Mexican film festivals and industry development : Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and Morelia, and the reemergence of a national film industry




Lauer, Jean Anne

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The Mexican film industry has experienced substantial ups and downs in terms of how many films national filmmakers have produced annually, as well as whether or not these films have reached audiences at home or abroad. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, production and exhibition numbers were at some of the lowest levels the nation had ever known. By 2014, national production was not only recovering but reaching levels on par with the Mexican Golden Age of cinema of the 1950s. In the context of other factors, this project’s primary inquiry explores the rise of three leading Mexican film festivals and the creation of initiatives, through these festivals, aimed at bolstering national film production in the early 21st century. The festivals are, in order of founding, the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG), the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF), and the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM). Stepping outside their traditional role of exhibiting completed films, and following other film industry leaders including Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, and Rotterdam, by 2005, each of these festivals had launched events dedicated to supporting films in development or preproduction. The history and reputation of the film festivals provides the background to an analysis of the role of such events or initiatives and their impact on national film production. The research conducted and analyzed for the project included interviews with festival directors, initiative coordinators, filmmakers, and government representatives, all of whom were invested in a particular outcome for Mexican cinema: increased national production and international coproduction. This project concludes that their efforts were most effective in the area of addressing a particular weakness that the Mexican film industry was suffering from: in the late 1990s, a shortage of trained, professional, producers with the capacity to helm viable film projects meant that few films could be made per year. In coordination with other invested partners, the festivals sought to address this weakness by focusing their initiatives on networking and capacity-building for producers, and early results indicate that FICG, GIFF, FICM have achieved such benchmarks. This project’s inquiries bridge contemporary media industry studies, Mexican film history, and film festival studies, the intersection of which provides for significant contributions to each field and together illustrate the need for more in-depth research and analysis in these areas. For this study, the focus is on how their festival initiatives have shaped the field of film production within the Mexican national cinematic landscape, and represents the first systematic study of this new development not only in Mexican film, but beyond.


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