GIFF repositions San Miguel as a city of culture and art

GIFF repositions San Miguel as a city of culture and art

With the arrival of the Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF) in San Miguel de Allende, residents will have the opportunity to participate as an extra in one of the six shorts that university students will shoot in the city.

In San Miguel, the Festival will take place on September 21, 22, and 23. All sanitary protocols will be followed, including reduced capacity in the Jardín, Los Senderos, Angela Peralta Theater, Santa Ana, and Cinemex. The main venue will be Jardin Principal, where actress María Rojo and playwright Maria Novaro will be honored. Maria Rojo will give the keynote address.


GIFF will start out in León


The first night of the 24th edition of GIFF, on Sept 17, will offer a virtual world experience. Moviegoers will be able to create an account and an avatar, and interact and schedule their own list of films during the 10 days of the festival. “The beginning on Sept 17 was virtual. Here our team focused on guiding people in the virtual world,” said GIFF Executive Director Sara Hoch.

Traditionally, the anchor month for the Festival is July, and it begins in San Miguel. However, this year León will host the opening, as the city had offered all the facilities, including infrastructure. In addition, the honoree and co-founder of the festival, Ernesto Herrera, was born in León. “When we discussed with the municipality [of Leon] dedicating the festival to the co-founder, who died in February, they indicated that the tribute in that city was very important to them. They gave us the cultural forum; it has three theaters, an esplanade, and museums. Across the way is Cinemex, which serves as the festival campus. There is support, the budget, and the infrastructure.” León made the festival commit to having the event there for the next four years.


“We are opening there [this year] because of the tribute, but the order may change in the years to come. While the contingency continues, the festival will be in more cities for fewer days and with fewer people. We want to eventually bring the timing back to July,” Hoch said in an interview. She clarified that the date was chosen last year because the theory was that by September more of the population would be vaccinated. She commented that there is progress, but not enough. She boasted that the festival created the protocols for the festival last year, along with the state government.


Because of the health contingency, Hoch said that measures are being taken to extremes to protect members of the film industry and members of the festival. COVID tests will be done for festival participants upon arrival, during, and after GIFF. “We want to be able to say, at least in the core of the festival, that there were no infections. We are going to live with COVID, and it is unclear whether it will change in the next year. What this means is that the festival is open to all, but whoever attends must wear a mask, and respect the health protocols.”


In San Miguel

In San Miguel, the festival will begin at 12pm on Sept 21. Whereas it previously started in the City of Guanajuato, it will now start with a university rally in SMA. Previously selected film students from six universities countrywide will come to film short films and produce them in 48 hours. They will then screen them in the Jardin on Sept 23.


At 7pm on the the 21, the red carpet will be rolled out in the Jardin Principal for guests, sponsors, and members of the festival. The Mexican film Noche de Fuego will be screened. This is Director Tatiana Huezo’s first work of fiction. It won an Honorable Mention in the Un Certain Regard category at the last Cannes Film Festival. It’s a realistic portrait of violence in Mexico through the story of a girl who has to disguise herself as a boy to live safely. In addtion, a tribute will be presented to the co-founder of the festival, Ernesto Herrera.


The Jardin will be fenced off and will have chairs for 500 people. Attendees must follow health protocols and wear a mask.


On Sept 22, the festival will continue with screenings at the Santa Ana Theater, Senderos, Angela Peralta Theater, and Cinemex. There will be a Women in Cinema tribute in the afternoon.


On the 23rd, Maria Rojo will give the keynote address at noon in the Jardin Principal. Beatriz Novaro. an award-winning Mexican writer, screenwriter, playwright and poet, will also be honored. Her works stand out because she writes memorable stories that navigate between acts of love and rebellion. She is one of the most important screenwriting personalities in Mexico. Both honorees will share their experiences in talks.


For the complete schedule, venues, and more, go to


The festival needs nurturing


GIFF was born in San Miguel, but it is also where there is the most dissent. For those who still think that the Festival does not pay homage to the city, Sara Hoch says, “First give them the opportunity to enjoy the experience in all venues. Art is not for everyone. San Miguel is a city whose banner is art and culture. It was the sales card. There are fewer artists, fewer art schools, fewer festivals, and festivals are hard to do.”


Hoch continued, “There is a lot of support in San Miguel. The event is free. We live together and enjoy the cinema. It is difficult to generate promotion without festivals or cultural events, it is the proof that we want this for tourists, such that when they arrive there is something nurtured and supported by the community, more solid, more to offer, with more promotion. I do 18 interviews a day, and I promote what we have. We must try to nurture this if we want SMA to continue to be a cultural and artistic center.”


Hoch commented that the GIFF budget is one billion pesos. Because of the contingency this year, it will operate with one million pesos provided by each city , plus five million pesos from Guanajuato State, and 1.1 million pesos from the Federal Government. She noted that during normal times the Guadalajara Film Festival operates with a budget of 38 million pesos, and Morelia’s film festival on 32 million pesos, although currently its base is about 28 million pesos.