The Los Cabos International Film Festival returns next week, Nov. 11–15, with a slate of exciting new films, red carpet galas with movie stars and celebrities, and industry activities designed to promote collaboration between the Mexican, U.S, and Canadian film communities.
The program for the fourth edition of the popular event includes 45 films, many of which were outstanding features at some of the world’s other notable festivals–including Cannes, Sundance, Venice, Berlin, Telluride, and Toronto–but few of which have ever been seen in México. Thus, in addition to showcasing four world premieres, this year’s program will also boast 11 Latin American and 19 Mexican premieres.
Films will primarily be screened at Cinemex Theaters at Puerto Paraíso, and at the Pabellón Cultural de la República in Cabo San Lucas, but there will also be outdoor screenings at Plaza Mijares in San José del Cabo. The outdoor screenings have been an enormous success locally since the inaugural event in 2012, when filmgoers sat under the stars, surrounded by succulents, watching Hecho en México in the Wirikuta Cactus Garden at Puerto Los Cabos.
Local and national themes have always been popular, so the world premiere of Baja Taste, a film about Baja Med and the Baja California culinary scene, is particularly noteworthy. The Roberto Najera directed feature will be screened at Plaza Mijares on Nov. 15, and will almost certainly be one of the highlights of the weekend (hint: get there early). The outdoor screenings are free to the public thanks to sponsorship from Discovery Channel.
Baja Taste is but one of the films in the festival’s highly anticipated Tastes Program, a subgenre dedicated to gustatory cinema (think Big Night or The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover). Other cinematic servings include the Mexican premiere of the Luiz González and Andrea Gómez joint Cooking up a Tribute, about two brothers closing their acclaimed restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, to take their talents on the road; and the Latin American premiere of Sergio Herman: F***ing Perfect, about a Michelin rated chef obsessed with culinary excellence.
Lest one think the gastronomic pleasures are limited to the silver screen, CPTM, México’s Tourism Board, will dine on traditional Mexican specialties at Cabo San Lucas restaurant Los Tres Gallos. And Pitahayas, the signature restaurant at Sheraton’s elegant Hacienda del Mar resort, will host a very special dinner to celebrate and promote the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund. Miguel Ángel Guerrero, the Tijuana restaurateur who created Baja Med cuisine and is a major figure in the film Baja Taste, will work with Pitahayas own ace chef, Volker Romeike, to prepare dishes that allude to film fund awarded projects. Anyone willing to donate $2,000 pesos (approximately $125 U.S.) can attend, with all monies donated going to help young Mexican filmmakers.
As some dude named Shakespeare once said: “If music be the food of love, play on.” And music, like food, is highlighted at this year festival. Cuts from the B-Side Program include Dope, a coming of age comedy for the Hip Hop generation that features original music from Pharrell Williams; a behind the scenes look at the hugely popular Canadian indie band Arcade Fire–Arcade Fire, The Reflektor Tapes; and The Office, Hong Kong director Johnny To’s ambitious musical comedy about corporate politics and workplace relationships.
A new feature this year, Spotlight, shines on Alex Ross Perry, the young American director of Impolex (2009), The Color Wheel (2011), Listen Up Phillip, and Queen of Earth (2015). The latter will make its Latin American premiere in Los Cabos. Bigger budget U.S. films are also represented–in the section American Specials–highlighted by Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass. International entries include 45 Years with Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, while entrants in the competition categories vie for cash prizs, as determined by distinguished juries of international film experts.
The opening night film will be Demolition, a Jean-Marc Vallée directed drama (loyal festival goers will remember that his film Dallas Buyers Club also made its Mexican premiere in Los Cabos) starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper. Taken and Nell star Liam Neeson will be among the more recognizable attendees…to U.S. and Canadian fans, anyway. Choyeros will likely be more impressed by the presence of national celebrities like Eugenio Derbez, José María Yazpik, Manolo Caro, Tenoch Huerta, José Carlos Ruíz, Sebastián Aguirre, Sophie Alexander-Katz, José María Torre, Sofía Espinosa, Ianis Guerrero, Rosa María Bianchi, Jaime Garza, and Adriana Paz – all of whom will walk the red carpet during the opening gala.
Red carpet glamor aside, development will be a major focus of the festival. Come Meet Neighbors meetings bring together producers and executives from the three North American film industries, Cabos in Progress helps films in the production stage, and the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund, as previously mentioned, supports Mexicans filmmakers during both the early and post-production stages of their projects.
Most exciting, though, is the introduction of Cabos TV, a new platform dedicated to fostering a healthy dialogue between cinema and television, from the development to the marketing phases. New series, and some still in development, will be shown on the big screen during the festival. Most notably, Club de Cuervos, a show about the feuding heirs of a Mexican soccer team. Co-created, produced, and directed by Gaz Alazraki, whose 2013 feature Nosotros los Nobles is the highest grossing film in the history of Mexican cinema, Club de Cuervos is the first Spanish language original offered by Netflix.
Additionally, would-be creators of the next Club de Cuervos will be able to meet with executives from HBO, Netflix, Sundance TV, AMC, HBO LA, Gaumont International Television, Awesomeness, Bell Media, Claro TV and Sony Pictures Television México during the festival.
For more information about tickets, films, television series, and scheduling, visit cabosfilmfestival.com. Donations to attend the Pitahayas dinner prepared by Volker Romeike and Miguel Ángel Guerrero can be made through the website, or locally at Café Cabo at Plaza Copán in Cabo San Lucas, and at Don Sánchez and Retro Burger in San José del Cabo.