Mexico’s Guadalajara Animation Competitions Go Global

In a year of change and growth for Mexico’s Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG), the revamped animation competitions, godfathered by Guadalajara native Guillermo del Toro, stand out as key examples of ambitions shared by the event’s new leadership, headed by Vendo Cine co-founder and longtime FICG Industria head Estrella Araiza.

Where many animation-focused festivals and awards programs in Latin America tend to celebrate domestic or Ibero-American productions – think Mexico’s Pixelatl, Spain’s Quirino Awards – this year’s selected films at Guadalajara demonstrate a global inclusion with less peers – France’s Annecy Festival and Los Angeles’ Annie Awards are good examples.

“I think it’s important that every festival has its idiosyncrasies,” explained Carolina López, FICG’s animation section curator. “FICG is a festival with a specific DNA and we are adding to that DNA with what will be almost a festival within a festival.”

Previously FICG did have a dedicated prize for the best Mexican animated short, but nothing dedicated to features. 2019 will see the addition of a feature section while the Rigo Mora shorts competition has gone international.

“This year’s selections, with the sponsorship of Guillermo del Toro, have given the animation section a more global vision and desire to inspire creation that already exists in the Mexican industry,” López said of the changes.

“The section will defend the values that FICG has always stood for: the creativity of auteur cinema, promoting Ibero-American productions, diversity in cinema and building bridges between Mexico and the world,” she continued. “The long-term idea is to generate collaboration flows between not just other Latin American countries, but the rest of the world.”

Among the favorites in any competition in which it participates, Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow’s “Another Day of Life,” will have its Mexican premiere, and has already scored best animated feature wins at the European Animation Awards and Spanish Academy Goyas and a San Sebastian Festival Audience Award. Based on the Ryszard Kapuscinski book of the same name, the film follows the reporter deep into the quagmire of Angolan civil war after Portugal pulled out of the former colony in 1975. His horror, graphically recounted, shaped his whole career.

Two other Spanish co-productions will make their Mexican debuts: Fermín Muguruza’s “Black is Beltza” and Salvador Simó’s “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles.” The former, turning on a Spanish parade participant who visits a racially-charged NYC in 1965, received a Spanish Gaudí Award nomination and impressed at last year’s Annecy.

The later, describing how Buñuel made 1933’s “Land Without Bread,” with which he found his creative voice, scored best animated feature nods at the Miami Film Festival and is nominated for the upcoming Quirino Awards.

Another highlight is Denis Do’s Annecy best feature film Cristal winner “Funan.” The France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cambodia co-production recounts the hyper-violent early years of the Khmer Rouge revolution in 1975, seen through the eyes of Chou a woman, mother and wife who is relocated to a forced labor camp.

From Japan, Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai” has dazzled everywhere it’s screened, scored best animated feature nominations at the Oscars and Golden Globes and won the Annie for best feature.

Gustavo Steinberg, Gabriel Bitar and André Catoto co-directed the Brazilian feature “Tito and the Birds.” A standout at the 2017 Annecy Works in Progress, the finished film wowed in competition there last year and was later nominated at the Annies for best independent animated feature. The impressionist-styled feature examines how fear-mongering media can affect children and adults alike.

Kaspar Jancis’s “Captain Morten and the Spider Queen” is pan-European stop-motion featuring a young boy, Morten, who is shrunk down and forced to survive in an inch-high world. Guadalajara will host the film’s Latin American premiere.

“The Tower,” from Mats Grorud, world premiered and had eyes watering at last year’s Annecy. The film turns on Wardi, an eleven-year-old Palestinian girl born and raised in a refugee camp, and her desire to hold on to a family legacy after four generations of exile.

Carlos Gutiérrez is the likely home-town favorite with his feature “Day of the Dead,” as it’s the only Mexican film in the feature competition. Revolving around the popular Mexican holiday the film, which opens the festival on Friday night, follows a young orphan girl on a day when the world is focused on their ancestry.

ANIMATED FEATURE COMPETITION

“Another Day of Life,” (Raúl de la Fuente, Damian Nenow, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Hungary)

“Black is Beltza,” (Fermín Muguruza, Spain)

“Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles,” (Salvador Simó, Spain, Netherlands)

“Captain Morten and the Spider Queen,” (Kaspar Jancis, Estonia, Ireland, Belgium, United Kingdom)

“Day of the Dead,” (Carlos Gutiérrez, Mexico)

“Funan,” (Denis Do, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cambodia)

“Mirai,” (Mamoru Hosoda, Japan)

“Tito and the Birds,” (Gustavo Steinberg, Gabriel Bitar, André Catoto, Brazil)

“The Tower,” (Mats Grorud, Norway, France, Sweden)

 RIGO MORA ANIMATED SHORT FILM COMPETITION

“IV. Impermanence,” (Andrea Robles Jiménez, Mexico)

“Agouro,” (David Doutel, Vasco Sá, Portugal, France)

“The Proposal,” (Gerlando Infuso, Belgium)

“Bauvre,” (Donato Sansone, France)

“Carlotta’s Face,” (Valentin Riedl, Frédéric Schuld, Germany)

“Between the Shadows,” (Mónica Santos, Alice Guimarães, Portugal, France)

“Am I a Wolf?” (Amir Houshang Moein, Iran)

“Guaxuma,” (Nara Normande, Brazil, France)

“A Tiger with no Stripes,” (Raúl “Robin” Morales, France, Switzerland)

“Monster’s Playground,” (Darcy Prendergast, Seamus Spilsbury, Australia)

“Muedra,” (César Díaz Meléndez, Spain)

“My Little Goat,” (Tomoki Misato, Japan)

“The Boy and the Owl,” (Mário Gajo de Carvalho, Portugal)

“Waste Objects,” (Luis Rentería, Mexico, Spain)

“Riviera,” (Jonas Schloesing, France)

“Mum’s the Word,” (Khris Cembe, Spain, France)

“Who Are You?” (Julio Pot, Chile)

“And That is How the Rivers Came to Be,” (Miguel Araoz Cartagena, Peru)

"Dia de Muertos" by Carlos Gutierrez
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