Juan Antonio de la Riva (b. 1953, San Miguel de Cruces, Durango) is well-known as both a writer and director. His love of cinema began during his childhood in his home state of Durango. He and his father ran a travelling cinema that toured the mountains screening films to workers in the sawmills. Since then he has always pursued his desire to portray the face of his memory, his people and his time.
In 1978, he graduated from the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (Mexico’s prestigious film school). His thesis was the short film Polvo vencedor del sol, awarded at the Lille Film Festival in France as well as the recipient of the Ariel for Best Short at the Mexican Academy Awards. His first feature-length film, Wandering Lives (1984) received the FIPRESCI award and New Directors award at the San Sebastián Film Festival. Wooden Town (1990) received the Special Jury Prize at the Huelva Film Festival in Spain, as well as the award for Best Screenplay at the Havana Film Festival in Cuba.
Juan Antonio de la Riva is part of the wave of Mexican directors who in the 1980s struggled to make independent films with more personal themes. After a career spanning more than 30 years, he continues to believe that, "It is important to feel that the film has meaning or value beyond mere entertainment or the mere desire to make a movie. Making the testimony of something real, alive and which lingers in the memory, in my case, the people of Durango."
Mónica del Carmen (b. 1982, Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz, Oaxaca) is a highly regarded Mexican actress and a graduate from the National School of Dramatic Arts in Mexico City.
In 2011, Mónica starred in the lead role in Leap Year (Año bisiesto) by director Michael Rowe. The film won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes and Best First Film at the Mexican Academy Awards. The film gave Mónica national and international exposure, for which she received the Silver Ariel Award for Best Actress at the Mexican Academy Awards, as well as the award for Best Actress at the Molodist International Film Festival in Kiev, Ukraine.
Mónica has acted in more than 10 feature-length films, including 600 Miles by Gabriel Ripstein (Official Selection at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival), After Lucia (Después de Lucía) by Michel Franco (Official Selection at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival) and Babel by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Winner of the 2007 Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama), among many others.
She actively works in theatre, and recently played roles in Safari in Tepito and Mendoza. With this most recent production of Mendoza, she has travelled throughout Mexico, Latin America and Europe in the last year.
Baljit Sangra (b. Vancouver, BC) has been working in documentary and factual entertainment for over 10 years with an emphasis on exploring social and cross-cultural issues through film. Currently she is in production with Omni TV on a hockey documentary, as well as a social issues documentary with the National Film Board of Canada.
In 2014, Baljit directed/produced (also with Omni TV) the documentary Many Rivers Home, a personal story that focuses on South Asian seniors living in assisted care at the end of life. In association with the NFB and Canwest, in 2008 she directed/produced the documentary Warrior Boyz that examines the long-running gang scene unique to the Indo-Canadian enclave in the Lower Mainland. Her films have premiered at many festivals internationally and have been nominated for three Leo Awards. She also produced several seasons of the A&E series VIVA! for CityTV and Channel M.
Baljit runs her own production company, Viva Mantra Films, and is always looking to meeting new people and collaborators for various film projects. Viva Mantra Films has produced a number of international features and collaborated with productions from all over the globe. Baljit has volunteered her time in the past as a board member of both the Documentary Organization of Canada and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival.