November 5, 2004

The Baja California film, television and video festival

By Luis Alonso Pérez

Tijuana, A city portrayed by hundreds of movies as the capital of sin, showed a different face last weekend, when it became the host of the first film, television and video festival of Baja California.

From October 28 to November 1, The Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) and Fox Studios in Rosarito hosted the screenings of the festival’s official selection of movies, television shows, short films and videos made by filmmakers from all over the world.

Many filmmakers attended the festival to present their work from countries like France, Spain, Switzerland, Iran, Taiwan, Peru, Germany, Canada and New Zealand, as well as local talents from Baja California and San Diego.

The idea of creating a film festival, according to its organizer Mario Hernandez Lamia, arose because of the need for an event that attracts the attention of the film industry towards Baja California, so that movie producers consider bringing their work this side of the border.

Baja California has become a very strategic place for film production, because of its great physical and human resources, and a very attractive location, because filmmaker’s budgets spent here allows them to do larger things at lower costs.

“It’s a shame that we are two and a half hours away from Los Angeles –The movie capital of the world– and movie producers still choose to film in Toronto, because the Canadian government gives them large tax cuts, lowering their costs considerably” Said Hernandez.

One of the festivals main events was the national premiere of the movie “Puños Rosas” with the special presence of director Beto Gomez and the main actors Cecilia Suarez, Jose Yenque and Rodrigo Oviedo.

Another movie that premiered during the festival was “De Lovely” an American film directed by Irwin Winkler.

The ambassador of Iran in Mexico assisted the festival for a special screening of the Iranian movie “The Homework”. Another special guest was the director of the culture and economy agency of Taiwan in Mexico, for the screening of the television show “The fragrant fruits of Taiwan”.

During five days, dozens of selected films competed in different categories. The Tijuana Cultural Center’s theatre was the main screening stage for short films and videos made by foreign and local filmmakers, mostly independent projects with both high and low budgets.

The organizers decided that the festival should cover all three disciplines: Film, television and video, because there is a point where the three of them meet, and also as a way to exhibiting the work by local filmmakers, so they can show the kind of work there capable of doing.

“Many times people work on video because they don’t have large enough budgets to work on film because it’s very expensive, but it’s a very important step” Said Hernandez.

One of the most important directors that attended the festival was Meret Nora Burger from Switzerland, a young director who is becoming very important in Europe. Burger presented her short film “All of my mothers” and had a question and answer session with attendants.

There was a special homage to the San Diego Latin Film Festival and a conference with the festival organizer Ethan Van Thilo, who presented the Media Arts Center’s project “Tu Voz TV”.

There were also courses, workshops, panels and lectures related to the art of filmmaking.

First there was a panel on music for films, by Mexican soundtrack musicians and musical supervisors. There was also an acting workshop by Mexican actor Roberto Sosa, and a workshop on wardrobe for films by Deborah Shine. Finally there was a seminar on film criticism and analysis, and a practical course on film photography by documentalist Erik Castillo.

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