Guadalajara International Film Festival: A magnificent fiesta of Latino cinema now in its thirty-second year

The Guadalajara International Film Festival brought to a close its magnificent thirty-second edition with an awards ceremony at University of Guadalajara’s Cineforo last Friday, March 16, thus concluding a week full of cinema in which more than a dozen films stood out.

The two great winners of the Mexican festival devoted to Spanish-language cinema were the Cuban Santa and Andrés by Carlos Lechuga and the Mexican La libertad del diablo by Everardo González.

Santa and Andrés received awards for best Ibero-American narrative feature, best screenplay, best actress and a special jury award. The director of Melaza (2012) offers in his second feature another simple, captivating and vivid portrait of human relations, this time between an ostracized homosexual writer and a revolutionary woman who is in charge of guarding him in the rural Cuba of the 80’s.

The state-run Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) withdrew Santa and Andrés from the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana last December, pressured to pull the film from competition in the upcoming Havana Film Festival to take place in New York starting March 30, arguing that the story “highlights political persecution and aggressions that never took place on the island; it’s rewriting history.”

La libertad del diablo by Everardo González received awards for best Ibero-American documentary, best photography, best Mexican film and a prize from the press. The seventh documentary by the prolific Mexican filmmaker is a chilling tale about violence  as a result of drug trafficking in Mexico. Tortured and torturer men and women, young and old, narrate their particular horror stories wearing masks in front of the camera. La libertad del diablo secured its worldwide distribution at the Berlin Film Festival, Germany, last February.

In addition to this two great winners, Guadalajara’s festival awarded the Dominican film Carpinteros by José María Cabral, an interesting love triangle guided by the prison hand language, which received awards for best actor and a special jury award; Sueño en otro idioma by the Mexican Ernesto Contreras, an endearing fiction committed to the preservation of the indigenous languages, which received a prize for best performance by the protagonist couple; And As duas Irenes by the Brazilian Fabio Meira, a beautiful story about a girl filmed in the tropical savannah, which received prizes for best opera prima and photography.

In the documentary section, it is worth highlighting the El Pacto de Adriana by the Chilean Lissette Orozco, a personal exploration of the memory regarding the Pinochet dictatorship, which received a special jury award; And Etiqueta no rigurosa by the Mexican Cristina Herrera Bórquez, about a gay couple who fight for their rights in the homophobic city of Mexicali.

In the short films section, the winners were all women filmmakers: Aya by the Peruvian Francesca Canepa Sarmiento, filmed in a small town in Cusco, the animated short Cerulia by the Mexican Sofía Carrillo, and the documentary Berta Vive by the Honduran Katia Lara Pineda, about environmental activist Berta Cáceres, assassinated in 2016.

In the section devoted to unfinished feature films, the two big winners were Argentina’s Mi mundial by Carlos Morelli, about a boy who takes his family out of poverty by playing football, and Venezuela’s Infección by Flavio Pedota, a science fiction story about an epidemic of aggressive beings in Caracas.

Although they did not get any prizes, it is also worth highlighting the Cuban Últimos días en La Habana by Fernando Pérez, sort of a continuation of Strawberry and Chocolate (1994), beautifully lit, with memorable performances and agile dialogues; The Colombian La mujer del animal by Víctor Gaviria [The Rose Seller, 1998], excellent, uncomfortable and brutal, about the harsh reality of women in the slums of Medellín; Tesoros by the Mexican María Novaro [Danzón, 1991], a touching story of children filmed in a fishing community in Guerrero, México; And the two Mexican opera primas El silencio es bienvenido by Gabriela García Rivas, a sober atmospheric film about the deaf threat of violence, and Luis Ayhllón’s Nocturno, which shows an accomplished tone of intrigue and an attractive story.

Among the documentaries, it is worth highlighting Me llamaban King Tiger by Ángel Estrada Soto, about the fascinating and unknown story of Chicano leader Reies López Tijerina in New Mexico; And El maíz en tiempos de guerra by Alberto Cortés, who eight years after Heart of Time, returns to indigenous communities to make this wonderful film about corn.

The Guadalajara International Film Festival, organized by the University of Guadalajara since the 1980s, plays an important role for the Mexican and Latin American film industry. It is a springboard for the distribution and release of new films.

Good weather and countless night parties helped filmmakers, producers, sales agents, talent, distributors and other members of the Latino film industry close deals on the programming, purchase and distribution of films for us to enjoy on the screens in the near future.

Cine Sania’s new screening venue was an improvement over previous years and the service of taxis between the different venues in the city worked to perfection. The festival also revesited free outdoor screenings at Plaza Cataluña and presented the novelty of a ‘movie truck’ equipped with air conditioning and restrooms.

To learn about all the winners and titles presented at the 32nd Guadalajara International Film Festival, please visit


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