Spotlights lit up the sky above the Pabellón Cultural de la República in Cabo San Lucas as packed rows of locals and camera and microphone toting press leaned over barricades trying to get as close as possible to the actors, actresses and VIPS who walked the red carpet on opening night of the Los Cabos International Film Festival.
Jared Leto–looking more rock than movie star in leather jacket, torn jeans, checkered Vans, and red-streaked hair–was the most recognizable star at this first of four red carpet galas at the 4th annual edition of the film fest…internationally at least. Locals seemed more excited by the presence of Mexican actors like Héctor Suárez and Sophie Alexander-Katz.
Leto was on hand to support his Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée, whose new film Demolition was making its Latin American premiere as the opening night feature.
“He changed me from a chronically unemployed actor into an Academy Award winner,” said Leto of Vallée during the pre-screening program, which was hosted by festival director Alonso Aguilar-Castillo and Alexander-Katz.
The two swept glamorously across the stage like presenters at the Academy Awards, and presided over a parade of speeches by local dignitaries, including President of Los Cabos Arturo de la Rosa and Baja California Sur Governor Carlos Mendoza, and frequent shout-outs to the festival’s primary patron, Eduardo Sánchez-Navarro.
Vallée, who in addition to being honored by the opening night premiere is also being recognized as this year’s “Tribute” director–his films C.R.A.Z.Y. and Café de Flore will also be shown this week–seemed humbled by the experience.
“My characters are often underdogs or antiheroes, but tonight you have made me feel like a hero,” Vallée said, acknowledging the honor.
“This is the most rock n’ roll film I’ve ever made,” he added of Demolition, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a widower dealing with destructive feelings after the sudden death of his wife. The drama also features standout performances from Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper.
The film received warm applause from the crowd, before they decamped to the opening night cocktail party and ribbon cutting at Puerto Paraíso, the Marina-based mall whose Cinemex theater will be the primary site of screenings over the next four days.
For more information about screening times, tickets, and red carpet galas (Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Cyndi Lauper are still expected), visit cabosfilmfestival.com. Complimentary tickets to upcoming screenings are being given away at some local businesses in Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and La Paz–most notably Café Cabo, Spaghettini, Better Salads, and the Santa Carmela Market–but availability is limited.