Mexico: GIFF 2013, Creative Expansion

giff-logoThe Guanajuato International Film Festival, formerly known as Expresion en Corto was held from July 19-28 in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato and presented in its 16th edition new avenues of original growth rarely observed at other festivals.  It certainly shares with other major international film festivals a constant increase of its programs and its audience.  For the 2013 fest 3,395 productions were submitted from 111 countries.  More than 400 were selected for an audience surpassing 90,000, an amazing feat since GIFF is an under staffed festival relying primarily on public funding and provides free access to virtually all of its screening and related events, such as concerts and seminars. The festival menu included a focus on the Columbian film industry, and several tributes to actors and directors, such as Fernando Lujan, Danny Boyle and Darren Aronofsky who also ran workshops.  Festival sections  included first features , fiction films, the customary large selection of short films in all genres, animated productions, documentaries, special sections  on   films made by women, and  on ‘Documentaries with an Impact’ (curated by the author).

After extending the festival in 2001 to the state capital Guanajuato s because of the limitations of San Miguel’s small screening venues and changing the festival name in 2010 to Guanajuato International Film Festival to attract more feature films, GIFF set a milestone in 2013 by establishing an industry oriented knowledge base focusing on new digital tools to foster the growth of the Mexican and international film productions and developing advanced educational programs.

The festival schedule was programmed live on GIFF TV video streaming full days of events from San Miguel and Guanajuato.  This included the professional workshops aimed at the industry   on topics such as crowd funding, screen writing, new digital delivery platforms, workshops which will also be available on line throughout the year on GIIF’s internet channel.  Other programs will be shared in the future as developed by GIFF. The festival continued its Incubator meetings, featuring private consultation for aspiring Mexican, and international film makers, the long established International Pitching Market, and the national film script context.  These seminars  and meetings were run in collaboration with a large number of international experts drawn from Sundance, the  Cannes film foundation, Torino film labs, the US  Under The Milky Way company, Lionsgate, the Goethe Institute, and the Mexican Incine, to name but a few.

Apart from the festival going on line, it has secured funding for setting up a long term year round project   the San Miguel based LA FABRICA GIFF: Center for Cinematographic Development and Production,  which will also serve as a space for the  performing arts. It includes Epicentro, a research and development center on new technologies applied to digital platforms and gadgets, a facility supported by a high speed fiber optic network. LA FABRICA will contain a cinemateque with 500 seats, a digital library and conference facilities. Construction of this major film production and distribution center will be finished within two years with public and private funding apparently secured. Part of the project is the GIFF residence a three month independent study program for young creative talent providing intensive training in theory and production techniques during fall and spring sessions.  The program will be run by national and international film professionals.  Though on a minor scale, but most unusual for a film festival, GIFF is already involved in film productions. GIFF is making documentaries for the festival’s Identity and Belonging competition as well as the 48-Hour Collegiate Production Rally films.

Keeping the history of the festival in mind, its progress over the last 15 years is amazing. If all plans work out LA FABRICA GIFF will certainly make significant contribution to enhancing noteworthy film productions in Mexico and strengthen San Miguel de Allende as a center for arts and culture.

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