by Chris Sands
Event Schedule Announced by Baja International Film Festival
Anticipation continues to build for the First Annual Baja International Film Festival, which will be held in Los Cabos from November 14th – 17th. The festival’s organizers, who include Vail Film Festival and Colorado Film Institute co-founders Sean and Scott Cross, hope the inaugural four-day fête will strengthen ties between the U.S. and Mexican film industries, and that the cinematic celebration will become an annual event on the level of the Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice, and Sundance Film Festivals.
In the last several weeks, organizers have released information on the festival’s advisory board, its hotel and travel partners, the list of films to be screened at the festival, competition categories, cash and prize information, the event schedule, and, most recently, the subjects to be discussed at the filmmaker panel discussions. An announcement has not yet been made of the three finalists in the screenplay competition.
The festival will begin on Wednesday, November 14th, with an activities slate that includes a film screening and an opening night cocktail party. The kick-off events will take place at the new Los Cabos Convention Center, an expansive 75,000 square foot facility built for June’s G-20 summit of world leaders. The convention center is scheduled to host the majority of the festival’s events and screenings, although selected films will also be shown at Puerto Los Cabos, Plaza Mijares in San Jose del Cabo, and the Cultural Pavilion in Cabo San Lucas.
In addition to the opening night excitement, other festival highlights are expected to include Thursday’s Filmmaker Reception at Puerto Los Cabos’ Wirikuta Cactus Garden, the largest cactus garden in the world, and Friday’s Art Walk and L.A. Hotel Cafe Concert featuring singer-songwriter Sara Barreilles, the Grammy award-winning Cary Brothers, popular indie band Harper Blynn, as well as singers Madi Diaz and Holly Conlan.
Closing night begins early, with a 5 p.m. red carpet event at the Los Cabos Convention Center featuring some of the festival’s celebrity attendees, followed by the festival’s final film, and a post-screening Q & A session. Red carpet festivities will then continue with a walk up to the VIP cocktail reception and subsequent awards ceremony dinner. The guest list at the sit-down dinner will include some of the U.S. and Mexican film industrys’ most acclaimed filmmakers, with awards handed out in several categories, including Feature Films, Short Films, and Documentaries. After dinner and the awards presentations, the festival will conclude by honoring selected actors and directors with achievement awards.
An announcement has also been made about the subjects and schedule for the festival’s panel discussions, which will feature distinguished groups of actors and directors discussing topics relevant to the industry. The panel discussions will be part of Friday’s Film Forum Mexico-USA, and will primarily touch on challenges associated with investment and funding. The forum is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Los Cabos Convention Center, with specific issues to include tax incentives, investment mechanisms for producing in the U.S. and Mexico, production costs, locations and facilities in Mexico, distribution in the U.S., and opportunities for Mexican talent in the U.S.
Still pending is information on the winner of the screenplay contest, which is being co-sponsored by Virgin Produced, the film and television division of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.The grand prize winner of the screenplay contest will receive a complimentary stay at a local luxury resort for the duration of the festival, as well as two all-access VIP passes for screenings and events. The winning screenplay will also be given production consideration by Virgin. The submission deadline was October 26th, and information on the top three finalists will be announced via press release during the run-up to the festival.
All photos courtesy of the Baja International Film Festival.
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