Riviera Maya Film Fest Making a Name for Itself

2012-32 REP To the Wonder H

Boos at Venice for Malick's meditative drama. Affleck didn't attend the Toronto premiere.

The fest, which many now consider to be a top-tier Mexican cinema event, closed on Saturday with a screening of Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder."

MEXICO CITY -- Pedro Gonzalez Rubio's Japan-set documentary Inori and Hari Sama's inner-city drama Awakening Dust shared top honors at Mexico's up-and-coming Riviera Maya Film Festival.

Now in its 2nd edition, the film fest closed on Saturday with a screening of Terrence Malick's To the Wonder. Owing some of its rapid success to its prime location -- guests can catch nightly screenings on the white-sand beaches of the Mexican Caribbean -- the festival is also winning folks over for its quality programming.

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Of course, star power always helps a nascent film fest as well. This year's special guests included Patricia Arquette, Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Hudgens and Christian Slater. Last year's edition drew big-name talent such as Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke and Susan Sarandon.

Gonzalez Rubio's Inori focuses on life in Kannogawa, Japan, a beautiful but desolate town inhabited exclusively by senior citizens. Black Bull, Gonzalez Rubio's first documentary, was executive produced by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Hari Sama's Awakening Dust, the fest's other big winner, centers on a homeless man fighting for his life on the mean streets of a working-class Mexico City neighborhood.

Also walking away with a jury prize was Jose Luis Valle's revenge drama The Searches. The Last Picture, an experimental comedy about the end of the world, walked away with a cash prize awarded by the works-in-progress section.