Natalia Lopez Gallardo’s Feature Directing Debut “Robe of Gems” Officially Screens at Berlin Film Festival

Natalia Lopez Gallardo is celebrating her first gem

The Mexican-Bolivian writer, editor and occasional actress’ feature directing debut Robe of Gems has officially screened in competition at the Berlin Film Festival.

Natalia Lopez GallardoSet in the countryside of Mexico, the film sees the fates of three women collide when the case of a missing person leads them on a path of pain and redemption.

Robe of Gems stars Nailea Norvind, Daniel García and newcomers Antonia Olivares and Aida Roa.

In the midst of divorce, Isabel (Norvind) settles in the countryside where she discovers that her housekeeper María (Olivares) has a missing sister. When Isabel offers her help, an unspoken pact to find the missing one is born between the two women. Meanwhile, Roberta (Roa), the local police commander, hopes to rescue her son from the criminal underworld, and ends up crossing paths with Isabel and María. Their destinies come together in a world of confusion and abandonment where, despite it all, the human spirit to rebel against misfortune persists.

López Gallardo’s editing credits include films by Lisandro Alonso, Carlos Reygadas and Amat Escalante. She also heads the high-end post-production studio Splendor Omnia, located near Mexico City.

As a director, her short film In Heaven as it is On Earth was selected for Critics’ Week at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

She says Robe of Gems is about “what we carry inside after years of accumulating, in our minds and dreams, infinite images of torture. Maps of clandestine graves, faces of missing people, homicides of men and women alike. My desire is to refer to a spiritual wound and its psychological dimension — the one that is not visible.”

Armando Espitia Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Armando Espitia is ready for Hollywood…

United Talent Agency (UTA) has signed the 29-year-old Mexican actor in all areas. 

Armando Espitia

Espitia most recently starred in Heidi Ewing’s drama I Carry You With Me, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Awardand Grand Jury Awardin the Next!categories.

Espitia first came to prominence with his leading role in Amat Escalante’s Cannes Film Festival title Heli and also starred as the lead in Nuestras Madreswhich opened at Cannes in Critics’ Weekwhere it picked up the Caméra d’Or.

Additionally, he has appeared in several features including Ayúdame A Pasar La Noche,and Open Cage

On the television side, his credits include Amazon’s Diablo GuardiánTelemundo’s El Recluso as well as History Channel’s Texas Rising

He also founded the theater company Conejo Con Prisa.

Martinez Named Best Actor at This Year’s Venice Film Festival

Oscar Martínez is raising a special cup…

The 66-year-old Argentine actor received the Best Actor Volpi Cup at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.

Oscar Martinez

Martinez picked up the award for his acclaimed performance in “El ciudadano ilustre.”

He’s the first Argentine actor or actress to receive the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival.

But Martinez wasn’t the only Latino winner…

Amat Escalante picked up the Silver Lion for Best Director in a tie with Andrei Konchalovsky. The 37-year-old Mexican filmmaker won the award for his work on La Region Salvaje.

Ruth Diaz was named Best Actress in the Venice Horizons category. The 41-year-old Spanish actress won the award for her performance in The Fury of a Patient Man.

Here’s the full list of winners:


Golden Lion: The Woman Who Left, Lav Diaz
Grand Jury Prize: Nocturnal Animals, dir: Tom Ford
Silver Lion, Best Director: (TIE) Amat Escalante, La Region Salvaje & Andrei Konchalovsky, Paradise
Volpi Cup, Best Actress: Emma Stone, La La Land
Volpi Cup, Best Actor: Oscar Martinez, El Ciudadano Ilustre
Best Screenplay: Noah Oppenheim, Jackie
Special Jury Prize: The Bad Batch, dir: Ana Lily Amirpour
Marcello Mastroianni Award for for Best New Young Actor or Actress: Paula Beer, Frantz 


Best Film: Liberami, dir: Federica Di Giacomo
Best Director: Fien Troch, Home
Special Jury Prize: Big Big World, dir: Reha Erdem
Best Actress: Ruth Diaz, The Fury Of A Patient Man
Best Actor: Nuno Lopes, Sao Jorge
Best Screenplay: Wang Bing, Bitter Money
Best Short Film: La Voz Perdida, dir: Marcelo Martinessi
Lion of the Future – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film: The Last Of Us, dir: Ala Eddine Slim

Best Restoration: Break-Up – The Man With The Balloons, dir: Marco Ferreri
Best Documentary on Cinema: Le Concours, dir: Claire Simon

Escalante Named to This Year’s Marrakech Film Festival Jury

It’s jury time for Amat Escalante

The 34-year-old Mexican filmmaker will join Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson and president Martin Scorsese on this year’s jury for the 13th annual Marrakech Film Festival.

Amat Escalante

Academy Awards aside, the jury is stacked with Cannes Film Festival winners and regulars.

Escalante, this year’s best director winner, was named Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.

South Korean director Park Chan-wook (Stoker, Oldboy), Turkish director Fatih Akin (New York, I Love You) and Moroccan writer-director Narjiss Nejjar, who took home the best screenplay award at Marrakech in 2003 for Les Yeux Secs, will round out the star-studded jury.

The jury votes on the festival’s top prize, the Golden Star, for best film, as well as the jury prize, best actor and best actress. The festival’s slate of 15 films is expected to be announced next week. The festival will pay tribute to Scandinavian cinema in an evening program Dec. 4.

The festival runs Nov. 29-Dec. 7.

Escalante’s “Heli” Representing Mexico in the Outstanding Foreign Language Film Oscar Race

Amat Escalante could possibly land his first Oscar nomination…

The 34-year-old Spain-born Mexican filmmaker’s critically acclaimed film Heli has been submitted to represent Mexico in the Outstanding Foreign Language Film Oscar race by the Academia Mexicana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas.

Amat Escalante

The film, which earned Escalante the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, offers a stark look at the effects of crime and corruption in Mexico.

It centers on a 12-year-old girl who falls in love with a young police cadet who wants to run away with her and get married. He gets mixed up cartels when he decides to smuggle drugs to earn money, with violent and tragic consequences.

Heli earned the best international film award at this year’s Munich International Film Festival and the Best Film prize at the Lima Film Festival.

Escalante’s “Heli” Named Best Film at Lima Film Festival

Amat Escalante is having one Heli of an festival season…

The 34-year-old Mexican director’s latest film, Heli, won the prize for best film at the 17th Lima Film Festival, which drew more than 121,000 people, according to organizers.

Amat Escalante

Escalante won the best director prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, and Heli was named best international film award at this year’s Munich International Film Festival.

The ultra-violent film, which takes a look at Mexico’s blood-drenched drug wars, tells the story of a family caught up in gangland battles in an unnamed desert region of contemporary Mexico and contains protracted torture scenes.

Argentine-Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio won the best director prize for Gloria, whose star, Paulina Garcia, took home the best actress prize.

Uruguayan actor Nestor Guzzini won the best actor prize for his role in Tanta Agua, a work by Uruguayan filmmakers Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge.

Brazilian actress Gloria Pires was honored during the festival’s closing ceremony.

“I feel honored, I don’t believe I deserve to be at the same level as the other honorees,” Pires said.

The actress thanked her father, actor and comedian Antonio Carlos Pires, and filmmakers Fabio and Bruno Barreto, with whom she worked on movies like Flores raras and O Quatrilho.

Escalante Named to International Jury Panel at the Venice Film Festival

He’s impressed international film festival panels with his film Heli… And, now Amat Escalante will be judging other filmmakers and their work.

Amat Escalante

The 34-year-old Mexican filmmaker, who was named Best Director at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, has been added to the international jury panel at the 70th Venice Film Festival.

Escalante’s Heli won the Best International Film honors at the Munich International Film Festival, helping to further raise the filmmaker’s stock in the film industry.

The Venice Film Festival runs from August 20 to September 7.

Escalante’s “Heli” Earns Best International Film Honors at Munich International Film Festival

Amat Escalante’s latest project continues to impress international audiences…

The 34-year-old Mexican director’s drug drama Heli was named the winner of the Arri/Osram best international film award at this year’s Munich International Film Festival.

Amat Escalante

Heli, an independent Mexican crime drama released in May, tells the story of the titular protagonist (portrayed by Armando Espitia), a 17-year-old boy living with his wife (Linda González) and his sister, Estela (Adrea Vergara).

The film follows the arcs of these characters and Estela’s boyfriend (Juan Eduardo Palacios) as they struggle with drugs, violence, and corruption.


It’s the latest award for the Escalante, who was named best director at the Cannes Film Festival for his exceptional work on Heli.

Meanwhile, his fellow countryman Sebastian Hofmann won the CineVision prize for his debut, the horror tale Halley.

The drama/horror film tells the story of Alberto, who forms an unusual friendship with Luly, the manager of the 24-hour gym where he works as a night guard.

Escalante Wins Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival

Despite strong competition from the likes of the Coen Brothers and Asghar Farhadi, Amat Escalante has managed to take home some serious Cannes hardware.

The 34-year-old Mexican filmmaker on Sunday won the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his ultra-violent film Heli, which takes a look at Mexico’s blood-drenched drug wars.

Amat Escalante

Escalante, who was forced onto the defensive after the film’s violence left some members of the audience uneasy, paid tribute to this year’s Cannes jury headed by Steven Spielberg.

“This earthquake, I wasn’t expecting this! Thank you to this brave jury… to Mexico, I hope we never get used to suffering… ” he said.

Heli tells the story of a family caught up in gangland battles in an unnamed desert region of contemporary Mexico and contains protracted torture scenes.

In one scene, a character sets the genitals of a suspected cocaine thief ablaze.

Escalante reacted to criticism of the film by calling it an accurate depiction of the situation in underworld crime-blighted Mexico.

And he dismissed critical questions about upsetting audiences.

“What’s the point of not showing the violence just so the audience can go through the story and not suffer so much when actually that’s not how violence is in real life?” he asked reporters.

“I think I’m curious about sex and death and violence, and so that’s all in the film,” added Escalante, whose last picture Los Bastardos, set among the Mexican community in Los Angeles, played in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section in 2008.

Heli features amateur actors, telling the story of a police cadet who falls for the 12-year-old sister of a factory worker named Heli (Armando Espitia).

Variety called Heli “an accomplished but singularly unpleasant immersion” into the drug wars and noted that it was the most “explicit, realistically violent film” in the Cannes competition in several years.

However Robbie Collin, a reviewer for London’s Daily Telegraph, said: “Even a bleak existence can make an uplifting story.”

Heli may be the most optimistic film you will ever see in which one young man sets another’s genitals on fire,” he wrote.