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Aruba International Film Festival


Aruba International Film Festival Year 5 Kicks Off October 7-11 2015.

The Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF) quickly became the international film community’s “must-attend” summer event after its opening in July 2010. After 4 intensely exciting years, the festival took a break in 2014 for a complete makeover and now is back with full force to celebrate year 5 from October 7th-11th, 2015. 

The festival offers a pleasurable and inviting atmosphere for filmmakers, press and film lovers. It serves to not only develop an understanding and appreciation of the art of cinema and filmmaking, but also to inspire, educate and promote emerging local and regional filmmaking talent. This in turn has helped position Aruba as a center of art, culture and creativity, and as a viable destination for international film and commercial productions.

The AIFF was founded in 2010 by film producers Jonathan Vieira and Giuseppe Cioccarelli, with artistic direction by 30-year industry veteran Claudio Masenza. Previous editions of the festival have showcased a diverse array of critically acclaimed fiction films and documentaries from every corner of the globe, and have attracted such notable industry names as:

Hollywood leading man Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman)
Multi Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, The Aviator)
Mexican writer/director Guillermo Arriaga (The Burning Plain, Babel)...




Sergio Sanchez Suarez, interview on Tequila


While in Aruba during the 2nd annual Aruba Film Festival, I spoke with Mexican director Sergio Sanchez Suarez about his romantic nostalgic Mexican film TEQUILA (2011) which held its international world premier the previous night in Aruba's Paseo Herencia Theater. Here is what he had to say about TEQUILA.


ME: Hi Sergio. How are you? Can you start by telling us a bit about your film TEQUILA?

SERGIO: Well, it’s a love story about a guy who gets deeply in love with a woman he can't have and everything falls to pieces.

ME: What inspired you to write this story?

SERGIO: Well, the Italian novels of the 19th century. The dramatic structure, the operas and also the Mexican movies from the 40’s, an eclectic mix, you know. Almost all of the movies of that time in Mexico were very eclectic and fashionable. We wanted to make something like that. Because you don’t see much of those kind of films anymore.

ME: Was this a Mexican co-production? Or was America involved?

SERGIO: Well, it’s Mexican but one of our executive producer is John Morrissey who made AMERICAN HISTORY X and we did all the sound at Universal Studios in LA and the musician is Italian and the actress is Spanish so its eclectic in every sense of the word.

ME: So it’s not really an indie film then or is it?

SERGIO: Well, it’s a high budget home movie. [laughs]. We went to live in some kind of kibbutz in Guadalajara in a monastery. I brought my brother who’s a production designer and my girlfriend who is the producer and my buddies from the college who were producer, cinematographer and screenwriter and we were all living there looking for the locations and where to film and things. So, on one side it’s a very familiar project and the other there were all these people that started to help us on certain things later.

ME: The film at times reminded me of the romance of a Merchant-Ivory film at times and also reminded me of the film LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (1992) and also hints at tele-novelas and nostalgic cinema.

SERGIO: Yeah, well, tele-novelas come from the movies of the 40s. They were the beginners of that kind of structure and we took it from there and we made it a little different. The morality of the story is different because the characters of the story are not purely good or purely evil. They are just people making right or wrong choices.

ME: One question I wanted to ask was that it’s an old story, a doomed love Romeo and Juliet style, but there are nuances to it of course which pertain to 1940s Mexican culture. One of the cultural scenes you capture in the film really stood out for me- the crucifixion reenactments. Can you explain something about that? Does that still take place in Mexico?

SERGIO: Well, it’s a very big thing in Mexico. I believe in all Latin American cultures this still takes place. The day of Holy Week, the Friday, they do a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ and these guys spend all the year training and they nail a person to the cross and yeah, they still do it.

ME: Wow! Well, it’s heavy stuff. A heavy film! How has the reaction been so far?

SERGIO: Well, so far I’ve shown the film in three festivals. One in Oaxaca, which was great because we saw it in a very old beautiful theater. There were like 600 people there and for half of them, it was the first time they saw a film there in that theater. They had never seen it before and there reactions were amazing. Then we saw it in Guadalajara and we had the same reactions in the different places. I’m excited and now I’m waiting to watch it in the theaters when it’s released.

ME: What do you hope people will take away from this film?

SERGIO: Well, I’ve heard all kinds of stuff. Yesterday I was talking to a girl from Venezuela. She saw her own life in the film and she couldn’t bear to see the end so she ran out crying. And the guy who did the color correction had a similar episode with his brother and his mother from seeing the film. So, yeah, I’ve seen different stories from just the people seeing the film. One guy who couldn’t deal with his brother’s death and then he relived the experience while watching the film.

ME: The film was beautifully shot and spectacular DOP work. What was the movie filmed on?

SERGIO: It was digital.

ME: How does it feel to have your world premier in Aruba?

SERGIO: Oh, it’s great. I love it here and I love the beach.

ME: Well, thank you Sergio! Huge congrats on this magnificent milestone for Mexican cinema. See you tonight at the movies.

Interview by Vanessa McMahon on June 14, 2011


read also an interview with lovely actress Daniela Schmidt here:


photo by Vanessa McMahon 

director Sergio Sanchez Suarez at AIFF 



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Vieira Jonathan

The official Aruba International Film festival's blog


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