Thursday, January 31, 2008

What online media are saying about Ambulante, Mexico's Documentary Festival

Mexico City is opening its third documentary film festival "Ambulante", February 1, 2008. With 56 locations for screening, it is expected to attract some 60,000 viewers more than tripling the 12,500 viewers it received on its first year in 2006.

This year's exhibition of some 50 documentaries from 20 countries is travelling (hence the name "Ambulante") to 16 cities around Mexico, starting in Mexico City at the Cinepolis theatres ( Diana, Ecatepec, Perisur, and Universidad) and will be closing in Oaxaca, April 24.

To support its goal for promoting social conscience and creating tangible impact, Ambulante is offering free screening for its "Sonidera" (music documentaries) selections. It is also hosting screenings out of commercial centres, such as UNAM, as well as, taking some movies to be viewed inside prisons. Tickets for its normal screening are priced at 35 pesos (about 3 dollars), less than commercial films which are sold at 50 pesos.

Key figures in the creation of this non-profit film festival are well known actors, Gael Garcia Bernal (Motorcycle Diaires) and Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and producer, Pablo Cruz who are partners in the production company, Canana. Both Diego and Gael Garcia have been extensively traveling over the past few years to many film festivals around the world to promote Mexican cinema. A favorite venue for Diego is the Sundance festival and Gael Garcia has been spotted frequently at the two major Toronto film festivals, TIFF and HotDocs.

Elena Fortes, Ambulante's festival Director, according to La Jornada (link below) says, Ambulante hopes that through its distribution of documentary it will be able to reduce distances between people. "The power of the image" will permit the audience to empathize and Ambulante will be a venue that will open up possibilities for them to take action as a result of their inspiration.

Following the screening of some films, there will be talks with the filmakers and options for what can be done, where and how to respond will be presented. Taking it a level further Ambulante itself, last year raised 27,000 USD for Witness, a New York-based non-profit, founded by Peter Gabriel, empowering human rights defenders with the use of video. This year, Ambulante is screening eight most recent videos produced by Witness.

The documentaries of Ambulante are grouped in different sections to help viewers find what they would be prefer. The grouping are: Official section, Dictator's Cut, Injerto (Experimental docs), Sonidero (Musical docs), "Films for change" (in cooperation Africala:a new African Film Fest in Mexico, DF), and Witness.

The festival is opening with "Mi Vida Dentro" (plot summary on imdb), by Lucia Gaja which won Best Mexican Documentary at the Morelia Film Festival in October, 2007.

Some docs that will be screened and have received special mention by Mexican media are "Taxi to the Dark Side"(a doc about torture at Guantanamo Bay) by Alex Gibney, "The 11th hour" (trailer on Utube)- an environmental doc produced by Leornardo diCaprio, "The Big Sellout", a spirited and compelling portrayal on privatization by Florian Opitz.

Two foreign directors will be attending the festival to personally present their films: Barbet Schroeder of "L'Avocat de la Terreur", a nominee for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for 2007; and Tony Kaye, director of "Lake of Fire", a film about abortion for which there will be a roundtable discussion on this subject which is pretty touchy here in Mexico.

Ambulante is organizing six roundtables discussions around some of the issues of concern raised by the films that it has chosen to show.

There will also be a workshop on documentary development by Carlos Taibo Mahojo, Head Professor and founder of the production course for the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica.

Ambulant is also awarding grants totalling 400,000 pesos, the "Gucci Ambulante Grant", for the support of post-production of feature length documentary films for which there were 39 projects submissions.

Finally, for spicing up the festival a bit, Ambulant is exhibiting some five minutes video shorts during screening of the official sections and Dictator's Cuts. Sonidero screenings will also be accompanied by concerts with Jessy Bulb and The Margaritos (The Pasagüero, 7 of February).


REFERENCES (in Spanish):

Ambulante llegará a Tanzania y Juárez, El Dario

Despierta curiosidad el filme "El Abogado del Terror, El Finaciero

Sonidero" mostrata leyendas nundiales de la musica, El Sol de Tijuana,

Growing Morelia Fest Spotlights Docs, Mexican Artists and Indigenous Film,

Ambulante rompe con la pobre distribución de documentales, La Jornada

Captura documental “Lago de fuego” polémica sobre aborto en EU, La Jornada

“Ambulante 2008″ exhibe filmes “Nacido sin” y “Centro delantero nato”,

Llevan Gael García y Diego Luna documentales a las cárceles,

Por mejor Documental, “Taxi al lado oscuro” recibe nominación al Oscar,

Regresa gira de documentales Ambulante,

Recibe Casa del Lago de la UNAM, Mundo Hispano

Iniciará gira de documentales Ambulante en México, Pueblo en Linea (

Iniciará la tercera edición del Festival de Documentales Ambulante, Rumbo de Mexico

Una gira de documentales por M้xico proyectarแ una pelํcula sobre Kurt Cobain,Terra

Presenta Ambulante la tragedia de Pasta de Conchos en Los caídos,

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'Promises' to kick off fifth Mexico City fest

News on FICCO from the Hollywood Reporter.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Cobrador" by Paul Leduc

My hubby got us a special invitation to Mexico City's premiere of Paul Leduc's "Cobrador: In God We Trust" on Friday, Jan. 25 at the Lumiere Theatre.

Cobrador is a crime drama threading together stories by an important Brazilian writer, Rubem Fonseca. Fonseca's stories were based on actual events like the Green River serial killer, the "Railway Killer", and a Bolivian miner who blew himself up for his demands to be heard. The director, Paul Leduc, added his own element of an Argentinian photographer-abducted child who suffers for the lost identity of her parents to make stronger the film's political critique point of view.

A chance meeting with an abused Brazilian mine worker pairs the two together to "collect" revenge from people who are symbols responsible for what they have lost; an abusive dentist in America, an indifferent leader meeting at a world economic forum in Mexico, a Brazilian gold mine guard turned police and a rich mine owner who hides his impotency by running over foreign immigrant women in America.

Cobrador was filmed in Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, and Mexico DF. It won Special Jury Award at Gramado Film Festival and Best Editing at Havana Film Festival.

Paul Leduc is highly respected for his socially conscious films. Reed: Insurgent Mexico made distinct the "New Cinema" movement in Mexico. He keeps his provoking style of minimal dialogue from Frida: Naturaleza Viva. The impressive gold mine labor scene in Cobrador recalls Reggio Godfrey's lyrical documentary Powaqqatsi.

Cast: Peter Fonda, Antonella Costa and Lazaro Ramos.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Finding a new focus

So it was tough leaving friends, community and associates in TO, but life's got to go on, some things we cannot change once we've chosen it. Now I've got to transpose stuff I've learnt in TO to DF! So where do I start?...The internet!

Volunteer experience enriched my life up North, so why not down south here as well? Happy clicking away and yippee, I found some interesting festivals coming up shortly here. (What good timing!)

FICCO (Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporáneo) is hosted by Cinemex from February 19 to March 2, 2008. This is their 5th festival.

I'd like to go to Guadalajara International Film Festival but I think it's about the same time, so maybe not this year.

Then there's also Guanajuato's "Expresión en Corto International Film Festival" , but it's pretty likely that I'd be mostly involved with Ambulante, the Travelling Documentary Film Festival which will start from Mexico City on February 1st and moving to other cities in Mexico, including, Morelia, León, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Guadalajara, San Luís Potosí, Metepec, Cuernavaca, Puebla, Monterrey, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Xalapa, Mérida, Cancún y Oaxaca.

Don't forget to say hello if you run into me, ;)