needs against those of her family.

Synopsis By: Andrew S. Vargas

United States
Western, Thriller
Kaitlin McLaughlin
Alicia Dwyer, Kathleen Dwyer



Álex de la Iglesia

In this documentary, Spanish master genre director Álex de la Iglesia takes on one of contemporary soccer’s most consecrated players, mixing archival footage, interviews, and dramatic reenactments to paint a picture of a sometimes polemical figure known for his reticence in front of the cameras. From his humble beginnings in Argentina, to his growth defect and expensive hormonal treatment, de la Iglesia traces the career trajectory of one of the beautiful game’s true artists.

Synopsis By: Andrew S. Vargas

Jorge Valdano
Jaume Roures


El Jeremías

Anwar Safa

A young boy of humble origins begins a process of self-reflection after learning that he qualifies as a genius. His greatest concern? What to be when he grows up. Albert Einstein? Jim Morrison? Alan Turing? Along the way, he must deal with his not-so-genius family’s inability to understand his exceptional gifts.

Synopsis By: Andrew S. Vargas

Comedy, Drama
Ana Sofía Clerici
Tita Lombardo, Alejandro Safa, Anwar Safa, Mónica Lozano