Magazine article Variety

Morelia Opens Up to New Experiences

Magazine article Variety

Morelia Opens Up to New Experiences

Article excerpt

Competition welcomes seasoned helmers and large industry contingent

Anew rule allowing more experienced directors into competition has cinephiles buzzing ahead of the 11th Morelia Intl. Film Festival, running Oct. 18-27.

"Morelia has become the best place for Mexicans to present work," says fest director Daniela Michel. "So we believe it's very important for the festival to change organically ... in a way that continues to give a space to those directors who started out showing their work with us."

The festival began in 2003 and has expanded from shorts competitions to, in 2007, its first fiction feature section, which until this year's edition was limited to first- and second-time directors.

Michel says the festival was looking to show directors like Fernando Eimbcke, who is competing with his third feature, "Club Sandwich," that they have a high-caliber forum in Mexico to bow new projects.

Eimbcke is well known on the international festival circuit, but he has long ties with Morelia, screening his breakout debut "Duck Season" in 2004 and his highly regarded follow-up "Lake Tkhoe" in 2008.

The move to open the competition to more seasoned filmmakers speaks to the sense of family Michel has engendered over the years at Morelia, which has become a key venue for emerging helmers, including Nicolas Pereda ("Verano de Goliat"), Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio ("Alamar"), Mariana Chenillo ("Nora's Will") and Amat Escalante, who took the jury prize in 2007 with "Los bastardos" (The Bastards).

Michel is quick to stress that Morelia remains a festival dedicated to finding directorial talent in Mexico, noting the creation of an Opera Prima prize for first or second works, adding that five of the 11 films in the main lineup are eligible for the award.

Another major draw for Morelia continues to be the near constant casual industry interactions beneath the city's colonial palisades, in the plazas and in the hospitality suite - offering an unusual level of access for a festival at this tier.

Festivalgoers should expect to run into a large industry presence, as several pics in this year's lineup, many of which are only in their first or second festival run, come attached with top sales agents such as Funny Balloons, Pyramide Intl., UDI, Films Boutique, FiGa and Mundial, and are produced by top indie shingles like Canana, Cine Pantera and Machete. …

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