The Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) is one event that makes San Miguel de Allende a center of international attention each year, bringing together directors, producers, actors, scriptwriters, filmmakers, and the general public. This year, however, the GIFF has taken a rollercoaster ride, faced with numerous logistical and date changes caused by the pandemic. Sarah Hoch, executive director of GIFF, says that San Miguel will still have its film festival season—but at a later date. In the meantime, the festival will take place in other cities from September 18-27.
The usual time frame for the GIFF has been the last weekend of July, and the venues have included different locations in Guanajuato city and San Miguel. This year the pandemic had already led GIFF to adapt its plans to include drive-in theaters and open spaces for “picnic-cinema.” However, San Miguel authorities have canceled all massive events, including the yearly “El Grito” cry for independence as well as the patron saint festivities. This means that San Miguel must also wait for its traditional “more movies please” GIFF celebration.
In the city of Guanajuato, a new venue called “aqua-cinema” has been added this year. A cinema screen will be installed at the La Olla dam, where up to 120 people spread among 30 boats can enjoy movies and short films. There will also be a drive-in theater in Silao—just like in the 1950s—allowing up to four people from the same household per car. Other outdoor GIFF events are planned in Parque Guanajuato Bicentenario and Irapuato.
Hoch explained that since GIFF has spread to Irapuato and Silao, it has become a hybrid event taking place both live and online. The original plan was to bring this year’s festival to a close in San Miguel during the first weekend of October; however, neither the local authorities nor the Department of Health authorized the necessary permits. Therefore, the festival will close elsewhere, and energies will be focused on a GIFF presence in San Miguel between November and December, depending on the state’s COVID traffic light status.
In the virtual world, GIFF is introducing a “virtual campus” on September 21-23, featuring film industry master classes, conferences, panels, virtual reality projects, and pitching sessions, along with a co-production market and incubators for the development of projects. El Salón de la Crítica (critic’s hall) will be a venue where film critics and industry personalities will participate.
The metaverse—a virtual shared universe inspired by the architecture and culture of Guanajuato—can be found at www.virtual.giff.mx. Here the official selection of this year’s Virtual Reality 360 movies will be found. The site will allow visitors to create an avatar and “be whoever they want to be.” This “new normal” aims to create human connections through an innovative experience bringing people from the whole world together in the same place and share valuable relationships as if they were in the real world.
The virtual platform will host an international tribute to David Lynch, director, actor, producer, and screenwriter. His art spans many fields, including painting, photography, and electronic music. This will be the first time that the acclaimed honorary Oscar and Palme d’Or winner has participated in an immersive virtual experience like this.