ExperiencesEventsIFF Panamá: a grand celebration of film

IFF Panamá: a grand celebration of film

The 2022 Panama International Film Festival takes place December 2-4 and this year’s grand celebration of the Seventh Art in Latin America features rich and entertaining programming with films from France, Spain, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Panama.

By Winnie T. Sittón

Photos: IFF Panamá

The eleventh Panama International Film Festival is only days away. From December 2-4, the festival will occupy spaces throughout the Panamanian capital, such as La Manzana and the Canal Museum amphitheater in the Casco Viejo neighborhood. Although more compact than pre-pandemic festivals, this year the event is 100% live and full of great films, industry-oriented activities, and Seventh Art celebrities.

“I’m very pleased with what we’re offering this year. Obviously, because this year’s festival is only three days long, we can’t program the same number of films as in other years. But we have put together a very rich program of films and guests, which is certain to intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally stimulate our audience and the industry professionals who participate in the festival,” commented Pituka Ortega Heilbron, general director and founder of IFF Panama.

Bernardo Ordás Guardia, co-director of the IFF Panama Foundation, agreed that audiences can expect a more intimate festival in 2022, which will provide a profound cinema experience that demonstrates the vitality and power this festival has gained over a decade. “The festival continues its course despite adversities and I am very excited to return this year to a fully face-to-face format, carrying forward our mission of providing cinema that nourishes the spirit.”

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Movies with purpose and rich narratives

This year, eleven gems from various countries in America and Europe will be screened during the festival. Among the most notable is Stars at Noon, based on the novel by Denis Johnson, which was written and directed by acclaimed French filmmaker Claire Denis. The film, starring Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn, was shot on Panamanian soil; it will shine at the IFF Panama opening gala after winning the Grand Prix at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. And, of course, the film’s director will be among the stars to walk the red carpet that night at the Ateneo Theater in the Ciudad del Saber.


“I never imagined an experience as huge as this, especially since the journey that led to the film being shot in Panama began right here, at the 2014 IFF Panama, which Claire attended and really enjoyed. This really speaks to what the festival means for our country and the Panamanian film industry,” added filmmaker Pituka Ortega Heilbron.

The Costa Rican film Domingo y la niebla (Domingo and the Fog) by director Ariel Escalante Meza is among the other films on offer. Winner of the IFF Panama Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Primera Mirada award, the film was also included in the 2022 Cannes Festival’s Un Certain Regard section. Documentary films include the Panamanian production Para su tranquilidad, haga su propio museo (For Your Peace of Mind, Make Your Own Museum) by directors Pilar Moreno and Ana Endara Mislov, which has screened successfully at prestigious festivals including the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), HotDocs in Canada, and Cinelatino in Toulouse.

The list of confirmed titles for this year’s event also includes El caso Padilla/The Padilla Case (Spain and Cuba) by Pavel Giroud; El leopardo de las nieves/The Snow Leopard (France) by Marie Amiguet; Titus y Margot/Titus and Margot (Panama) by Mercedes Arias and Delfina Vidal; and Bratan (Tajikistan) by Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov.

Strengthening the region

In alliance with IDB Lab (the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank Group), the IFF Panama Foundation promotes year-round training activities aimed at strengthening the industry through the FORCINEMA Program. Other festival activities include workshops, seminars, and master classes geared toward industry professionals, and several training events open to the general public, with activities for children and adolescents.

Karla Quintero, IFF Panama’s Industry Coordinator and Educational Programmer, explained: “This year’s activities will provide accredited students with theoretical and practical tools to strengthen the production of our stories. This includes planning a film’s distribution, the final and vital phase of any project, which is a subject that tends to get little attention in film schools but that needs to be incorporated into the planning and pre-production of any film.”

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