Tue | Jul 16, 2019

Mexican ambassador hails GATFFEST

Published:Wednesday | June 26, 2019 | 12:22 AMKimberly Small/Staff Reporter

With its emergence starting in the 1920s, it is undeniable that Mexico’s film industry is fully formed, boasting a repertoire of award-winning directors like Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu. This year, with the blessing of Ambassador of Mexico Juan José González Mijares, the Spanish-speaking nation will add their stories to the already extensive GATFFEST Film Festival programme. Ambassador Mijares hopes that Mexico’s participation this year will catalyse intercultural exchanges between Jamaica and the Central American state within the art and film industries.

“I’m exploring the field. I arrived in Jamaica about one year ago. But the idea is always to have a sense of cooperation and collaboration, especially to bring together elements for future dialogues, for future exchanges and collaborations between curators, artists and film-makers,” the ambassador told The Gleaner. GATFFEST seemed like a great start.

As it happened, the festival was one of the ambassador’s first stops after arriving in Jamaica. On invitation from the Colombian ambassador at the time, Robert Garcia, Mijares attended GATFFEST’s 2018 première gala event for the South African dance film, Hear Me Move. “It was like a West Side Story, but in Johannesburg with these gangs, and with dancing and rhythm. It was very well adapted to the culture of Jamaica,” he recalled.

Community-Oriented

Ambassador Mijares had an Academy Award-winning library of films to choose from to present during GATFFEST’s Mexican Film Night. He referenced the renaissance of Mexican directors who have shaken the Hollywood table over the past decade, persons like Alfonso Cuarón ( Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban); Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu ( The Revenant, Birdman) and Guillermo del Toro ( Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water).

However, inspired by the community-based format of the festivals, he sought short film submissions from Mexican film students.

“For our participation in GATFFEST, I made contact with one of the two cinematography schools in Mexico City. One of them is the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica. They are lending me five short films. The other one is in the Universidad Nacional Autómoma de México (UNAM), Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos (CUEC),” he revealed.

“All these people – Cuarón, Iñárritu – they started there. So my intention in the future, through this first participation, is to have an exchange of material – publication and film – then we set the stage for Jamaicans to visit one of the schools or the other way around. There can be a lot of exchange potential.”

He continued: “We could have brought a feature film, but I wanted to adapt to the theme of community-oriented short films. This will impact the students to know that they have presented their own works in Jamaica.”

The films screened for Mexican Night at Palace Cineplex on Tuesday were Heart of Rust by Abraham Robert, The Jarana’s Journey by Ezekiel Reyes, Sweet Vengeance by Francisco Atristain, Golden Malibu by Natalia Bermudez and The Last Romantic by Natalia Garcia Agraz.