film festival tourism


The Guadalajara International Film Festival

Fest Logo

Why Go: To see the best recent movies from Latin America.

Dates: A week in late March


Festival Description: Originally launched in 1985 by a group of students at the university of Guadalajara, this festival has morphed in to the leading such event in Latin America, showcasing the best recent cinema the region has to offer. Now under the directorship of Ivan Trujillo, the fest today is set up mainly with an eye to accommodating visiting Mexican journalists and industry figures with young locals filling out the audiences. Though the festival staff tries hard to be helpful, foreign visitors are likely to find themselves frustrated,  for many films lack English subtitles and it is virtually impossible to ascertain which these are.

Ivan Trujillo

Programming: The festival is focused on showcasing the best recent cinema the region has to offer, but includes a smattering of European titles as well. Screenings begin at about 11am  and go on into the night.

Tickets: Cheap ($4) and easy to get on site.

Catalogue: The fancy one is only available to professionals, and the free one is entirely in Spanish. There is no program information on the fest website.

Venues: Most films are shown at the Cinemark multiplex, located four stories under ground in the middle of a parking garage. Once you find your way there, the theaters are in reasonably good shape and are quite comfortable. The refurbished movie palace Teatro Diana, a taxi ride away in the center of town, hosts glitzy premieres of new Latin American titles.

Teatro Diana

Getting Around. The gleaming new and enormous Expo complex, where members of the press and industry are accommodated, is about a mile and a half from the Cinemark theater, the fest’s main venue. The walk takes you along a busy street, so is quite safe during the day. Taxis are also plentiful and cheap, and the 626 bus will take you from one place to the other for six pesos.

Expo Guadalajara

Lodging: In 2011 I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Expo, which was about one-third of a mile from the main festival venue and a little further from the Expo complex, where press and industry attendees gathered. AV. MARIANO OTERO 2397 FRACC. RESIDENCIAL VICTORIA GUADALAJARA, 44550 Mexico Hotel Front Desk: 52-33-50008080

Holiday Inn Express Expo

Excursions: The on-off bus tour stops in front of the Holiday Inn Express and takes you to the more scenic historic parts of the city (away from the charmless area around the festival itself).

photo by Kim Wexman

The Festival Year by Year


2011 Festival Poster

Best Film I Saw: Amador. Despite an overlong second half, featuring too many close-ups of Magaly Solier’s woebegone expression, Fernando León de Aranoa’s sensitive study of a young Indian woman living in Spain whose life is radically altered by her encounter with a dying man captivates viewers with its dry humor and clever use of symbols. Both  director and actress captured major awards at the fest.


Unexpected Pleasures:

  • Gisele Fróes’ clever impersonations of Carmen Miranda, Betty Page and Marilyn Monroe in the Brazillian production Riscado.


  • The fest’s stylish, ingenious promo reel.

Shock and Awe

  • English subtitles: I spent many hours attempting to ascertain which films had these and numerous other hours (and money) being misdirected to films that were supposed to have them and didn’t.
  • Sloppy projection.
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