By ROBERT KOEHLER
28 awards is obviously way too many to hand out at the end of a festival, but it’s commonplace at Guadalajara. The one good thing about doling out so many is that a few will hit the mark….even while most are frankly ridiculous. Those would be the laurels loaded on worthless dreck like Gerardo Tort’s embarrassing Viaje Redondo and Cronicas Chilangas, another one of those post-Amores Perros multi-character, multi-track scenarios I noted in a previous post on the sorry state of this batch of competing Mexican films. With so many prizes, so many films, no jury in Guadalajara apparently saw it in their heart to give something to Carlos Serrano’s El Arbol, which, along with Gerardo Naranjo’s I’m Gonna Explode (strongly embraced at AFI Fest last year), was by light-years the best Mexican work in the competition. Perhaps they permitted the poor video projection to get between them and the film, but that was their fault, not Serrano’s.
No, the only really interesting prize–oh, did we mention that Alejo Hoijman’s fairly fraudulent “documentary,” Unidad 25 (which premiered at BAFICI a whole year ago) won best Iberoamerican doc, the deserving Those Who Remain by Carlos Hagerman and Juan Carlos Rulfo won Mexican doc, while Cladia Llosa won top Iberoamerican feature for her Berlinale Bear-winning Milk of Sorrows and the aforementioned Round Trip nabbed best Mexican feature?—was the special prize for best Iberoamerican feature to Miguel Gomes’ Our Beloved Month of August. Gomes was never going to win outright–recall Senor Ripstein’s “Jackson Pollack” comments in a previous post–but Ripstein’s jury clearly staged a rebellion against him, insisting on some kind of prize for Gomes’ unclassifiable masterpiece. Good that they did: Festival juries can send messages, and the message sent was hopefully heard in Guadalajara….and that is this: program more films like Our Beloved Month of August. It may do nothing to stop more Round Trip‘s from doing their thing, but at least it’s there, proposing an alternative to bad films.