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Laura Blum

Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for She also publishes on Thalo



Hola Mexico Film Festival Tours Miami and Five Other Cities

Just as Cinco de Mayo revelers in Miami, Florida, are starting to sober up, another Mexican fiesta is about to intoxicate them. Hola México Film Festival pours into the "capital of Latin America" May 13 to 16, 2010, with the world's largest showcase of purely Mexican cinema. Back for its second spin through the U.S., the Festival opened this year in April in Los Angeles (Apr. 29 - May 4) and will have made had another appearance in San Francisco (May 6 - 11) before the Miami event.

HMFF is a traveling pavilion curated by its founding director, Samuel Douek, and will tour to Chicago (May 20 - 25), Washington, D.C. (May 27 - June 1) and New York (June 2 - 6) before wrapping up.

Raised in Mexico City, Douek moved at age 23 to Sydney, Australia, where he'd soon rack up degrees in marketing and event management. Once down under, Douek began to visit film festivals in and around Sydney, and found Mexican titles to be conspicuous in their absence. That spurred the ex-pat to launch a series exclusively devoted to the cinema of his native country, and hola! -- the Hola México Film Festival was born.

The 2010 program presents 15 feature-length films, including two documentaries, alongside parties and live musical performances.  Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater hosts the three-day event.

Each city on the Festival circuit kicks off with a different film. Miami's opening night selection, It Happens in One Day/Sucedió en un día), is a medley of eight shorts shot and edited by as many Mexican filmmakers during 24 hours. Adriana Barraza, whose supporting role in Babel earned her an Oscar nomination, and Joaquín Cosío, who played a henchman in Bond vehicle Quantum of Solace, are among the celebrated names who lent their acting talents to this clock-challenged project.

The driving concept behind HMFF is to represent authentic Mexican culture in its complexity, offering a corrective to the stereotypical images that warp most media coverage in this country. Films were selected to give a nuanced range of perspectives and themes on our neighbor to the South.

Not surprisingly, immigration rears its head in a couple of the films. Those Who Remain/Los que se quedan takes the measure of nine Mexican families and villages left behind by loved ones who crossed the Rio Grande to live the American Dream. The film, which picked up a number of prizes at previous festivals, was directed by Carlos Hagerman and Juan Carlos Rulfo.

Rigoberto Pérezcano's Northless/Norteado narrates the fits and starts of a Oaxacan man who sets out for a better life in the U.S., but who finds work and friendships while held back in Tijuana.

Two of this year's titles plumb father-son relationships. To the Sea/Alamar, from Pedro González-Rubio, partly dips into documentary territory in its tale of generational bonding and fishing during one summer before the son joins his mother in Europe. Among other trophies, the nano-budget film reeled in New Director's Award at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival.

Diego Muñoz's Bitten Bullet/Bala mordida takes a shot at the corruption plaguing Mexico and its police force. The cast includes Damián Alcázar, whom U.S. audiences may recognize from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

As a counterweight to some of the more ponderous takes on Mexico, there's Kitsch is Cool/Naco Es Chido. The comedy by Sergio Arau (A Day Without a Mexican) is about an 80s rock band whose lost recordings fetch up in a junk heap two decades after their members mysteriously vanished.

Raiding the Mexican film cache, HMFF pays tribute to Antonio Serrano's 1999 blockbuster dramedy, Sex, Shame and Tears/Sexo, pudor y lágrimas. Demián Bechir, Susana Zabaleta, Jorge Salinas and Cecilia Suárez played in this classic "battle of the sexes and the exes."

Though last year's inaugural edition also screened a retrospective work, the current mood is understandably more nostalgic. Mexico is now marking its bicentennial of independence and centennial of its revolution.

Looking ahead, Douek hopes to bring the Festival to other countries besides the US and Sydney, where the festival has been running since 2006.

For the full lineup of HMFF USA films and special events, visit:

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