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FICM pays tribute to the extraordinary José María Riba

By: Gustavo R. Gallardo

The Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) paid a posthumous tribute to the Spanish journalist, film critic and great friend of the festival, José María Riba. An armchair with his name was unveiled in room 5 of Cinépolis Centro. During the event, Daniela Michel, founder and director of FICM, and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel, vice president of the festival, were present.

Daniela Michel, Cuahutémoc Cárdenas Batel

Daniela Michel, Cuahutémoc Cárdenas Batel

“José María Riba was a wonderful friend, there won’t be anyone like him in the world of cinema. He saw each film with a cursory analysis and treated every filmmaker with great respect,” Daniela Michel said.

During his period as a delegate for the Cannes Critics’ Week, José María Riba selected the films Cronos (1993) and Amores perros (2000). In addition, he worked at the San Sebastián and Morelia Film Festival, and co-founded Espagnolas en París, a group of film professionals that organizes the Différent! Festival and promotes the regular presence of Spanish cinema in France.

Daniela Michel

Daniela Michel

Daniela Michel remembered when José María Riba suggested that she show the cinematographic work in progress, which led to Impulso Morelia, a section which provides support so that filmmakers can finish their projects. After this year, the award will be named after José María Riba.

“He was Mexican cinema’s best friend. He taught me many things and I am deeply grateful for it. He is my teacher and he would have liked to know that we are here together doing this edition of FICM to support Mexican filmmakers, which for him was the most important thing,” said Daniela Michel.

The Unveiling of the Armchair

As part of the tribute, an armchair with José María Riba’s name was unveiled by the director and vice president of the festival, Daniela Michel and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel.

“In his last trips to Morelia he’d humorously and lovingly declare: ‘When I arrived in Morelia I was the director of the Critics’ Week and I ended up losing my name, now I am Luna’s father.” He said it with humor, but I know he said it with pride ”, recalled Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel.

In addition, she said that having his armchair is a reminder of the festival’s commitment to maintaining rigor and quality “that he taught us in the projects that he selected, both in the competitions and in Impulso Morelia.”

After the unveiling of the armchair, there was a screening of the documentary short film, Un agradecimiento por siempre, by Lila Avilés. The Mexican director who collected several anecdotes from personalities from the world of cinema who knew José María Riba closely, among which are Jean-Christophe Berjon, Nicholas Philibert, Linda Ziter, Andrea Stavenhagen, Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes Festival, who said: “He didn’t take himself seriously, but he took cinema seriously.”