Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Today the Oaxaca Lending Library played host to Oaxaca FilmFest4 founder and artistic director, Ramiz Adeeb Azar.  He and 4 members of the festival staff came to the library to “pitch” the festival, which opens September 21 and runs through the 28th.  (Note:  it has moved from November to September).  It wasn’t a hard sell, as many of us have been following it since it began in 2010.  And, I’ve got to say, it’s come a long way in a short amount of time.  According to Ramiz, it has…

  • Grown to be one of the Largest International Film Festivals in Latin America
  • Discovered over a dozen films that have gone onto commercial success
  • Created a highly competitive Script Writing Competition.
  • Created “Pitch It”; a unique platform that allows screenwriters to sell their scripts to industry executives around the globe
  • Conducted the longest University Rally ever (10 days throughout the entire state!)
  • Rolled out Academia; a five-day training program designed to enhance Festival Attendees’ self-distribution skills
  •  Developed Academia Exchange; a unique exchange between filmmakers and students

  • Gained membership of the Mexican Film Festival Association (La Red Mexicana de Festivales Cinematográficos) and in 2013 was the host of their national conference
  • Gained recognition as an official IMDB Film Festival

The festival has already set up shop in Plaza San Jerónimo (on Macedonio Alcalá) where staff and volunteers are hard at work and, like last year, the site will serve as the festival’s Hospitality and Information Center.

If you love film, but have never been to a film festival, I highly encourage you to give it a try.  Prior to relocating to Oaxaca, for 7 years, one of the highlights of my calendar year was volunteering at the Mill Valley Film Festival.  Besides being a lot of fun (never forget, on my hands and knees mopping up spilled red wine at the feet of Katherine Ross and Sam Elliot), I had the opportunity to see some truly wonderful films — especially shorts and documentaries that are rarely shown in the big chain multiplexes.  The MVFF was one of the things I missed most (along with crusty sourdough bread and being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet) when I moved down here.

However, along came the Oaxaca FilmFest and, though it didn’t satisfy my craving for sourdough bread or cause new plumbing to be installed in Oaxaca, it does come with a well-considered, eclectic, and always creative selection of films (feature-length and shorts) from all over the world.

Last year, El último hielero (The Last Ice Merchant) a touching documentary from Equador was a favorite of mine, as was The Cart, a humorous short from Russia.  And, if the two short films Ramiz showed today —  the animated, Sleight of Hand and the very moving, Part of the Change — were any indication, the selectors did a terrific job again this year.  So, if you are in Oaxaca, get thee to the Oaxaca FilmFest4 information center at Plaza San Jerónimo and pick up your festival schedule or download it from the festival website.

FYI:  All screenings are public and free (except Cinemex and Foundation Nights) and every film is projected in its original language, with Spanish, English, or dual subtitles.

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Early Saturday evening, the Plaza de la Danza played host to the Festival Día de Reyes, an event to delight and distribute a kilometer of donated toys to disadvantaged children.  The Kings had kids and their parents seeing double.


Lines began forming two hours in advance to be up-front and close to the stage, all the better to be chosen to participate in the games and entertainment that was also part of the festivities.

P1040341To the delight of the crowd, three luchadores took the stage to recruit contestants for a mystery contest.


The music came up and Oaxaca’s kids began going, “Gangnam Style” — albeit, some more enthusiastically than others — and all got prizes.

Psy may have sung and danced his last “Gangnam Style” on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, however, it remains alive and well in Oaxaca!

According to this morning’s Noticias, 6,500 toys (donated by citizens, city government entities, foundations, and businesses) were given to each child present and all received a piece of rosca de Reyes.


As they say, a good time was had by all!

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Where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother, they’re here.*

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Plaza de la Danza, Oaxaca, December 10 — Día Internacional del Payaso (International Day of the Clown).  Gracias, Universidad José Vasconcelos.

If, like me, you suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns), Oaxaca is a great place for a little immersion therapy.  Clowns are seen everywhere and everyday; waiting for the bus, walking their kids to school, as well as performing in parks and plazas.  Not so scary anymore!

* Send in the Clowns by Stephen Sondheim

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Still recovering from last week’s Día de los Muertos celebrations, another marathon of activities is upon us — last night the third Oaxaca FilmFest opened.  With 10 days, 25 venues, 300 films, 5 days of academic programs, among many other events, I can see it’s going to be no rest for the weary!

FilmFest3 logo projected on screen

So, with Golden Key passes (approx. US$11.50) hanging from our necks, last night my indomitable 86-year old neighbor and I walked down to the festival’s headquarters at Plaza San Jerónimo on the Alcalá for the opening night cocktail party.  Gringos and international filmmakers mingled with a predominantly young and hip Oaxaqueño crowd.  Needless to say, cervesas, mezcal, and horchata flowed freely, accompanied by yummy (though less plentiful) botanas.

We eventually wound our way over to Teatro Juárez to hear founder and artistic director, Ramiz Adeeb Azar, welcome an almost full house, open the festival, and introduce the three opening night films:  shorts, Postmodern Times from Austria and The Game from Poland and feature length film, Tilt from Bulgaria and Germany.  All three were gripping, thought provoking, and held the audience’s attention.  (Chris, they all passed the Low Cough Principle test.)  It was a good start!

Ramiz Adeeb Azar standing at podium

Ramiz Adeeb Azar

During the course of the evening, we spoke with two American screenwriters, who each have scripts entered in a Script Competition, and American filmmaker Matt Dunnerstick, whose film, The Custom Mary, will be screened tonight and again later in the festival.  It’s truly an international festival and (at least last night) all the films were subtitled in both Spanish and English, as is all the program material.

I can’t believe how much bigger and more professional this festival has gotten in only three years.  I attended in 2010, the first year, and coming off eight years of volunteering at the Mill Valley Film Festival and attending for many more, I was underwhelmed and thus ignored last year’s Oaxaca FilmFest.  All I can say is, you’ve come a long way, baby!  I’m glad I’ve got my Golden Key pass and, like these folks, I will be intently studying my program booklet and scheduling grid.

Man and woman sitting reading program

I’ll see you at the movies!!!

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Hip hop is probably not the first thing that pops to mind when you think of Oaxaca.  However, I can assure you, there is more to Oaxaca than colonial architecture, religious processions, colorful traje (costume), and traditional music.  As repeated blockades and occupations attest, and the El Silencio Mata posters illustrate, there are voices struggling to be heard.

For one of those voices, check out this trailer from the documentary film, Cuando Una Mujer Avanza (When a Woman Takes a Step Forward), about “Mare” a young Zapotec hip hop artist from Oaxaca.  As the promo states, her unique life experience is a rarely heard perspective on life and community liberation.  As an up and coming MC in a state known for popular and indigenous rebellion, Mare’s life and experience has been channeled into very powerful and conscious rapping and singing.

Update:  Check out the article, Mare Is a Rapper Hell-Bent on Equality for Women in Mexico.

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