Fernanda Valadez’s “Identifying Features” Wins Gotham Awards’ Inaugural Best International Feature Award

Fernanda Valadez is in a New York state of mind…

The Gotham Film and Media Institute’s 30th annual Gotham Awards have been revealed virtually, with the Mexican filmmaker taking home a prize.

Fernanda Valadez

Valadez’s critically acclaimed Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares) picked up the inaugural award for Best International Feature.

The drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic and the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay.

Co-written by Valadez and Astrid Rondero, the film centers on the many immigrants who often go missing or die on their journeys. Most of the main characters are mothers trying to find their children.

IFP Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp welcomed the virtual audience and the night featured a handful of in-person presenters including Renee Elise Goldsberry, Cristin Milioti, Hunter Schafer, Padma Lakshmi, Michael Shannon and Noma Dumezweni, as well as remote presenters such as Zachary Quinto, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Mackie, Rebecca Hall and Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.

Here’s the full list of winners below.

BEST FEATURE: Nomadland
BEST DOCUMENTARY – TIE A Thousand Cuts & Time
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE: Identifying Features
BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR AWARD: Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night
BEST SCREENPLAY – TIE: The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank & Fourteen, Dan Sallitt
BEST ACTOR: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
BEST ACTRESS: Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami…
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – LONG FORMAT (40-PLUS MINUTES PER EPISODE): Watchmen
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – SHORT FORMAT (LESS THAN 40 MINUTES PER EPISODE): I May Destroy You
ACTRESS TRIBUTE: Viola Davis
ACTOR TRIBUTE: Chadwick Boseman
ENSEMBLE TRIBUTE: The cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Alex Sharp, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, and Ben Shenkman.
DIRECTOR’S TRIBUTE: Steve McQueen
INDUSTRY TRIBUTE: Ryan Murphy
MADE IN N.Y. AWARD: Jeffrey Wright
GOTHAM AUDIENCE AWARD: Nomadland

First U.S. Trailer Released for Fernanda Valadez’s Spanish-Language Drama “Identifying Features”

Here’s your first look at Fernanda Valadez’s latest film…

Kino Lorber has released the U.S. trailer for the Mexican filmmaker’s latest project, the Spanish-language drama Identifying Features.

Fernanda Valadez

The film was well-received the Sundance Film festival.

It centers on a mother (Mercedes Hernandez) who travels across Mexico in search of her son who authorities say died while trying to cross the boarder into the U.S.

Valadez’s film picked up two prizes at Sundance and will open in theaters and virtual cinemas in January 2021 after its New York premiere as an official selection at New Directors/New Films festival.

The film was recently nominated for a Gotham Award for Best International Feature, and previously played festivals including San Sebastian, Zurich, Morelia, and Thessaloniki.

At Sundance, the film won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award and the same category’s Best Screenplay prize. Avanti Pictures and Corpulenta Producciones produce.

Luna to Star in the Dystopian Love Story “The Bad Batch”

Diego Luna is part of a bad, bad batch

The 35-year-old Mexican actor has joined the ensemble cast of the dystopian love story The Bad Batch.

Diego Luna

Luna has been cast opposite Suki Waterhouse, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey in the Ana Lily Amirpour-directed film from Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and VICE.

Jimmy, Waterhouse will play the charter of Arlen, Reeves will play The Dream, and Carrey The Hermit.

Production is set to start in L.A. on the Texas wasteland cannibal tale next month. Luna will play

Winner of the Gotham Award for Breakthrough Director for her debut, the Iranian vampire feature A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Amirpour is also writing The Bad Batch.

Harmony Santana Receives Gotham Award Nomination…

She’s received critical acclaim for her feature-film acting debut in “Gun Hill Road”… And, now Harmony Santana could be reaping the rewards too.

The 20-something transgender actress has received a Gotham Award “Breakthrough Actor” nomination for her spectacular performance in the coming out drama.

The film, which co-stars Esai Morales and Judy Reyes, centers around Vanessa (born as Michael), a shy male teenager trying to live openly as a girl while dealing with a disapproving ex-con father and supportive mother.

The half-Puerto Rican, half-Dominican actresses’ only previous acting experience was playing a Boy George look-alike in a high school production of the musical “The Wedding Singer.” But that didn’t stop the film’s director, Rashaad Ernesto Green, from selecting Santana for the hard-to-cast role.

“I looked at attractive gay males who might have had experience with drag to see if they might be able to portray the character,” recalled Green in a recent interview with The New York Times, who was seeking an actor who looked 16, could play a transgender character without what he called ‘significant female development’ and could convincingly convey a Hispanic background. “But they didn’t have the essence I was looking for. There’s a difference between someone who’s pretending to be female and someone who actually believes they are.”

But Green’s luck changed when he discovered Santana at the Queens gay pride parade.

“She said she was at the beginning of her transition, which was like, ‘Bingo,’” says Green.

Santana, who has only been living full-time as a woman since last year, was able to tap into her own experience of growing up in New York as a transgender teenager for the role.

“At one time I hated my father so much because he would always fight with my mother about me,” remembers Santana. “I would hear them through the cracks in the door that I shouldn’t be playing with my little sisters and doing girl things.”

“Gun Hill Road” premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January and has been featured prominently on the gay film-festival circuit before opening commercially in New York City in August.

The Gotham Awards, which honor films produced outside the major studio system, will be handed out in New York on November 28.