Guadalajara fest hands out awards

'Portraits,' 'Perpetuum Mobile' come out on top

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Carlos Gaviria's Colombian road movie "Portraits in a Sea of Lies" and Nicolas Pereda's minimalist drama "Perpetuum Mobile," a Mexico-Canada co-production, took top honors on Friday at the 25th edition of the Guadalajara International Film Festival.

"Portraits," Gaviria's freshman feature, revolves around a mute teenager who discovers dark secrets of her past while on a road trip with her cousin. Produced by Producciones Erwin Goggel, the film is seeking international distribution. Actress Paola Baldion nabbed best actress.

The austere drama "Perpetuum Mobile," produced by En Chinga Films, marks the second big victory on the Mexican film circuit for Pereda. His previous work, "Donde Estan Sus Historias?" won the jury prize at the Morelia International Film Festival in 2007.

The jury gave best director nods to Mexican helmer Carlos Carrera for his ghost story "Of Childhood," while the Ibero-American prize went to Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastian Cordero for "Rabia," a thriller produced by Guillermo del Toro. "Rabia" star Gustavo Sanchez Parra won best actor in a tie with Pascual Loayza, who headlined the Bolivian drama "Southern District." Bolivia's "Southern District" also won best director and screenplay for Juan Carlos Valdivia.

Also coming up big here was Mexican writer-director Maria Novaro's drama "The Good Herbs," which racked up six prizes, including the audience award, best screenplay, cinematography and actress for Ursula Pruneda.

Overall, women filmmakers had a strong showing in Guadalajara. The FIPRESCI international critics prize went to Argentine director Natalia Smirnoff for "Puzzle" and Novaro for "The Good Herbs." Florence Jaguey, a French transplant living in Nicaragua, grabbed best first work for her gritty drama "La Yuma." In the Ibero-American documentary section, three women directors walked away with prizes, including best film for "Entre a Luz e a Sombra" from Brazilian director Luciana Burlamaqui.

Best Mexican documentary went to "Presumed Guilty," one of the most buzzed about Mexican films in years. Shot by two Mexican lawyers, it exposes the flaws of the Mexican justice system during a lengthy murder trial. It also won best doc at Morelia last year.

Every year Guadalajara selects four foreign-language Golden Globe submissions. This year's pictures making the list are "Rabia," Portraits," "Perpetuum Mobile" and "The Good Herbs."

Guadalajara, which ran from March 12-19, is one of Latin America's top film festivals, thanks in large part to its strong market presence. At Friday's awards ceremony, festival director Jorge Sanchez announced that he will be stepping down to pursue other activities. It has been rumored that he may be looking to head a new festival in Mexico City. Earlier this year, the Mexico City International Film Festival was canceled because of insufficient funds, leaving open the possibility of an upstart film fest to fill the void in the Mexican capital.