'Milk' to open Mexico film festival

FICCO will kick off Feb. 17 with biopic

MEXICO CITY -- Gus Van Sant's biopic "Milk" will open the sixth edition of the Mexico City Contemporary International Film Festival, organizers said Wednesday.

Known as the FICCO, the fest, which runs Feb. 17-March 1, expects to have about 100 international guests, including American photographer-filmmaker William Klein. But there appears to be a notable absence of star power this edition. Van Sant and "Milk" actors Sean Penn and Diego Luna have yet to confirm that they'll be attending the opener.

In all, 180 films from Mexico and abroad will unspool in the nation's capital, including 47 titles competing in the official fiction and documentary sections.

FICCO co-founder Paula Astorga resigned as festival director last year, prompting her talented programmers to step down as well. Industry sources say that they no longer shared festival sponsor Cinemex's vision. Raquel Cajiga, who has a background in tourism and media, replaced Astorga.

Cajiga told reporters at a Wednesday news conference that the festival continues to offer solid programming, including gala screenings of Festival de Cannes Palme d'Or winner "The Class" and "Waltz With Bashir," which recently nabbed a Golden Globe for best foreign-language picture.

In keeping with previous editions, about 95% of FICCO's titles do not have distribution deals in Mexico.