Our take: While Morelia is one of the most beloved festivals in North America, it rarely screens many (any) English-language docs. But they more than make up for that with Ambulante, the traveling documentary festival they co-founded with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna a few years ago. Essentially taking documentary to the people in every region of Mexico, Ambulante is a visionary experiment in what a documentary festival can be. In addition, the programming team has a curatorial vision - the docs they program are artistically brave and show a diversity of subject that's unique in Latin America.
The downside: The Morelia slots are few and far between, at least for their North American neighbors. The traveling aspect of Ambulante means that you may not be with that many other filmmakers.
Selection of films screened at 2009 Ambulante: BURMA VJ, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, GOGOL BORDELLO NON-STOP, THE ENGLISH SURGEON, THOSE WHO REMAIN, SOULWAX: PART OF THE WEEKEND NEVER DIES, UP THE YANGTZE
Selection of films screened at 2009 Morelia: EL GENERAL, SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION
Our coverage of Ambulante here.
Others thoughts on Ambulante:
Filmmaker: "A visionary idea and a real alternative to a
theatrical run in a whole country. Fabulous - taking great docs out to over 20 Mexican
towns and cities where people would never hear of such things, let alone see
them. The future of non fiction distribution for sure… Elena,
Roxanne, Vanessa and all the gang down there are brilliant, and my opening
night slot for them this year was a real buzz… Wonderful
hosts – someone with me full time, and even a per diem!!"
We went to Mexico City and Oaxaca. Everything paid for. Who doesn’t want to
hang with Gael and Diego??"
Filmmaker: "chaotic but awesome fest - especially for Latino filmmakers."
Industry: "It feels kind of chaotic but I like the "take it to the people" approach."
Industry: "great programming!"
Others thoughts on Morelia:
Filmmaker: "shockingly wonderful, my favorite small festival becuase there were so many people there in love with the craft of filmmaking and just as attentive to docs as fiction -- although perhaps I just got lucky with my fellow guests that year."
Filmmaker: "Really magical place, and fantastic local audiences."
Filmmaker: "FABULOUS envionrment, great crowds, cute old venues. Great fimmaker lounge, easy to meet people. Very good docs, not great narratives. Amazing experience. All was paid for."
Industry: "small and undiscovered festival – they’re great hosts, and nice place to network with key industry folk (whom they also invite). Beware, it is Mexico, and most people do get ill at some point, but the fest staff was incredibly helpful and friendly. One of my faves to attend. Programming-wise, a great place for Mexican film . I saw the premiere of THOSE WHO REMAIN last year, and there was nothing like the audience support for that film. Tears galore! "
Industry: "I think they seem to be the up-and-comer in Mexico. In the context of Mexico, it’s considered the second festival, behind Guadalahara, but it’s actually the important one. Filmmaker hospitality is really great."
Industry: "Unbelievable. So, so special. Amazing audiences, gorgeous food, great restaurants. They have incredible programming. It’s a very, very special event. Absolutely my favorite of the festivals in Mexico. It’s just too bad that they don’t show non-Latino films."
Industry: "Wonderful festival especially for location and Latino films."