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Morelia the beautiful

If you haven't gone to Morelia you cannot understand how beautiful this little town is. Robert and I visited this town in Mexico's Michoacan state, along my parents, two years ago for the Day of the Dead. The Morelia International Film Festival had just happened and there were tons of signs everywhere. I told Robert: "next year we will come with the film". Well, it took two years, and it was only me, but yes, I did return with the film last October 5. Shannon Kelley (Morelia's Artistic Director and former Sundance Documentary Fund Director), who invited us to the festival, gave it a special privileged spot within the festival: Cine sin Fronteras, "Cinema without borders".

This was the first screening outside the US and I was a bit nervous. It was packed and I was shocked to hear EVERYONE talking during the screening! I was about to go to the "talkers" and tell them to shut up when I asked someone from the festival "is this normal!? They don't stop taking!". He said "oh, that's very good, that's what normally happens when they like it -they talk about it!". Uh? OK, then that was good. What followed was an intelligent, fascinating discussion about the film, international politics, global labor, and the future of Latin America.

The second screening was actually an open air screening FOR the people of Morelia: the festival closes a street next to the cathedral, and neither the cars with music going by, or even the fireworks that went on during the screening (!) distracted this crowd of over 250 people from watching the film. 90% of the people stayed for the Q&A- if the first Q&A was interesting, this one was mind blowing: people kept clapping in ovation to my answers (despite my disclaimers that I was not an "expert" in international economics). Michoacán is a state with a very high percentage of migrants, and as people explained, there are whole villages where the men have all left. Here's a selection of the questions I was asked, which I managed to write in a napkin during dinner afterwards: "What's the solution so that people don't have to leave our land?" "How did people in the US respond?" "With some many political prisoners in the US, was there a political backlash against the protesters?" "How's the situation in the film similar to other countries in Europe with their immigrant population?" "Is it a coincidence that most of the people and organizers in the film are women?" "Do Americans understand us?" "How can we prosper in Latin America?" "How can we use the film here in Mexico?"

The festival added a 4th screening... After this, I left with the determination of retuning to Mexico and distributing the film across the country.

The film received a lot of attention and our second La Jornada article. What was funny is that our first screening happened at the time than the premiere of Mexican director Carlos Reygadas's Silent Light (Special Jury Price at Cannes) so the press didn't even see us that day. So next day I went to the press room and just sat there! Then it all came fast and I spent two days non-stop, getting into other publications, on-line magazines, radio and local TV.

And the rest? Well you can imagine: good movies, and good parties. Here's a selection of people and parties that I did not miss!:

One of the best of the festival was the amazing presence of Steven Frears and Bertrand Taverier, who I met, but whose presentations I missed while waiting to meet a TV journalist for an interview. I was conflicted : do I go to the screenings and lectures, which I simply love doing, and advance my film knowledge and "career", or do I "take care of the film", and do the best I can for it? Sometimes I feel like the mother of the creature, giving (even giving up) everything for it. It's just so hard to choose, because the film has become such an integrant part of my life...

When one day, some time ago, while visiting my parents in Madrid, Robert and I returned home tired and complaining after a whole day walking and visiting Madrid, my father said with irony: "Aahh.. difficult life of a tourist!" So now I remember his words and I cannot help but exclaim: "Aahh... difficult life of a filmmaker"...



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