Latino Buzz: Fénix Iberoamerican Film Awards

Latino Buzz: Fénix Iberoamerican Film Awards

The first Fénix Iberoamerican Film Awards, (Phoenix Awards) highlighting and celebrating cinema made in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal as well as applauding the professionals involved was inaugurated by Cinema 23 this October 30th, a couple days before Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, one of the most important holidays in México. The event brought together hundreds of figures from the Iberoamerican film community who celebrated the well-deserved recognition to their work and to their dedication. At the same time, the event served to strengthen relationships among the diverse industries and will continuously help forge the region’s identity.  

Aside from enumerating the awards here, we wish to show how the films’ dissemination throughout the world is, in fact succeeding by showing sales agents and commercial distributors, some of many festivals the films played, and some of the awards won.

Nominees in twelve categories were chosen from a shortlist of 58 feature films and 16 documentaries in the region and awarded by a jury made up of – among others – Luis Tosar, Wagner Moura, Daniel Hendler, Selton Mello, José María Yazpik, Maria de Medeiros, Paulina García, Amat Escalante, Fernando Meirelles, Rodrigo García, Sebastián Lelio, Rodrigo Pla. 

Feature Film category

Winner"The Golden Cage" ("La Juala de oro") by Diego Quemada-Díez, a coproduction of Guatemala, Spain and Mexico, since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard in 2013 where Quemada-Díez won A Certain Talent Award for his directing work and the ensemble cast has received a total of 67 awards, including 9 Ariel awards by the Mexican Film Academy: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best First Feature, Best Actor, Best Upcoming Actor, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Music. It also won Best Picture, Best Editing and Best Sound at the Fenix Awards. Producers sold to Benelux – Wild
Bunch Benelux
, France – Pretty
 , Mexico – Canibal
,, Portugal – Legendmain
, Spain – Golem
, Taiwan – Maison
, U.K. – Peccadillo

Other contenders:

"Club Sandwich" by Fernando Eimbcke, a Mexican production, screened in Toronto International Film Festival 2013, San Sebastian 2013 among many others. International sales agent (ISA) Funny Balloons sold the film to Benelux – ABC – Cinemien, Brazil–Esfera Filmes, Mexico–Cine Pantera, Poland–Art House, Turkey–Filma Ltd.

"Heli" by Amat Escalante, a Mexican production premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2013. ISA NDM sold to U.S.–Outsider
, Belgium–Film
Fest Gent
, Brazil–Zeta
, Canada–K
Films Amerique
and A-Z
, Denmark–Ost
For Paradis
, France–Le
, Greece–Ama
, Hungary–Cirko
Film Kft.
, Netherlands–Amstelfilm,
Gruppen As & Europafilm As
, Poland–Spectator,
Puerto Ric–Wiesner
, Serbia–Mcf
Megacom Film
, Spain–Savor
Ediciones, S.A.
, Sweden–Njutafilms
and Maywin
Films Ab
, Taiwan–Pomi
, Turkey–Filmarti
, U.K.–Network

"Jauja" by Lisandro Alonso, a coproduction of Argentina, Denmark, France and Mexico and winner of the FIPRESCI Award in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard 2014 where it debuted. It also played in Toronto and Busan among many other festivals.  ISA NDM, sold to U.S. — The Cinema Guild; Argentina–Distribution
Company Sudamericana S.A.
; Spain–Noucinemart-
Festival Internacional De Cinema D’autor De Barcelona
; U.K.–Soda

"Bad Hair" ("Pelo Malo") by Mariana Rondon, a coproduction of Venezuela, Peru,
Germany and Argentina premiered in Toronto 2013.  FiGa sold it to U.S. – Pragda,
, Brazil–Esfera
, Bulgaria–Sofia
International Film Festival – Art Fest Ltd.
, France–Pyramide
, Hungary — Cirko, Italy–Cineclub
, Latin America–Palmera
, Portugal — Nitrato
Film Festival Palic
, Switzerland —Look
Now! Filmdistribution
, U.K.–Axiom
Films International
, Venezuela–Centro
Nacional Autonomo De Cinematografia

Documentary Feature category

Winner: "Sobre la Marxa: the Creator of the Jungle" by Jordi Morató from Spain debuted at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.  

Other Contenders:

"Letter to a Father" of Edgardo Cozarinsky, a coproduction from France and Argentina screened at Mar del Plata, Cinema du reel 2014 (Competition), Vienna and Jerusalem among other festivals. Doc and FIlms has the international rights.

"Echo Mountain" ("Eco de la montaña") by Nicolás Echevarría, a coproduction of U.S. and Mexico, premiered at Guadalajara Film Festival and Cinema du Reel in 2014.

"And Now?  Remember Me" ("E agora? Lembra-me") by Joaquim Pinto from Portugal premiered at Locarno Film Festival 2013, has won 16 awards and 3 nominations and is distributed in France by Epicentre and by Midas in Portugal.
"Watch & Listen" by José Luis Torres Leiva

Best Female Role:

Leandra Leal ("A Wolf At the Door" from Brazil premiered at Toronto FF 2013.  ISA: IM Global/Mundial sold to U.S.–Film Movement and Outsider Pictures, Benelux—CDC United Network, Canada–A-Z Films, Israel–United King Video Ltd., Latin America–Palmera International, So. Korea —Korean Film Art Center Baekdu-Daegan Films Co., Ltd, Portugal–Vendetta Filmes, Spain–Betta Pictures, Turkey–Moviebox

Other Contenders:

Marian Álvarez ("The Wound" aka "La Herida" – ISA: Imagina, premiered San Sebastian FF where the Special jury prize / Silver Shell for best actress went to Marian Álvarez), Samantha Castillo ("Bad Hair")

Paulina García ("Illiterate" – ISA: Habanero, screened at Guadalajara FICG 2014, SANFIC – Santiago International Film Festival – Best Picture Audience award , Venice Film Festival – Settimana della Critica – Closing Film, Chicago International Film Festival – New Directors Competition, Sao Paulo International Film Festival – New Directors Competition )

Karen Martinez ("The Golden Cage")

Best Male Role

Viggo Mortensen ("Cockaigne" aka "Jauja")

Other Contenders:

Fernando Bacilio ("Mute" aka "El Mudo" by Daniel Vega premiered at Toronto in 2013.  UDI sold it to Encore for airlines)

Alex Brendemühl ("Stella cadente" aka "Falling Star" by Luis
 from Spain screened in BAFICI (Buenos Aires) 2014 Panorama, San Sebastian 2014 Made in Spain, Gent IFF 2014 Feature Films, Rotterdam IFFR 2014 (Tiger Competition).  ISA: NDM sold it to Germany–Salzgeber
& Co. Medien Gmbh
Puerto Rico–Wiesner
, Spain–Vercine)

Brandon Lopez ("The Golden Cage")

Antonio de la Torre ("Cannibal" by Manuel Martin Cuenca, a coproduction of 

Spain, Romania, Russia, France premiered at Toronto and San Sebastian 2013.  ISA Film Factory sold it to U.S. – Film
, Belgium–Film
Fest Gent
, Hong Kong–Encore
Inflight Limited
-, Japan–Broadmedia
Studios Corporation
, Latin America–Palmera
, Spain–Mod
, Taiwan–Creative
Century Entertainment Co., Ltd.

Eight other awards (listed below) were granted in the photography category, costumes, art direction, sound, music, editing and screenplay.  

Four special awards were also presented:

The Latin American Festival Award, decided by the Advisory Council Cinema23 went to the Havana Film Festival (Festival de Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano).  On December 3, 1979, over five hundred film professionals, mainly from Latin America, met in Havana, Cuba, for the inaugural Festival of New Latin American Cinema, which in its own words, "sought to build a space to identify and disseminate films whose significance and artistic values enrich and reaffirm American and Caribbean cultural identity where rich dialogue between film professionals, students and the informed public and critics gather". For decades and through its multiple realities Havana has played a role in community building around film as an art form and as an incentive for social reflection.

The work of more than three decades by a team led today by Ivan Giroud and which survives the noble and generous spirit of its founder, Alfredo Guevara, and those like Santiago Alvarez and Gabriel García Márquez, who have accompanied him from his beginnings, deserves to be recognized by those who think that culture is a way that allows us to approach, meet, recognize and move away from violence towards a better world. "With this award go our admiration and our gratitude to the Festival of New Latin American Cinema of Havana." 

The Critics’ Award, selected by FIPRESCI (Federation International Film Critics) went to the Brazilian writer José Carlos Avellar for his critical work. An admired and appreciated writer, critic, teacher and programmer, Avellar worked for over twenty years for the newspaper Jornal do Brasil, and has published six books on Brazilian and Latin American cinema. The former vice-president of FIPRESCI is also Berlinale’s delegate in Brazil. More information and examples of his work can be found in his website

Recognition of the Exhibition Sector, awarded by the leading exhibitors in the region went to Mexican actor and producer, Eugenio Derbez, for "No se aceptan devoluciones" ("Instructions Not Included").  

The resurgence of Mexican films which began in 2001 with the all-time
hit "Amores Perros" by Alejandro González Iñárritu and
which also introduced Gael Garcia Bernal to the public (U.S. box office
worldwide $20,908,467) and "El crimen del Padre Amaro" in 2002 (U.S. box
office $5,717,044, worldwide: $26,996,738) up until the hits, "Nosotros
los Nobles" and "No se aceptan devoluciones" had the highest number
admissions than any other Mexican film.  Twelve years later, in six
weeks "No se aceptan devolucions"  outgrossed both "Amores"
and "El crimen" combined. México Televisa’s
Videocine Mexican box office was US $44,882,061 and U.S. box office was $44,143,000.  This is truly an exhibitor’s dream movie.

sooner had "Los Nobles" swept the Mexican box-office off its feet than
another Mexican movie, independently produced by Monica Lozano’s México
City-based Alebrije Cine y Video, "Instructions Not Included" was
released — first in the U.S. by Pantelion on August 30, 2013, almost
three weeks before its Mexican release on September 20, 2013. The two
countries grossed an equal amount. Moreover, Videocine released the film
on 1,500 prints similar to a major release of a film such as "Batman".
 Through the Cinepolis chain’s use of satellite, these 1,500 prints were
able to show on 2,500 screens.   This represents both a new release
pattern and a new type of Mexican film.  
Mexican films which were meant for the Mexican and Mexican-American
audience (as opposed to those targeted to the art house audiences) were
perceived as too Mexican by their U.S. target and they were released in
the U.S. only after the Mexican release, and by that time, piracy had
done its work in the U.S. and the film lacked the prestige of an
"American" film.  This film and the previous film, "The Noble Family",
are not typically Mexican.  Their storyline could be transposed
anywhere, and in fact "The Noble Family" remake rights have been sold to
U.S.  In addition, releasing the film first in the U.S. changes the
perception of the film in México.  Being such a success in U.S. paves
the way for its success in México as if it were validated as a "good"

 Added to these two elements is the third key to success, Eugenio
Derbez, the director and star of "Instructions", is a major TV comedy
star in México and is known by all Mexicans wherever they reside.
Mexican TV is quite powerful, it has a duopoly made by Televisa and TV
Azteca. Derbez comes from Televisa. The film was also shot in English
and Spanish and takes place in the U.S.  Finally, Derbez himself and
former head of production at Pantelion, Ben Odell, have now established a
production company, 3 Spas, pronounced "Tres Paz" which funnily enough
sounds like "tripas" or "guts".  Reese Witherspoon whose film "Wild"
opened the festival said that she had approached Derbez for a film she
was producing already, but he was busy.  However, she hopes they will
soon find a project to do together.  How great that will be for the
exhibitors, the distributors and the audiences around the world!

The Phoenix Lifetime Achievement Award,
which is awarded by the different academies and film associations in
all the differenct countries of the region and announced by the Mexican
Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences, went to Arturo Ripstein.
 Recognized as one of the great masters in the history of Mexican
cinema, Ripstein said, "I’m glad to say that a lifetime achievement
award is usually given when one is finished with everything. But I am
pleased to say that I still need a bit of experience, because next week I
start my new film. I’ve been practicing this craft half a century, and
this (the Phoenix Award ) symbolizes what it has really cost me over the
past 50 years."

List of all winners include:

Narrative Film: Diego Quemada-Diez ("La Jaula de Oro")

Documentary Film: Jordi Morato ("Sobre la Marxa")

: Amat Escalante y Gabriel Reyes ("Heli")

Director: Amat Escalante ("Heli")

Photography: Julián Apezteguia ("El ardor")

Art Design: José Luis Arrizabalaga y Arturo García ("Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi")

Editing: Paloma López Carrillo y Felipe Gómez ("La Jaula de Oro")

Costume Design: Chris Garrido ("Tatuagem")

Sound Design: Matías Barberis, Raúl Locatelli y Jaime Baksht ("La Jaula de oro")

Music: Joan Valent ("Las brujas de Zugarramurdi")

Lead Actor: Viggo Mortensen ("Jauja")

Lead Actress: Leandra Leal ("A Wolf at the Door")

Diego Quemada-Diez Receives the Award for Best Narrative Film for "La Jaula de Oro"

Amat Escalante Receives the Award for Best Director for "Heli"

Viggo Mortensen Receives the Award for Best Lead Actor for "Jauja"

Leandra Leal Receives the Award for Best Lead Actress for "A Wolf at the Door"

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