Interview with Festival Director Jerzain Ortega (Author’s International Film Festival)

The FIC AUTOR (Author’s International Film Festival) was  founded in 2016 by filmmaker Jerzain Ortega. The festival is interested in unique and artistic films that exceed the limits of traditional storytelling. Feature and Short Films that reflect the director’s personal creative vision, and a style that is distinct enough to shine through the collective process. The first edition of the FIC AUTOR will take place from November 10 to 17, 2017 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. FIC AUTOR will present the very best films from around the world, and honor our first guest, Cannes Caméra d’Or award winner Michael Rowe.

Go to the website at:

 Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Jerzain Ortega: FIC AUTOR makes a very fair selection; we don’t select films
because they have celebrities or a well-known director. Our selection is based on which films are THE BEST, but don’t get me wrong, if a film like “Whiplash” was submitted to the FIC AUTOR, I would accept it, no doubt, because that film is a piece of art, so we are not anti-celebrity, but we are very objective and we won’t be dazzled over a famous face. Also, the filmmaker can feel confident that the jury watched his/her film entirely, because we send the comments from the
jury for free. And we give beautiful rings and trophies made of silver, and we will try our best to sell the films to Mexican distributors.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

JO: A fantastic selection of the best films from around the globe, highly artistic, yet entertaining; a close connection between and with the artists, because everything happens in the same venue; a nice award ceremony open to the public where we will award the best filmmakers of the moment and our first honored guest, Michael Rowe, who will also present his film “Early Winter” and will have a Q&A segment with the

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

JO: Directors must have a style that stands out from the others and the stories must be close to original. The market is full of the same crap, thanks to Hollywood. The audience knows exactly how the guy is going to lose and win back his girlfriend in a comedic love story; they know who is going to die first in a horror movie, or when to expect a lazy jump
scare, etc. A good filmmaker, an author, chews all of those clichés and spits them in the sink, way far from his delicious gourmet dish.

MT: Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

JO: No, I don’t. Film Festivals are business, sounds bad, but they are. And they all earn money from fee submissions and tickets and sponsors and government grants, so most of them, many of them, choose films with a nice cast so they can connect with the audience, sell tickets, have sponsors, increase the tourism –or allow politicians to take their pictures with the stars-, and of course, fabricate the dream almost every filmmaker has, win something and be at the same level of these “great, well-known filmmakers.” But this is bullshit. Every honest filmmaker knows deep inside them, that their dream, our dream, is to have one more night with the audience, in the dark, listening to the laughter, the connection with the characters we create and at the end, hear the applause and feel like an undercover cop hearing the comments on the way out of the theatre. And if you don’t believe me, check the list of the winners of the past editions of the 50 best film festivals, yes you will find a few good ones, but most of them, are public relations, or advertising, or copy-paste selections from other festivals.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

JO: I write a personal email to each filmmaker that submits to the festival. Sometimes this email turns into 10 emails of conversation, most of the filmmakers write me back telling me that it’s very rare to receive a personal letter from a festival director, or that this is the first time a festival treats them like a person. THIS MOTIVATES ME. We built a film festival that treats filmmakers like people and not like
numbers, a festival that is transparent and has its feet on the ground. This is a business, yes, but our business is to celebrate and encourage the emerging and real authors that are out there, to continue making great films. We want to build a festival that every filmmaker in the world can feel proud to participate in.

MT: How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

JO: The response from the filmmakers has been amazing, we have more than 500 submissions and we expect to have many more. And most of these submissions are an amazing quality.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

JO: Here, in Guadalajara, Mexico, but with more sponsors and stronger relationships with distributors so we can help and give more to the FIC AUTOR submitters.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

JO: This one is hard… ROCKY and THE BOURNE IDENTITY, but when I see either of these, I can’t stop; I have to watch the rest of the films from the franchise.

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

JO: The passion that flows through the hands of the artists of each of the film departments, who understand and share the unique vision of a talented writer-director.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

JO: Guadalajara has a strong independent filmmaking community that is growing and producing more and more films each year of our own merits. We don’t have too much support; most of the local government budget for cinema goes to filmmakers from Mexico City, so it is unfair, but we are warriors and we don’t sit with our arms crossed. We figure it out and we
continue producing films.



Jerzain Ortega began his film career as a makeup artist in Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto.” Following this, he studied cinema at Centro de Estudios Cinematográficos INDIe, and worked on a second film as chief makeup artist in Alejandro Ramirez’ “Todos Hemos Pecado.” Later, he financed his first independent film by his own means, “Journal d’un inadapté;” a film made almost entirely by him (one man crew in almost every scene.) He is now producing his second feature film, “Telephone,” a film that will be shot with only one assistant as well. He is also the founder of FIC AUTOR (Author’s International Film Festival.)


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

One thought on “Interview with Festival Director Jerzain Ortega (Author’s International Film Festival)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s