Baja International Film Festival Review - Taking the Art of Film to Another Coast


Atmosphere during the filmmaker reception at the Wirikuta Cactus Garden in Puerto Los Cabos, November 15, 2012. Photo Credit: John Parra/Getty Images

Celebrating Mexican history integrated and showcased through film, Cabo San Lucas was the home of the first Annual Baja International Film Festival (BIFF). Everyone loves a good movie, and what more can you ask for than to view great movies in the beautiful setting that back drops Cabo San Lucas. BIFF took place November 14-17th in Cabo San Lucas, and had promised to deliver the 'best of the best' of movies paired with a setting you can not compare. BIFF will proved to set the tone for the top 'must see' films for the upcoming year.

Abigail Ochse and AJ Buckley arrives at Los Cabos Marina during the Baja International Film Festival on November 16, 2012 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photo Credit: John Parra/Getty Images

Day two of the BIFF took place at Los Cabos Convention Center, where guests were able to enjoy a variety of food from outstanding local vendors which delivered decadent tasty bites while mingling. The convention center was backed by the beautiful natural setting and indoor vegetation as the live walls came to life which proved to add to the afternoon. After a day of watching impeccable film screenings and international shorts while mixing in the hospitality lounge guests made their way to the filmmaker reception.

Jorge Sanchez, Tony Safford, Mauricio Duran, Diego Luna, Peter Van Steemburg, Jonathan King and Lucero Solorzano attend a press conference at the Los Cabos Convention Center for the Baja Internationsl Film Festival on November 16, 2012 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

The filmmaker reception was held in the beautiful Wirikuta cactus garden. Amongst dinner, cocktails, and networking guests were able to enjoy 'Hecho En Mexico:Made in Mexico', a roller coaster through Mexican history and culture. The horizon was lit by candlelight which set the scene for what wast in store for the rest of the weekend.

Daniel Gillies and Rachael Leigh Cook attend the concert at Los Cabos Marina during the Baja International Film Festival on November 16, 2012 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photo Credit: John Parra/Getty Images

Day three continued with screenings at The Los Cabos Convention Center which included multiple screenings whre the cast and filmmakers were present. 'Miradas Multiples' (La Maquina Loca) was followed by a Q & A session with the director, Emilio Maille. Later on in the day Matt Dillion and Barry Gifford were on site for the 'City of Ghosts' screening.  The Hospitality Lounge was of course a huge hit as it was the central hub for people to network while grabbing a refreshing cocktail and munching on tasty finger foods and desserts.

As the evening came to a close, attendees relocated to The Island at the Marina in Puerto Los Cabos. The Artwalk and Cocktail Party took place in the hidden gem of Los Cabos. The artwalk at the marina at Puerto Los Cabos featured collections of bronze sculptures by the legendary artist Leonora Carrington. Local musicians were also delightfully playing soft music to welcome you to the evening that captured your heart as you entered the marina. Following the art walk was  a very 'coachella-esque' concert. Held in the center of the marina this outside concert was decked out in upscale decor.

Harper Blynn Performing. Photo Credit: John Parra/Getty Images

Cary Brothers, Madi Diaz, Holly Conlan, Harper Blynn, and Sara Bareillis were the bands that performed an ecletic upbeat set backed with the high intensity crowd. Harper Blynn had a aver 'passion pit' inspired performance while smooth and soft Sara Bareillis played original ballets like 'Love Song'. Cari Brothers, Madi Diaz, and Holly Conlan followed suit bu playing sof tlullabies as well. Towards the end all acts collaborated to showcase their immense musical talent by putting on a great close. Fan favorites such as 'Halo' by Beyonce, 'Kids' by MGMT, 'Hey Ya' by OutKast and many more got the crowd rowdy and ready to bring on the night.

Sara Bareillis Perfoms. Photo Credit: John Parra/ Getty Images

Bringing the festival to a close was the evening gala. Stars lined the red carpet in anticipation of the outcome of the winners from the BIFF. The following 'Tribute Awards' were given to the following recipients who were in attendance to accept their awards:

Edward Norton for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, Melissa Leo for 'Excellence in Acting', Matt Dillon for 'Outstanding Contribution to Cinema',  Diego Luna for 'Excellence in Acting', Virginia Madsen for 'Outstanding Contribution to Cinema, and Nicolas Echevarria for 'Excellence in Directing'.

John Lucas Jessica Lucas and Guests. Photo Credit: John Parra/Getty Images

The winners were as follows:

Best International Feature: 'No' is directed by Pablo Larrain and is a remarkable drama that tracks political campaign that surpassed and succeeded against the odds.

Best Mexican Feature:
'Los Mejores Temas', directed by Nicolas Pereda. Drifting from fiction to documentary, this movie tells the story of Emilio-a man who is now in his fifties and who shows up at his family home after fifteen years of absence.

Best International Documentary: 
'First Position', directed by Bess Kargman. 'First Position' is a movie about six young dancers from Italy, Africa, Israel, Colombia, and other countries battle intense pressure as they prepare for the most prestigious ballet competition in the world.

Best Mexican Documentary: This was a tie between two films. 'El Alcalde' which was directed by Carlos Rossini and 'La Revolucion de Los Alcatraces' which was directed by Luciana Kaplan.

Best International Short Film: 'Luminaris', directed by Juan Pablo Zaramella. In a world where light reigns and sets the pace of life, an average man has a plan that can change the natural state of things.

Best Mexican Short Film: 'Yuban Yasib' which was directed by Vazquez Colmenares, 'Yuban Yasib' is a documentary about the transformation of a Zapotecan community.

Leading filmmakers, industry insiders, celebrities, and various forms of media gathered to reign in the success of the BIFF. It was a great getaway and not to mention great movies. The BIFF is one for the books, and on the radar for being a major film festival with its competitors such as: Sundance and Toronto Film Festival. Special guests of the festival included: Patrick J. Adams, Danny Arroya, Gael Garcia, AJ Buckley, Kat Coiro, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Taylor, Octavia Spencer, Daniel Gillies, and many more.


Allison Janney, Sean Cross and Octavia Spencer attend the Closing Night Gala for the Baja International Film Festival at the Los Cabos Convention Center on November 17, 2012 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Photo Credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

The Baja International Film Festival is co-founded by Festival President, Eduardo Sanchez Navarro, longtime supporter of the arts in Los Cabos, BIFF festival directors Scott Cross and Sean Cross, co-founders of the Colorado Film Institute and Vail Film Festival, Juan Gallardo, Alfonso Pasquel, Eduardo Sanchez Navarro. Besides being a 'dream within a dream', this festival will showcase a few films that are sure to end up on our radar. The festival has announced the lineup of films selected to be screened at the inaugural festival-which is set to showcase 80 films from around the world including 5 international feature films in competition, 5 Mexican feature films in competition, 5 international documentaries in competition, 5 Mexican documentaries in competition, 30 international shorts, 13 Mexican shorts, 4 environmental films, as well as Special Presentation screenings of 6 international feature films, and 6 Mexican feature films.

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