Since 1998 the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) has been held during the final week of July in the cities of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato Capital, Mexico.
As a non-profit cultural event that does not charge admission to its viewing audience, GIFF is made possible each year through the generous participation of institutions and partners, who each lend their support to our festival; whose main objective is the strengthening of cinema through the mutual exchange of knowledge, experience and ideas.
We are a festival that prides itself in celebrating, supporting and awarding the next generation of filmmakers. Acting as a platform for launching new careers, GIFF’s national and international competition pits newcomers alongside the industry’s most seasoned veterans, in an atmosphere full of camaraderie and respect, where new and aspiring filmmakers mix with industry professionals in a very open, accessible and competitive environment.
During the past fifteen years GIFF has established itself as the most important platform for young filmmakers in Latin America, each year bringing upcoming talents together with world-renowned experts of the moving image. In 2011 GIFF received 2,738 films from 108 countries in competition, while hosting over 90,000 total audience members who over 10 days enjoyed more than 400 films from 9am until 4am in 20 venues; including such unusual spaces as the subterranean streets and tunnels beneath Guanajuato Capital city as well as in both cities’ graveyards.
GIFF, which is produced by the non-profit Expresión en Corto Foundation A.C., is made possible each year in large part thanks to: the State Government of Guanajuato, the Guanajuato State Secretary of Tourism, the National Council on Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA) the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE), the cities of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato Capital, sponsorship from the private sector, various tax-deductible donations from the public, many partnering institutions and hundreds of volunteers. This combined support allows GIFF to annually offer a variety of screenings, workshops, conferences, tributes and activities at no cost to the visiting public.
Over the course of 10 days, more than 400 films are screened from 10am until 4am in 21 venues, which include such unusual locations as: the Jardín Principal (main square) of San Miguel de Allende; the classical open-air staircase of the University of Guanajuato; the subterranean streets and tunnels beneath Guanajuato Capital (where gay, lesbian, erotic and underground films are projected); as well as horror films that are screened in both municipal graveyards (panteónes). There are also screenings in more conventional spaces such as Cines Aldama (SMA), Teatro Angela Peralta (SMA), Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez – El Nigromante (SMA), the Teatro Santa Ana (SMA), Galería Kunsthaus Santa Fe (SMA), the Auditorio del Estado (GTO) and the Teatro Principal (GTO).
The international competition is the largest in Mexico, with films competing in a variety of categories that include: Short Fiction, Short Animation, Short Experimental, Short Documentary, Long Documentary and Feature Length Opera Prima (or feature film debuts). As well as an assortment of workshops, conferences, Women in Film and Television luncheons and National Tributes to both Mexican and International A-list filmmakers who are in attendance.
GIFF has paid tribute to both National and International filmmakers, including: Paul Schrader, Bong Joon-ho, Peter Greenaway, Spike Lee, Tim Burton, Kenneth Anger, Oliver Stone, Lucrecia Martel, Eliseo Subiela, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Manuel Ojeda, Deepa Mehta, Shyam Benegal, Tongolele, Joaquin Cordero, Irvin Kershner, Gaspar Noé, Spike Jonze, Felipe Cazals, Josefina Echanove, Patricia Reyes Spíndola, Diana Bracho, María Rojo, Miguel Zacarías, Rafael Inclán, Julio Alemán, Don Manuel Esperón, and Marga López, among many others.
In association with Women In Film and Television International, GIFF celebrates cinema’s most accomplished women. Past honorees have included: Graciela Borges, Bertha Navarro, Adriana Barraza, Marcela Fernández Violante, Brigitte Broch, Kathy Jurado, Angélica Aragón, Gloria Schoemann, Carmen Montejo, Silvia Pinal, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Ofelia Medina, Carla Estrada and Maria Elena Velasco, to name a few.
The festival hosts an annual International Pitching Market, summoning international producers, distributors and diverse film financing institutions from around the world who are interested in participating in co-productions with the top Mexican projects currently in development.
During the 61st edition of the Cannes Film Festival (2008), GIFF announced a partnership with the Cinéfondation Résidence, created by the Cannes Film Festival, to launch a program called the MexiCannes Summer Residence Program. Serving as an extension to the Cinéfondation Residence, which yearly selects a dozen of the very best young filmmakers in the world (in addition to 2 of the top Mexican filmmakers on special scholarship from GIFF) and offers them a platform designed to propel their careers. The program includes private master’s classes, workshops and meetings with producers, distributors and film financiers during the International Pitching Market, helping them secure financing for their film projects. Since the second session of the yearly Résidence runs until mid-July, just before GIFF begins, this is the first opportunity for many producers to learn about these projects and meet the filmmakers themselves.
Yearly the festival contends with the participation of a guest country of honor, which presents the best of its country’s film, music and culture. By way of special delegates who offer conferences, workshops, retrospectives, as well as present their country’s industry; this cultural exchange reinforces the relationships between the creators of both nations while promoting artistic co-production. In previous years Canada, Spain, Germany, Brazil, France, the U.S.A., India, the United Kingdom, Argentina and South Korea have all been Spotlight Countries. For the upcoming 15th edition of the festival in July of 2012 the festival will host the Netherlands as their most honored guests.
Some of the world-recognized film institutions that have participated in the past include: Cannes Film Festival, Festival International du Court Métrage à Clermont-Ferrand, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, Museo del Cine (Argentina), BAFICI, UK Film Council, Dazzle Short Film Label, East End Film Festival, Royal College of Art, encounters short film festival, British Film Institute, Film 4, rendez-vous pictures, FFRESH, Lipstick Cherry, Scottish Screen, Warp X, Lifesize Pictures, Cinema Extreme, Aardman Animation, The Channel 4 British Documentary Foundation, Edinburgh International Film Festival, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Interfilm Berlin, Festival de Cine de Huesca, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Canal+, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Film Institute, Museum of Modern Art, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Texas Archive of the Moving Image, Frameline, Outfest, MIX NYC, South by Southwest, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Sundance Institute, the Vancouver Film School, and the University of Southern California and the University of Texas at Austin film departments.
Each edition of GIFF has managed a central theme. Previous themes have included: “In the Land of the Blind”, “Seven Virtues and Seven Sins”, “Censorship, Self-Censorship and Provocation”, “Breaking Out”, “Identity”, “Liberty” and “Tolerance”. Each festival features special week-long programs of classic films dedicated to each theme and invites international filmmakers, writers, researchers and historians to give conferences on the same.