The pandemic certainly shut down movie theaters around the world and postponed renowned film festivals such as those of Cannes in France and Tribeca in New York City. However, for filmmakers, like Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, the crisis could not stop the film festival they funded in 2005.
Ambulante Cine Documental Itinerante, as its original name suggests, usually tours around Mexico for two months and aims to bring film to those communities where film is not popular. Through the years, the festival has evolved and changed the way these communities see film as a form of art. Not only did people begin to show their interest in the films brought by Garcia and Luna, but children and young adults also expressed their inclination toward the process of filmmaking.
The outcome of the interest shown by these people prompted García and Luna to create a program, where these young people could learn the craft of filmmaking and share it to the Mexican and foreign audiences through Ambulante.
Hence, for the ambitious festival funders, García and Luna, the idea of postponing the date of the celebration that ‘gives voice to the voiceless’ was simply unacceptable.
As an alternative, the organizers of the festival decided to continue with the program in an online format that made possible for film fans around the world to watch the documentaries. From April 29th to May 28th, at midnight, the festival released a documentary on their webpage to the general audience. To continue with the celebration of the film released, the organizers opened a virtual conversation the next day that included the filmmaker, the organizers, and the audience with the help of social media.
It is worth noting that for the founders and everyone involved at Ambulante, it was essential that filmmakers, the press, and the audience continued to share their concerns, especially amidst these uncertain times. Postponing or shutting down the festival would have posited a disadvantage to those filmmakers who continue to make their voice heard through Cinema.
As García pointed out in the inaugural remote press conference of the festival:
“Los documentales tocan los temas que son importantes y que tienen que ser hablados.”
“Documentaries bring attention to themes that are important and that are worth talking about.”
Over the past few years, the festival not only became one of the most beloved events in Mexico, but it also became attractive to foreign audiences and toured the United States, El Salvador, and Colombia.
This year, Ambulante Itinerant Documentary Cinema celebrated an unusual fifteen-anniversary that brought sixty-seven documentaries to the screen of millions of film fans around the globe. Twenty-five of those films were created by Mexican filmmakers and the other forty-two were made by filmmakers from all over the world.
With a diverse list of themes that included censorship, migration, and civil unrest in Mexico among many others, the festival continued to do what it first did in 2005- it made Cinema accessible.
For more information about the festival visit: https://www.ambulante.org/en/ or visit their social media profiles on Instagram (@ambulanteac), and on Twitter (@Ambulante). You can also follow the hashtag #ambulantegiracontigo on both platforms.