Leon, Guanajuato.- After holding a pandemic edition, the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF, for its acronym in English) arrives in 2021 with many learnings, its first activities in the city of León, a virtual beach and the return of the red carpets.
“We are surprised at the number of films we receive, the truth is that we think that due to COVID and with everyone locked up at home, there would not be a film production of the year 2020,” said the director and founder of the festival Sarah Hoch in interview by video call from Guanajuato. “We received 3,300 films from 132 countries and a great cinematographic quality”.
The festival also increased the number of Mexican feature films in competition from 8 to 10 as there was a lot of offer and quality.
This year they were selected “Noche de fuego” by Tatiana Huezo, “Los Días Francos” by Ulises Pérez Mancilla, “Distrito Olvido” by Thom Díaz, “Mírame” by Pavel Cantú, “Guiexhuba” by Sabrina Muhate, “The Beautiful Vanquished” by Guillermo Magariños, “Malibú” by Víctor Velázquez, “What remains on the road” by Danilo do Carmo and Jakob Krese, “Map of Latin American dreams” by Martín Weber and “National Party” by Augusto De Alba.
The festival will take place from from September 17 to 26 in three formats: face-to-face, digital and virtual, presenting a total of 188 films from 52 countries. While it will be held in the cities of León, San Miguel de Allende and Irapuato, with three days in each city in order to gather fewer people in one place. In cinemas the capacity will be 50%, but with more times available. The use of face masks is mandatory.
“Last year we had one or two screens per city, this year we have six or seven screens per city”Hoch said.
One of the new venues It is the Guanajuato Cultural Forum, in León, where the rooms have ventilation and filters against COVID-19. There will also be a cinema-picnic with food trucks in the open air.
“We hope that with these very strict guidelines that we are taking, people will have a healthy experience”Hoch said.
Todd Stephens’ “Swan Song”, previously released at Sundance, will be the opening film and its lead, actor Udo Kier, will host an online discussion. There will also be red carpets, one per night.
In its online platform the festival It will offer 25 feature films and 135 short films from 44 countries. You only need to register on Giff.mx to access the platform, where there are also trailers, interviews and presentations of the films. Online films have a capacity of 1,000 people.
For the second consecutive year the festival will have a virtual platform. Last year their virtual headquarters was the Juárez Theater, the city of Guanajuato, but now they are going to the beach.
“The page weighed a lot, this year it is light, there are open-air spaces for conferences, for workshops, a sample of our 19 films in the virtual reality space with functions there”, Hoch said.
You can access the GIFF virtual space with the computer, but the experience is much better with 3D viewers to appreciate its 360 degrees. Users must create an avatar to move in the virtual space.
“These avatars dance very well, we already tried it with salsa”Hoch said.
“Went the first festival in the world last year to have a virtual space. At the end of our festival 35 large-scale festivals worldwide approached this platform to also carry out their events in these virtual worlds “added.
For almost a decade the festival has addressed the topic of virtual reality and produced three films in this format.
“We had to move to a space that we have talked and worked on so much”Hoch said.
The Association of Women in Film and Television will render tribute to actress María Rojo and the screenwriter Beatriz Novaro. Both honorees will share their experiences in a couple of talks: Rojo in person in the city of San Miguel de Allende and Novaro digitally. As part of the tribute for both, GIFF will present the classic Mexican film “Danzón” starring Rojo with a script by Novaro.
At the same time the university rally will return, a competition in which teams from different parts of Mexico have 48 hours to create films that will be presented at the end of the festival.
León is a city with more space than Guanajuato, its theaters with ventilation systems and large esplanades make the change of venue seem logical in the face of the pandemic, however it occurred due to an unplanned circumstance.
“Unfortunately we lost our co-founder and co-director to COVID and he was from León”said Hoch about Ernesto Herrera, her husband. The current edition of the festival will be dedicated to Herrera.
Read more: Confrontation in Valparaíso leaves at least 20 dead
“COVID hit my house very hard, my parents and my husband died in January, February and May,” said Hoch. “There was some fear or concern that we were not going to do the festival because of this, but we turned it from mourning to a celebration of life and wanting to give Ernesto the best festival that we have carried out throughout these 24 years”.