¿Qué Le Dijiste a Dios? is one of the many films to be showcased this year at Hola Mexico Film Festival, which runs May 9-18 in Los Angeles.
This May marks the sixth edition of the Hola Mexico Film Festival, which showcases the best that Mexican cinema has to offer to the people of Los Angeles.
The festival also has stars from the films on hand, as well as food and drinks.
The Hola Mexico Film Festival has become one of the most important in the U.S. For the past 8 years, its founder Samuel Douek has strived to keep the engine running in order to bring this part of Mexican culture to the people of L.A.
This event is expected to gather approximately 25,000 people, and this year, the 6th installment will start on May 9th and take place in downtown L.A. This year’s theme is “Mexico Vs. It’s Bad Image” – in other words, using cinema to erase and purge that negative perspective that the world has towards Mexico. The films will be screened at the Regal Cinema at L.A. Live.
Eighteen hit Mexican films will be screened, and they are: Casese Quien Pueda (Dir. Marco Polo), Volando Bajo (Dir. Beto Gomez), No Se Si Cortarme Las Venas o Dejarmelas Largas (Dir. Manolo Caro), El Hombre Detras de la Mascara (Dir. Gabriela Obregon), ¿Qué Le Dijiste a Dios? (Dir. Teresa Suarez), Nosotros Los Nobles (Dir. Gary Alazraki), Instructions Not Included (Dir. Eugenio Derbez), Tercera LLamada (Dir. Francisco Franco), I hate Love (Dir. Humberto Hinojosa), Somos Mari Pepa (Dir. Samuel Kishi), Heli (Dir. Amat Escalante), Besos de Azucar (Dir. Carlos Cuaron), La Jaula de Oro (Dir. Diego Quemada), Panico 5 Bravo (Dir. Kuno Becker), documentaries Quien es Dayani? (Dir. Marc Silver), Quebranto (Dir. Roberto Fiesco), EL Cuarto Desnudo (Dir. Nuria Ibanez) and Ilusion Nacional (Dir. Olallo Rubio).
There’s also a special Mother’s Day event taking place on May 10th.
The festivities will also feature traditional beef from Sonora at the La Gran Parillada on May 17th at the Cultural Arts Plaza, and will conclude on May 18 with the world premiere of the film Volando Bajo and a concert by Mexican rock band Gusana Ciega.
In an exclusive with Living Out Loud, founder Samuel Douek gave us more details about this phenomenal festival.
Living Out Loud: What can we expect this time around at the festival?
Samuel Douek: We have many films of the highest caliber, including award-wining films such as La Jaula de Oro and Heli. We’ll also have the 3 most highly watched films in Mexico which are Nosotros los Nobles, No Se Aceptan Devoluciones and Casese Quien Pueda. The festival has much to say about what Mexican cinema has to offer.
LOL: How were the films at the festival chosen?
SD: We choose each film based on its production value, and the story and/or message it wishes to deliver. The films have to make us think. We include both fiction and documentaries in the festivals, and everything showcased has been very carefully pre-selected.
LOL: What would cause an otherwise commercial and well-produced film to be left out of the festival?
SD: There are many reasons. The film may be under conflicting interests or copyright restrictions, or the film may have recently been featured at some other festival(s). Another reason is just simple space. We’re a relatively small festival, and 18 is pretty much our limit. We also like screening the films one at a time, and not have multiple screenings going on at once. We don’t want people to miss out on what we have so meticulously prepared.
LOL: Is it difficult getting all the films’ directors and actors to attend the festival?
SD: It’s a mixture of things. It’s not so much having difficulty getting them here, it’s accommodating them all. Most always want to come, and while some may have previous engagements or other reasons to miss it, we try to accommodate everyone. It mostly depends on the films themselves.
LOL: Why do you think it’s difficult for a great Mexican film to reach American theatres? What would you say are the major obstacles?
SD: Well, we’re in the hands of Pantelion Films, and every now and then they distribute a Mexican film here. Heli will be out in selected theatres towards the end of June. Also, the film Quien Es Dayani Cristal will be out in selected theatres near the end of May. In regards to major releases, yes, it’s very hard. For example, the film based on [Cesar] Chaves’ life, which was a magnificent project by Diego Luna, didn’t do very well at the box office. That scares distributors for future Latin-driven projects. Like I said before, we’re in the hands of Pantelion and we hope that leads to more opportunities here in the U.S. We hope that what we do here with Hola Mexico will give producers and distributors an opportunity to see all that Mexican cinema has to offer.
LOL: So you think you’ll keep reaping from the success of Nosotros los Nobles and Instructions Not Included?
SD: Yeah, we’ll screen them even though they’re already out on video. They reflect an important part of Mexican cinema history. Also, it will be a great experience watching these films with its directors and co-stars.
LOL: How is it that this festival came to be?
SD: It was born in Australia in 2006 where I lived at the time. That year was the very first time we ever did the festival, and it was a great joy to be able to bring Mexican films there and help ex-pats reconnect with a part of their culture. The idea caught on. When I came to the U.S., I noticed no such festival was in place, and so we set about to make sure people here also had that same opportunity.
LOL: How has the public’s response been to the festival?
SD: People who come to the festival always leave happy and glad they had the opportunity to not only see the films, but also see the directors and cast of the films they watch. I think the hardest part, to be honest, has been getting more Mexicans to come. We do this for them, and always expect them to come, but our main goal is for the festivals to be successful. That’s why we still advertise in American press.
LOL: What celebrities can we expect to see at the festival?
SD: Quite a few. Martha and Miriam Higareda will be promoting Casese Quien Pueda, El Santo’s sone will be promoting the documentary about his father. Also, we’ll have Luis Gerardo Franco and Ludwika Paleta from No Se Si Cortarme Las Venas o Dejarmelas Largas, the cast of Nosotros Los Nobles, Eugenio Derbez, Kuno Becker, Carlos Cuaron, Humberto Hinojoas, Amara Escalante, Irene Azuela, and many more.
LOL: Overall, how would you describe the state of Mexican cinema?
SD: It’s doing great. As long as films keep getting made like last year, when 3 films broke box-office records. This year got off to a great start with Tu Me Dijiste Adios and Kakaro Gumaro. The film about Cantinflas will be out this August, which I expect to do very well. The fact is, we have many interesting projects coming down the pipe, lots of movie buffs in the audience, and very capable filmmakers to indulge them.
LOL: Most of the directors and cast have usually been very accessible by the press and the public in the past. Is there a previous arrangement between them and the festival to make this happen?
SD: Honestly, no. Each actor/director is different and has their own reasons for talking to or not talking to press or the public. We gladly comp their airfare and accommodations while they’re in town, but it’s really up to them how they engage with people at the festival.
This year’s festival promises to be an enormous success and boasts a truly impressive repertoire of Mexican cinema and the men and women responsible, both on screen and behind the scenes. This is a very admirable endeavor because of the recognition it gives to Mexican films, but also because it allows the people of L.A. to be exposed to cinema they would otherwise never hear about. It also gives people a new perspective about Mexico through film.
The festival is open to the general public. For tickets and more information, visit www.holamexicofest.com.