Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna launch 4th Ambulante documentary festival in Mexico

Ambulante Launch

Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, two of Mexico’s most bankable movie stars, launched the fourth annual Ambulante documentary film festival Friday morning in a packed cinema screening room on Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma.

Garcia Bernal, star of films such as The Motorcycle Diaries and the current Mexico hit movie Rudo y Cursi (in which he stars with Luna), urged people to have some low-cost fun in the light of the global economic crisis, which is being felt in Mexico.

“We’re at a critical moment, not wanting to spend money, and
Ambulante is a free or cheap option to see films in the cinema,” said
Garcia Bernal.

Speaking at the launch, Luna said that he and Garcia Bernal founded Ambulante in 2006 (read our report about the launch of the festival here) out of a sense of “responsibility” to do something with all the attention they were receiving because of their acting work.

Since the festival’s humble beginnings when it featured just 19
documentaries, the number of films now has doubled. And it has expanded
its reach by traveling to more Mexican cities as well as a number of
international locations including the United States, the United
Kingdom, Ireland and Cuba.

“The one word that you can’t associate with Ambulante is ‘elitist’,
” Luna told the crowd Friday, responding to accusations from a member
of the press that the festival was created as a way for the actors to
make more money.

The contrary would seem to be true — many of the films in the
festival will be free, and for those screenings that have entrance
fees, students will get discounts.

Ambulante helps distribute films by upcoming documentary filmmakers,
and also gives grants to help producers and directors get films made.

The actors and the director of the festival, Elena Fortes, said they
wanted to challenge the assumption that documentaries are boring, and
they hope to appeal to young viewers as much as possible.

Ambulante (a Spanish word referring to a street vendor or a temporary market stall) is supported by Canana Films (the production company owned by Garcia Bernal and Luna), the Mexican cinema chain Cinepolis and the Morelia International Film Festival.
It will run from Feb. 6 until April 9 in more than 70 venues including
public plazas, cultural centers and museums as well as Cinepolis
screens in 16 Mexican cities.

Of the 44 documentaries featured in the festival, nine are Mexican.
The festival will also feature a special section on Swedish

You can find information about screenings, a full list of the documentaries in the festival and related events here on the official website.

— This post was written for La Plaza.

Image: Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna at the launch of the
Ambulante documentary film festival Friday. Deborah Bonello / Los
Angeles Times. For more photos of the launch, go to our Flickr page.