Magazine Home
The Making of a Film Festival

by Jeffrey R. Sipe

No movie has ever been made without a healthy dose of hubris driving its creators. How else would it be possible to recreate the parting of the Red Sea, the invasion of Normandy or even the life and times of juvenile delinquents in Mexico City slums.

The same may be said of film festivals, the Guanajuato Film Festival (GIFF) included. Their spectacular 24th edition, the first “post”-Covid film festival in Mexico, rolls out across three cities this month:

Leon, September 18-20; San Miguel de Allende, September 21-23; Itapuato, September 24-26

GIFF is online as well. So, if you can’t make it to a physical screening in Itapuato, just turn on your computer.

In San Miguel de Allende, film lovers will have various options to watch festival films, ranging from nighttime sessions in the Jardin Principal and numerous screenings at Cinemex and at Bellas Artes, among others.

While public screenings – indoors or outdoors – have their own unique appeal, don’t feel bad if you opt to attend all or part of the festival online. Last year’s event, which bypassed San Miguel, saw attendance skyrocket to 330,601 – three times the attendance of the previous year – because of the festival’s online component.

Ninety percent of those who began watching a film online, watched the film to the end. This percentage has real meaning for anyone who has ever placed a video on YouTube and discovered how quickly some viewers lost interest, and also for sales agents at major film markets, who freak out as they watch potential distributors streaming out the door of an industry screening within minutes of a film’s start.

This year’s GIFF is dedicated to Ernest Herrera, co-founder of the festival and a creative force in the Mexican art world. A number of events and exhibitions connected to his life and work will take place, especially in his hometown of Leon.

Other “homenajes” will be dedicated to actress Maria Rojo and writer / poet / dramaturge Beatriz Novarro under the Women in Cinema and TV rubric. Also in town is Udo Kier, the lead actor in the Leon opening night film, Todd Solondz’s Swan Song, who will be front-and-center in an online conversation regarding the film and his career.

Opening the festival in San Miguel de Allende is the first fiction film from Mexican director Tatiana Huezo, Noche de Fuego, while Ulises Perez Mancilla’s Los Dias Francos kicks things off in Itapuato.

With 3,274 films submitted from 132 countries and 926 films coming from the 32 Mexican states, this year’s final selection comprises 160 shorts and features. These will be competing for prizes in categories including, Mexican Feature Films, International Features – Fiction, International Features -Documentary, Documentary Shorts, Fiction, Experimental, Animation, and Virtual Reality. For many of the films, screening in this year’s Guanajuato Film Festival marks their world or Latin American premieres.

Over nine days, across three cities, with 160 titles from around the world and numerous online panels, presentations, interviews and virtual reality meet-ups… it may not be the parting of the Red Sea, but it comes from the same monumental self-confidence. Without a good measure of hubris, festivals, especially one as large and complex as GIFF, would never get off the ground.

So, hail hubris! And as festival organizers like to say, “Más cine, por favor.”

Mexican features in competition:

Noche de fuego, Dir. Tatiana Huezo
Los días francos, Dir. Ulises Pérez Mancilla
Distrito Olvido, Dir. Thom Díaz
Mírame, Dir. Pavel Cantú
Guiexhuba, Dir. Sabrina Muhate
Los hermosos vencidos, Dir. Guillermo Magariños
Malibú, Dir. Víctor Velázquez
Lo que queda en el camino, Dir. Danilo do Carmo y Jakob Krese
Mapa de sueños latinoamericanos, Dir. Martín Weber
Fiesta Nacional, Dir. Augusto De Alba

International Features include:

Hive (Kosovo), Dir. Blerta Basholli
Fucking with Nobody (Finlandia), Dir. Hannaleena Hauru
Careless Crime (Irán), Dir. Shahram Mokri;
The Face of Anonymous (Canadá), Dir. Gary Lang
Madalena (Brazil), Dir. Madiano Marcheti

For a complete listing of films, online panels, conferences and more visit:





Jeffrey R. Sipe is a writer/journalist, who, no matter how hard he writes, having grown up in Speedway, Indiana, still can’t get the sounds of race cars rounding Turn 4 out of his head. He has written about the film industry for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Sight and Sound, The Financial Times and other publications. He also once worked as the “boom guy” on a film that nobody saw, but he challenges everyone to see just how long they can hold a metal tube with a microphone attached over their heads.

events @

Subscribe / Suscribete  
If you receive San Miguel Events newsletter,
then you are already on our mailing list.    
Click ads
copyright 2023