MIFF Travels to Costa Rica for Cinergia’s Encuentros Jury

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Last month I traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, to serve on the 2013 Encuentros jury for the Cinergia Foundation. This marvelous organization, which supports audiovisual production for Central American and Cuban filmmakers with a variety of programs and grants, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and their work in the region is more important than ever.   It’s led by the unique Maria Lourdes Cortés, a colorful personality and an indefatigable promoter of the cinematic arts in Central America.
My esteemed colleagues included Violet Bava, programmer of Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente de Buenos Aires (BAFICI) and director of the accompanying Buenos Aires Lab; Jaume Ripoll, founder of Spain’s Filmin;  Raúl Zambrano, Latin American programmer for the world’s largest documentary festival, IDFA of Amsterdam; Erick González, programmer for Chile’s Valdivia Film Festival and France’s Cinelatino Festival of Toulouse; Rémi Bonhomme, program manager for Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique, and Janneke Langelaan, programmer and coordinator of the Hubert Bals Fund at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

In all, we considered 4 films screened as works-in-progress and 12 project pitches in various stages of pre-production development (10 features, 2 documentaries).  Of the 16 projects, we were able to recognize 6 with special distinctions, and I was happy to be part of a process that provided support to these deserving filmmakers.  The cumulative effect of the entire process, however, was to feel that (even beyond the prize winners), there is a great spirit, a terrific creative energy brewing in the region.  

MIFF executive director Jaie Laplante, All About the Feathers director Neto Villalobos
In a repeat of his $10,000 win at Miami International Film Festival’s Encuentros in March, Tico filmmaker Neto Villalobos was awarded the top prize from Cinergia, $5,000 more towards the completion of his delightful comedy All About the Feathers (Por las plumas).   My fellow jury members were kind enough to allow me to present Neto with the prize at the closing night awards ceremony!

It seems assured that Villalobos’ film, which may be the first boy-meets-rooster, boy-loses-rooster, boy-gets-a-life movie ever made, will be a significant contender at major film festivals throughout the coming season.   News of its official world premiere will soon be made public.
Melaza director Carlos Lechuga, MDC media relations director Alejandro Rios; scene from Melaza
Two other MIFF alumni won major prizes as well.  Janneke Langelaan presented to Cuba¹s director Carlos Lechuga (Melaza, MIFF 2013) and producer Claudia Calviño (Juan of the Dead, MIFF 2012) with $5,000 cash from the Hubert Bals Fund for their next project, Santa y Delfin, a film inspired by the life of Cuban writer Delfin Prats.  And Guatamalan filmmaker  Julio Hernández Cordón, who won MIFF’s 2011 Knight Ibero-American Grand Prize with Marimbas from Hell, was awarded 2 prizes: a DCP conversion package for his soon-to-be-completed 5th film, I Wish The Sun Would Hide Me (Ojalá el sol me esconda), and another $5,000 toward the development of his 6th film, the visionary I Promise You Anarchy (Te prometo anarquía), being coproduced with Mexico’s Film Interior13 and Colombia’s Burning Blue.
Scene from Marimbas from Hell; director Julio Hernández Cordón at MIFF 2011

Finally, we selected two emerging filmmakers not yet well known on the international stage, for development assistance.  The young Tico producer Karolina Hernandez presented two projects at Cinergia (El baile y el salon by Iván Porras, and the literally “omnibus” film Bus al sur), and she will be traveling to the Rotterdam Lab next January 2014 to meet and participate in international production workshops.  And the new Guatemalan director Cesar Diaz, who presented a very personal story called Uspantán, will travel to Colon, Argentina this fall to participate in creative development workshops at TyPA’s (Teoría y Práctica de las Artes) Taller Colón de Análisis de Proyectos Cinematográficos.

Congratulations to all who presented their projects.  Many of those we were not able to recognize with prizes or support are also fascinating, films that I hope get made and will look forward to seeing.  —­ Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.