The Oaxaca FilmFest is one of the best film festivals I have had the pleasure to attend in my 15-plus year career touring the circuit internationally.

The experience is simply magical. It’s a destination film festival, one that you not only enjoy as a filmmaker but also as an explorer.

Cobblestoned streets wind through the brightly colored colonial architecture, lush green parks, majestic cathedrals, and secret gardens and courtyards of Oaxaca. Just on the outside of the city, the magnificent pre-Columbian ruins of Monte Albán stand like a sentinel, guarding the picturesque town throughout the ages. Bustling markets offer an abundance of fresh spices, mole, chiles, organic chocolate, delicious cuisine, crafts and art created by indigenous artisans, practiced in the age old traditions of the Zapotec culture. Oh, and the mezcal. Don’t even get me started about the mezcal!

The ruins of Monte Alban. Photograph by Byron A. Martin

The ruins of Monte Alban. Photograph by Byron A. Martin

The Oaxaca FilmFest’s New Industry workshops offer current information in the disciplines of screenwriting, marketing, and distribution. Exciting press conferences, well-attended networking events, wild parties, and packed screenings make this “the Sundance of the South,” as it has been called—and one of MovieMaker‘s 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee in 2015.

Photograph by Douglas Favero

Photograph by Douglas Favero

The fifth edition of the festival welcomed actor-director Luke Wilson, who was competing in the official selection with his short “Satellite Beach.” Besides setting up a press conference to promote his film, Wilson visited various local schools to speak to students about filmmaking as per one of the festival’s main goal—to create a bridge between international filmmakers and the local communities. We spoke to Wilson about his experiences in Oaxaca.

Filmmakers, screenwriters and producers are treated like royalty and welcomed by the warm festival staff headed by general director Ramiz Adeeb Azar and executive director Ana Echenique, who go out of their way to make sure your experience in Oaxaca is unforgettable. (Watch the following interview with both festival directors.) It’s easy to become part of the family at Oaxaca FilmFest, and this charming place will never leave your heart. MM

The sixth edition of the Oaxaca FilmFest will be held from October 9-17, 2015. Submissions are now open. For more information or to submit please visit the festival website or email [email protected].

Patricia Chica (@PatriciaChica) is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker residing in Los Angeles. She has attended the Oaxaca FilmFest since 2011 and has also been a speaker, lecturer and guest programmer at the festival. This article was written with the assistance of Kamal John Iskander, a filmmaker and winner of the Best International Screenplay award for The Gospel according to Charlie at the fifth Oaxaca FilmFest. Top image by Byron A. Martin.