Fun In The Sun At The Miami Film Festival

Mariachi Gringo
Mariachi Gringo

The 19th annual Miami International Film Festival--a wonderfully inclusive and unpretentious happening--sent me down for the weekend, and I even got extra leg room on the plane!

And it was orgasmic to stroll around in the 80-something-degree weather and to pause each night for some air-conditioned culture.

The opening night film was Mariachi Gringo, about a lily white guy from Kansas who travels to Guadalajara to find a guitar, a gal, and a mission.

The openly gay director Tom Gustafson and his partner Cory Krueckeberg had fallen in love with Mexico when casting a Hollywood epic down there.

Spotting a mariachi singer on a New York subway some time later, they got the idea for the movie, wondering what it would be like to pursue that cultural genre from the outside jumping in.

"There's so much negative stuff in the news about Mexico," Gustafson told me, "and this film is not about that. It celebrates the culture and the country."

If not Kansas so much.

Kate Burton plays the guy's mom, who moans, "Why would you want to live in a Third World country?"

("There have been beheadings down there" adds dad Tom Wopat, dripping with concern.)

But the "gringo" mainly encounters music, food, and even a gay flirtation (though one audience member bizarrely commented that she was glad it was "subtle, not the main thing in the film.")

And it features Lila Downs, an amazingly powerful singer who appeared live at the premiere to show how it's done, complete with pretty dress and hand gestures.

Speaking of happy body language, check these out.

Fun In The Sun At The Miami Film Festival
Photo by William Love
William Love and I atop the Betsy Hotel
William Love and I atop the Betsy Hotel

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