Once a year, cinema and film industry elite flock to Los Cabos, Mexico for the annual Los Cabos International Film Festival. Held every November, this celebration seeks to promote dialogue and cultural exchange of the North American film industry. For five days, Los Cabos transforms into a hub for the cinema arts and welcomes people from all over the world to experience the magic of the movie theatre alongside directors, actors, industry professionals and thousands of other film lovers.
The festival was established in 2012 by a group of Mexican and American film directors, producers and distributors, including brothers Sean and Scott Cross. Their goal was to create a festival which celebrates all of North American film, while offering targeted support and dedication to the development of local Mexican filmmakers. These global and local initiatives have been attracting some of Hollywood’s best since the inception of the festival. It’s recognized that this is an environment where the arts can truly come alive. After the birth of the event, the festival quickly rose in importance and size. This is no surprise considering Los Cabos is a familiar playground for Hollywood movie makers.
The main program of the festival consists of two competitive sections: The Competencia Los Cabos section is for submissions from Canada, USA and Mexico. Nine films are chosen for this section, and each film is screened for audiences and industry alike. The second section is the Mexico Primero, which is reserved for Mexican films. The focus here is turned towards the countries top filmmakers and honours their skills and storytelling abilities, with six films competing for the prize. More often than not, the world premier of Mexican and even some international films happen here. In addition to these main categories, there are numerous other awards for filmmakers to take home, including an audience choice prize which attendees can vote on. The schedule of screenings and awards is jam-packed for all five days, with over $350,000 USD awarded in prizes.
Los Cabos Film Fest: Things to Do
If you’re staying in Los Cabos during the festival, you’ll find no shortage of parties and events. The whole surrounding area comes alive with bars, restaurants and lounges catering to their international visitors. It’s a great opportunity for you to indulge in some luxury experiences and also network your way through the town. A really wonderful place to get your evening started is the Sunset MonaLisa restaurant. It’s close to the festival center, and situated on the edge of a cliff. You can sip from the menu of 140 wines and spirit while looking out onto the water as the sun sets. Then it’s off to a screening or gala. You’ll probably want to attend some of the official parties too. Each night of the festival, there are galas held to welcome the stars and VIPS. You can get exclusive tickets for these events if you want to get up and close. Dress formal and rub shoulders with industry elite at the red carpet before sitting down in the luxury Cinemex theatres for a feature screening. On opening and closing night, there are exclusive cocktail parties for ticket holders.
VIP guests will head to five-star hotels and be treated with mezcal cocktails, Mexican hors de oeuvres and dulce de leche. There is live entertainment, dancing and a cigar booths for procure rolled cigars to order. To round it all off, there might be a fireworks show ending these evenings.
Oh the Galas!
Each year, the Los Cabos International Film Festival puts major films and contributors at the forefront of their programming. Filmmakers, actors and directors who have made great contributions to the art of cinema are honored. On the opening and closing night of the festival, a winning film from the previous is celebrated. These star studded events open with a red carpet trod by actors, models and film industry professionals. In the past, such Hollywood luminaries as Ewan McGregor, Rosario Dawson, Liam Neeson and Reese Witherspoon have taken to the Los Cabos Red Carpet.
Then there are the Tribute Galas for films that have made an outstanding impact on cinema and culture. In 2018, Spike Lee was honored and in attendance to present his film BlacKkKlansmen and his classic Do The Right Thing. Terry Gillam was also honored, presenting The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and a retrospective on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Both were awarded the Exceptional Contribution to Cinema History title. To attend these exclusive galas, make a charitable contribution to the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund. This will give you access to all parties, galas, concerts and the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund Dinner.
Niche Film Features
Once the sun goes down, the festival runs an alternative film program for those interested in suspense and extreme narratives. The Afterdark block features sci-fi, horror and psychological dramas popular on the festival circuit of that year. Viewers can sit in a cool, dark theater with gourmet movie snacks and cocktails while taking in the best indie horror films. Other programs to attend include the World Highlights feature, a carefully curated program that presents the best films selected from every corner of the earth. There is also the environmentally themed Green program, and the music-centric curation: B-Sides.
Daylight in Los Cabos
There is a laid back, come and go vibe to the daytime schedule of the Los Cabos International Film Festival. Your day might be peppered with screenings on the beach, panels, and even industry-exclusive events if you can get a hold of an entry pass. There are indoor screenings as well so you can cool down for a while before heading back to explore Los Cabos. Many of the programs have their screenings during the day, so check the schedule and plan to catch the films you’re interested in. These are festival circuit films so you won’t have another chance to see them until their wide release! Daytime is the perfect time to see the rest of Los Cabos. If you’re interested in getting some rest and relaxation in before your evening of glitz and glamour, go for a visit to the adults only Spa Makaw at Grand Sirenis Matlali Hills. Indulge in a milk bath, facial, hand reflexology and foot wrap known as the Terapia Tahanie treatment. If you need something new for the red carpet, head out for some luxury shopping
Enjoy an early dinner with some fresh farm-to-table cuisine at the Acre Restaurant, where the award winning menu changes with the season. Be sure to try a drink from the expertly curated mezcal menu and get yourself ready for a night of culture and cinematic appreciation.
Since 2012, the festival has been steadily growing. Each year, guests and attendants alike have given rave reviews for the beautiful parties, amenities and overall grandeur of the event. If the next edition is anything like past ones, you’ll be in for a treat when you attend. Spike Lee and Terry Gilliam were the guests of honor at the 2018 edition of the festival, and many other stars have attended over the years. Also in 2018, Adam Driver was presented with the Outstanding Work in Cinema award. The winner of the Mexico Primero Award was Feral by Andres Kaiser, and Canadian film Genese by Philippe Lesage took home the Los Cabos Competition Award. The opening and closing films were The Favourite by Yorgos Lanthimos and BlacKkKlansmen by Spike Lee, respectively.
Among the 2020 winners is Never Ready Sometimes Always by Eliza Hittman and In Between Dying by Hilal Baydarov.
Where to stay
During the Los Cabos International Film Festival, the entire city comes alive. Staying in Los Cabos not only means you’ll be close to all the excitement, but you’ll also have access to amazing waterfronts and activities you can’t find anywhere else. Check out our list of can’t-miss beaches to get your tan photo ready for the film fest nights. If you’re looking for some outdoor excitement, we’ve got an itinerary of outdoor fun as well. End each night of gala magic in privacy and comfort by treating yourself to a private vacation home. With many of our rentals, you’ll have on site staff, a private chef, amazing pools and ocean access all to yourself.
Book with us today and reserve the perfect villa for your Los Cabos International Film Festival trip.