En hora buena – Introducing The Mexican Film Festival of The Americas

Presented by Mexico City’s Secretary of Tourism and Casa de Chicago, the inaugural edition of The Mexican Film Festival of The Americas in Chicago opens Thursday, September 20th and goes until Friday, September 28.  Screenings will take place at the historic and handsomely re-fitted Art Deco Logan Theater inside a 180 seater.  The novel and ambitious festival’s mission is “dedicated to supporting and cultivating every aspect of Mexican Cinema, including emerging and cutting edge Mexican films with the emphasis on discovering new filmmakers from Mexico and abroad.”

 I couldn’t think of a better film to open this kind of festival than the nostalgic documentary La Perdida by Viviana Garcia Besne, a personal and revealing odyssey through Mexican Cinema’s cherished Golden Age of Cinema.  A programming slate of highly distinct genre and caliber, the 30 something film lineup includes Mexican Ariel Film winner, Dias de Gracia by Everardo Gout and Chicana coming of age Mosquita y Mari by Aurora Guerrero. Positioning themselves as a festival of discovery the Festival will unveil the world premiere of Mission Park by Bryan Ramirez and produced by Douglas Spain, an accomplished debut and cautionary tale about four childhood friends whose different paths cause them to cross and confront their loyalty.  The Festival will close with a very special headliner event honoring Academy Award actor nominee Demián Bichir, who is taking a time out from his crazy busy schedule to christen the baby festival.

A debate about when to have a debate – scene from El Ingeniero

Sure to be THE social event of the week, go rub elbows with big-wigs and talk politics with one of Mexico’s brightest political family dynasty members, the erudite and three time presidential candidate, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano at the International premiere of  El Ingeniero by Alejandro Lubezki.  An incredible behind the scenes of the  2000 Mexican presidential campaign leading up to the last (and short-lived) time the PRI got booted out of office, the intimate access exposes the grueling campaign circus and mechanics, and ultimately shows  Cárdenas as an authentic, flawed and salt-of the-earth character.    Read my review from Guadalajara here.

So how did a festival score such high profile talent, gems and world premieres???  Festival Director’s Jesse Charbonier’s reputation, experience and contacts.  Charbonier served as Operations Manager and then Programming Director of the renowned Chicago International Film Festival for years, where he strengthed the Latino programming and bestowed a special award upon Bichir who broke out with three films in 1999 including Sexo Pudor y Lagrimas which the festival will screen (love). Jesse has also served as distribution consultant and producer to several films, in addition to establishing his singing career.  It was his desire to reach the large Mexican population of Chicago and present a more progressive, edgy cinema that triggered the start of this collaboration between sister cities, Chicago and Mexico City.   He curated the strong lineup from traveling and covering the Guadalajara Film Festival FICG27 and HBO’s NY Latino Film festival, as well as through recommendations from several colleagues.  His approach; “Every night is Opening Night.”  Each film has their own slot that will run without any competition.  Along with his distinctive taste in programming, this type of concscientious care, operation know-how, and connection to the Chicago audience, ensures the Festival has its best foot forward.

Chi-town style – comfy, plush theater

Thanks to not one but two airline sponsors (no small feat for a festival to arrange), All filmmakers who were available will be present for their screenings and Q&As and in some cases for the preceding reception.  Regular films are a reasonable $8 and the special event films are $15 which include a pre-screening reception with complimentary cocktails (tequila sponsor, EC Charro) and food!  Well worth a film, filmmaker convo and light dinner.

Theater dates back to 1915

Que envidia chicos, as a Chicana From Chicago living in LA I wish I were in my hometown to celebrate this momentous occassion.  You have been given a gift my Chi-town peeps.  Go hang out with these talented filmmakers, see their films and report back.  Help spread the word.  Check out the schedule, you can buy tickets on Brown Paper Tickets and like the festival on Face.

Sending lots of besos and suerte to the festival.

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