1999 to 2002

[Festival Logo]

[Committee with Pedro Armendariz]

The Festival began with encouragement from a noted Mexican actor. The initial Festival Committee (Jim Lloyd, Robin Lawrason, Isabel Fuente, Marcela Palafox and Xill Fessenden) met at the Quinta Real Hotel in Guadalajara in March 1999 with Mexican film actor Pedro Armendariz, who became our "Festival Godfather."

[Anibal Riebeling Award Design Winner]

One of the first steps was to hold a competition to design the Festival's prize for best films in each category. Jim Lloyd here presents competition winner to silversmith Anibal Riebeling for his winning design of three silver Charales fish jumping from a black onyx base. The film thereafter became know as our "Los Charales Award."

[Committee at Columbia Pictures]

For the first several festivals, we wanted new feature films. Thus, Robin, Marcela, Isabel and Jim travelled to Mexico City to meet with film distribution companies. Here we are with Columbia Pictures representatives in Mexico City to acquire feature films for Festival 1999. They provided us with the newly released "Crazy in Alabama" for the Opening Film for our first Festival.

[Opening of Festival 1999]

After a furious effort to complete the three salas at the new cine complex in Ajijic, two were ready for the first Festival. We stepped over construction rubble for that Opening Night at Cinemas Bugambilias, but here Jim with Mexican film actor Claudia Islas, Chapala Mayor and Secretary of Tourism Pablo Gerber to open both Festival 1999 and the newly completed salas.

[Tribute Award Winner Rocky Karns]

For the first Tribute Award, we honored Tod "Rocky" Karns, a longtime Ajijic resident who starred in many films over the years. His most famous role was that of Jimmy Stewart's younger brother Harry Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. Several months after his Tribute Dinner, Rocky died. His wife Kate decided that no Memorial Service was necessary after the wonderful tribute paid to him during the Festival.


[Festival 2000 Poster]

Festival 2000 instituted a competition for the best poster design. Jorge Silvestre won for his great design incorporating lake and film motifs.

[Claudia Islas and Board members]

Festival 2000 entertained Mexican film and television actor Claudia Islas. Here Claudia delighted both Festival Board members, friends and restaurant staff at a gala dinner at Los Telares Restaurant.

[Judith Diem]

Judith Diem, the 90 year old subject of the documentary Ghost Bird: The Life and Art of Judith Deim was delighted to accept the President's Award for Documentary. The film chronicles her life as an artist and woman from Monterrey California, where she received encouragement from friend John Steinbeck, to here current home in Patzcuaro, in the State of Morelia Mexico.

[Pedro Armendariz]

For our second Festival, we presented a Tribute Award to Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz, our Festival Godfather, who had recently received the "Ariel," Mexico's top acting honor for Best Supporting Actor for his role in La Ley de Herodes also featured at the Festival and which won the President's Award for feature film.

[Los Charales Award]

The Los Charales Award, designed by Anibal Riebeling, was awarded to all the Jury selected Best Films in the individual categories of animation, documentary, feature, short subject and screenplay.


[Festival 2001 Poster]

Festival 2001 celebrated Lake Chapala and held two competitions, one for best Festival poster and another for best short film celebrating the Lake suffering years of neglect and drought. The winning poster design was submitted by Adele Cordero of Imagen Design. And the best short film was an evocative tribute to Lake Chapala filmed by local resident Cindy Lou Paul.

[Jaime Humberto Hermosillo]

Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, one of Mexico's most celebrated and honored directors, was selected to receive the second 2001 Tribute Award. Hermosillo is one of the most successful Mexican directors of the last twenty years. Hermosillo's films have dissected the hypocrisy of Mexican middle class and "torn the curtain" behind which many perversities are hidden. Hermosillo found a great success with Doña Herlinda y su hijo (1985), a comedy about a mother of a gay doctor who manipulates her son, his male lover and his fiancée to fulfill her desire of becoming a grandmother. Gay themes in Hermosillo's films can be found in Matinée (1977), El cumpleaños del perro (1974) and Las Apariencias engañan (1978). Hermosillo has also been an explorer of film language. La Tarea (1990) is one of the most complex exercises in film style in recent years (the film was shoot in one long shot, from the POV of a camcorder). Hermosillo's films present a fresh look on Mexican society. He prefers the comedy, something difficult to find in Mexican cinema nowadays. His films reflect, in an original way, the Mexico behind the charro, the bandito, the margarita and the burrito. ( Mini Biography by Maximiliano Maza)


[Festival 2002 Board]

Members of the Board worked hard again for Festival 2002. Here at a meeting at the Ajijic Grill were: (standing) Billi Frost, Mickey Karkus, Ceci Von Schreiber and Isabel Fuente; (seated) Sandy Vandermeer, Jim Lloyd and Robin Lawrason.

[Maria Felix]

The Festival 2002 Tribute Award went posthumously to Maria Felix, legend of the Golden Age of Film in Mexico, who had died earlier that year. We showed four of her best films: Beyond All Limits - Flor de Mayo with Jack Palance (the only English speaking film she made); La Diosa Arrodillada – The Kneeling Goddess; Maclovia and La Mujer de Todos – The Woman of All made between 1947 and 1959. Felix remains today one of the most celebrated and loved Mexican actresses.

[Christian de La Fuente with Jim & Robin]

For the first time we presented awards for actors. The Best Actor Award went to Christian de la Fuente in Minimal Knowledge. In 2008 we were delighted to see Christian again in the ABC TV series Dancing with the Stars . Despite a shoulder injury, he came in third losing out to skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

For more glitz on our last Festival, click here for Photos from Festival 2002 featuring the Awards Ceremony.

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