Stronger and More Mature GIFF Turns 18

By Jesús Aguado

The Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) turns 18, stronger, more mature, and willing to take more risks to keep growing. The festival will be held in San Miguel from Friday, July 17, to Wednesday, July 21.

This year’s homage in San Miguel will celebrate an actor who has murdered more than 200 men on the screen and has appeared in more than 60 productions during 60 years.

The guest country is Turkey.  The Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) will feature avant-garde cinematographic technology that will allow the audience to participate in the stages of the movies. This will be possible with Epicenter.

With respect to 18 years of history in Guanajuato and the world, Sara Hoch director/founder of GIFF commented that is very proud of the consolidation that the festival has achieved. “We are more mature in many aspects, and we will keep taking risks in favor of cinematography,” she said. It has been 100 years since Kafka wrote his immortal Metamorphosis, and this year  the festival takes Mexicomorphosis as a social topic, showing on-screen how the film industry has evolved and how it has become a window for social criticism and a showcase for stories the media does not cover because of censure. Hoch said in addition that Mexicomorphosis includes the changes the society has experienced recently, experiences that have encouraged filmmakers to help the country evolve “through films.” All told, the festival wants to project the cinematographic expressions that reflect the path of the human being on the evolutionary journey.

Hoch commented that the circuit of films will be in the historic center of San Miguel, and there will be projections and other events at the Casa de Cultura BANAMEX, Teatro Ángela Peralta, Teatro Santa Ana, Bellas Artes, and of course, the Jardín Principal. Due to the poor condition of the former Hermanos Aldama cinema, the Civil Protection Department did not allow its use for the Festival.

The Tribute

Although the activities of GIFF will start in the early morning on Friday, July 17, the inaugural event will start at 7:15pm. At that time there will be a parade to honor Eric del Castillo, the Guanajuatense from Celaya. The parade will leave from Casa de Sierra Nevada del Parque, headed by the actor on a cart, followed by mojigangas (giant puppets), locos, and live music. It will continue through Sollano, Correo, Corregidora, San Francisco, Plaza Principal, Canal, and Hernández Macías streets and will end up at the Teatro Ángela Peralta, where actors, directors, and producers will gather. The event is free.

At the end of the tribute, the movie Love and Mercy will be projected at the theater. The movie tells the story of Brian Wilson, the unstable singer, composer, and leader of the Beach Boys Band. The film focuses on Wilson’s musical life that marked an age, deeply examining Wilson’s personal journey, the success, salvation, and the personal cost that he paid for it.

Once the homage ends, Eric del Castillo and the guests will head to the Jardín Principal, where he will present one of his favorite movies. The next day at 1pm, the actor will give a free lecture at the Teatro Ángela Peralta.


The Epicenter will be located at Bellas Artes and will be open for the five days of the festival from 10am-6pm. To make Epicenter possible, GIFF sent out a call across the Mexican Republic to attract young creative decoders. The resulting Epicenter is a Mexican technological platform, created especially by and for GIFF by the most successful technology students. The idea of Epicenter is to present breaking experiences to cinema fans. With the technology of Epicenter that was presented last year along with GIFF at the Cannes Film Festival, the spectators stop being spectators and become part of the stories because they can actually stroll through the movie stages. They cannot change the script, but they are able to touch the actors in virtual reality. This technology center will be one of the main attractions when the GIFF factory is finally constructed.

What you shouldn’t miss!

H is a modern interpretation of a Greek tragedy in which two women called Helen live spectacular lives. The first Helen is a 60-year-old woman who lives with her husband and takes care of a doll as if it were a human baby. The second Helen is a prominent 30-year-old artist who became pregnant four months ago. One night, something falls down from the sky and explodes in the city. After that, people appear and disappear and many strange things start happening. In the meantime the two Helens meet. Saturday, July 18, 4pm, Teatro Ángela Peralta.

Mustang is a Turkish movie that takes place in a northern city of that country. It tells the story of Lale and her four sisters, who are walking home from school, playing with some young men. The alleged immorality of their games causes a scandal that has unexpected consequences. The family house gradually turns into a prison, and the girls live their lives amid cooking classes and domestic activities that replace school. Their marriages are arranged. The five sisters, led by their desires for happiness, will fight against the imposed decisions.

On Saturday, July 18, at 9pm, Sanmiguelense Morgana will visit San Miguel. She is a man who decided to live her own dream. In a Mexican documentary, director Flavio Florencio decided to film Morgana’s journey to Thailand. Morgana, who is also an opera singer, traveled there to have sex change surgery. The documentary will be presented by this woman who crossed the Mediterranean sea to achieve her dreams. The projection will be at the Jardín Principal.

A must see on Sunday

All of me is a series of documentaries that promote projects of social change. This film tells of the service that the Patronas, a group of women from La Patrona in Veracruz, provide to immigrants traveling on the train called The Beast from Central America to the United States. When they pass through La Patrona, the women throw them small lunch boxes while the train is in motion. They have provided this social service since 1995. In 2013 they won the National Award for Human Rights. The Patronas will attend the projection with the director. Sunday, July 19, 9pm, Jardín Principal.

Check the whole program in Qué Pasa’s Festivals and Events section.

Eric del Castillo is a Mexican actor who was born in Celaya, on July 2, 1934. His first participation in a movie was in 1959 in El látigo negro. He later made El tunco Maclovio (1967) and La generala (1971. He has directed the movie Las sobrinas del diablo (1983), and he is currently directing the Eagle Eye Art Academy in Houston. In 1962 he became involved in soap operas and has acted in 40, among them La herencia and El Maleficio (1983); María la del barrio (1995); and La verdad oculta (1971).


Last week GIFF became involved in an aggressive attack due to the reduction of state financing. Guanajuato Governor Miguel Márquez Márquez commented that the festival is not a source of revenue for the state, and he remarked additionally that GIFF is not a public institution to be financed. According to him, GIFF is 18 and it should be self-sustainable. Annually, the GIFF receives “10 thousand million pesos,” he said, and it should be financed by private institutions. These comments could put the construction of the GIFF Factory at risk.

However, Governor Márquez and the State Secretary of Touristic Development do not agree in their comments. In a press conference, Fernando Olivera assured that GIFF is one of the most important film festivals in Mexico. He also commented that it attracts more than 129,000 visitors and has a gross revenue close to 200 million pesos.

Sara Hoch did not want to be involved in controversy and commented only that “ the numbers are clear. The festival generates more than one billion pesos of unpaid publicity, a gross revenue of 169 million pesos in the state with more than 120 thousand attendees, plus a cultural cinematographic offering of world quality.”


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