'Desert' hot at Guadalajara fest


GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Rodrigo Pla's sophomore feature, "The Desert Within," scorched the competition Friday at the 23rd annual Guadalajara International Film Festival, garnering eight prizes at Mexico's biggest movie event of the year.

The Imcine/Cine Lumiere-produced film won best Mexican picture, screenplay, cinematography and the Audience Award, among other prizes.

Set against the backdrop of Mexico's Cristero War, "Desert" tells the story of a family struggling to overcome divine punishment. It will bow in Mexico later this year.

"(Mexico's) Gussi Artecinema has North American and Latin American distribution rights," producer German Mendez said on the sidelines of a Friday news conference.

Best Ibero-American picture went to Spanish director Gerardo Olivares' immigrant-themed "14 Kilometers," a Wanda Vision/Explora Films production.

"Lake Tahoe," which recently won the FIPRESCI Prize and Alfred Bauer Award at the Berlinale, grabbed the best director nod for Mexican helmer Fernando Eimbcke. Paris-based sales agent Funny Balloons has sold the picture to a dozen territories and is shopping for a U.S. distribution deal.

Best first works went to the Uruguay-France-Brazil co-production "The Pope's Toilet" in the Ibero-American category and to the comedy "Meet the Head of Juan Perez" in the Mexican section.

The FIPRESCI jury gave the nod to the Costa Rica-France co-production "El Camino" from Russian-born director Ishtar Yasin.

In the documentary section, the Uruguay-Spain-France co-production "Vengo de un Avion que Cayo en las Montanas" and Mexico's "Trazando Aleida" shared top honors.

Additionally, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced it will submit "Desert" and "Lake Tahoe" for consideration for the 2009 Golden Globe awards.

Guadalajara is one of Latin America's top movie showcases. Among other pictures generating considerable buzz during the weeklong festival were Brazilian director Jose Padilha's police drama "Elite Squad" and Argentine helmer Albertina Carri's controversial drama "La Rabia."

Festival director Jorge Sanchez said that this year's edition of the film fest drew 81,000 spectators.

A complete list of winners follows:

Ibero-American section

Best picture
"14 Kilometers" (Spain)

Special mention
"El Camino" (Costa Rica)

Special jury prize
"La Otra Orilla" (Portugal)

Best first work
"The Pope's Toilet" (Uruguay-Brazil-France)

Best director
Eliseo Subiela, "No Mires Para Abajo"

Best screenplay
Matharias, "Iciar Bollain y Tatiana Rodriguez"

Best actor
Marlon Moreno, "Perro Come Perro"

Best actress
Maria d'Aires, "La Otra Orilla"

Best cinematography
"Los Desafinados"

Mexican section

Best picture
"The Desert Within"

Best first work
"Meet the Head of Juan Perez"

Best director
Fernando Eimbcke, "Lake Tahoe"

Best screenplay
"The Desert Within," Rodrigo Pla and Laura Santullo

Best actor
Mario Zaragoza, "The Desert Within"

Best actress
Dolores Heredia, "The Desert Within"

"The Desert Within"

Mezcal Prize
"The Desert Within"

Audience Award
"The Desert Within"

Ibero-American documentary

Best picture
"Vengo de un Avion que Cayo en las Montanas"

Special mention

Mexican documentary

Best picture
Trazando Aleida

Special mention
Nino Fidencio


Best Ibero-American short
"Diente por Ojo" (Spain)

Best Mexican short
"Cafe Paraiso"

Best Mexican animated short

Ibero-American special mention
"Un Ramo"

Mexican special mention
"Primer Movimiento para 20 Hombres en un Cuarto Vacio"

Other prizes

TV Espanol co-production prize
"Latinos" (Colombia)

"Siete Instantes"

"El Camino" (Costa Rica)