Binational Independent Film Festival

2001 Binational Independent Film Festival Press Release

First Chamizal Independent Film Festival, A Successful Event.

The First Chamizal Independent Film Festival was held Wednesday, August 1 – Sunday, August 5, 2001 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. Designed to celebrate the rich and diverse culture of the United States and Mexico border, it was attended by more than 1,300 people and proved to be a tremendous success from the start.

A star-filled opening gala and inauguration ceremony took place at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, where members of the community, media personalities, actors, directors and producers joined the festivities. Mexican screen legends Hector Bonilla and Maria Rojo were presented with Los Paisanos de El Chamizal Awards in recognition of their significant contributions to the art of the motion picture.

Throughout the week, six independent films, three from the US and three from Mexico were screened on both sides of the border. In addition, seminars with the directors, actors, and producers of the films were conducted in both Juarez and in El Paso. The organizing committee awarded Bruno Bichir, producer of Cronica de un Desayuno with the Chamizal Award for best Mexican picture. Rum and Coke directed by Maria Escobedo and produced by Charles Gherardi received El Premio Chamizal for best American film.

The festival concluded on August, 5, 2001 in Juarez with a special screening of the film Like Water for Chocolate and a closing gala, which honored Alfonso Arau, the film’s director, with an International Border Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. Next year’s festival will be held July 27 – August 2, 2002 at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso,Texas, the University of Texas at El Paso, The Consejo Municipal de Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the El Paso Museum of Art, the Museo del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Juarez, Mexico.

Initial funding from the US/Mexico Fund for Culture in Mexico and the Freedom Forum in the US provided filmmakers from both countries the opportunity to participate in seminars and screenings of important independent films.

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