Patagonik eyes funds

Argentina film outfit seeking U.S. coin

Argentina’s biggest film production outfit — almost its only working film production house — Pablo Bossi’s Patagonik Film Group, is in talks with a U.S. venture-capital company to create a fund which would invest in a portfolio of future Patagonik projects.

Producers of “Nine Queens” and “The Son of the Bride,” Patagonik is co-owned by Buena Vista Intl., Spain’s Admira and Argentina’s Clarin Group, with 30% a piece. Bossi owns the remaining 10%.

A deal has yet to be struck with the Miami-based Latino investors. But it is a mark of the changing face, and growing appeal, of Argentinian pic production, Patagonik’s Octavio Nadal tells Variety.

Other developments marking the region, according to Nadal include:

  • The growth of a new and more cultured U.S. audience for Latin American films in second-generation Hispanics.

  • More commercial projects from Argentinian helmers as they turn to bigger production companies to finance their pics.

  • The Argentinian INCAA film institute looks set to directly tap a 10% levy from cinema tickets. Over the last year, the coin was collected by the government, but the org has had difficulties accessing it.

  • A new wave of Latino pics, such as “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “Amores Perros,” “Queens” and “Son,” which mix an auteur vision with genre structures.

Following the fall of the Argentinian peso against the dollar, Patagonik and other Argentine companies will begin to offer production services to international projects.

“These days you can make a film in Argentina for $1 million. So it’s relatively easy to raise $4 million or $5 million and invest it in various films, reducing risk exposure,” says Nadal.

Such investment could complement the traditional financing formula of twinning Argentinian subsidies with European pay TV sales, which are now in crisis, Nadal adds.

Patagonik produced or co-produced nine films last year. “We’re now more cautious,” says Nadal. The company looks set to produce some two films in 2002 and three to four in 2003.

Upcoming projects include Marcelo Pineyro’s “Kamchatka,” toplining Ricardo Darin (“Queens,” “Son of the Bride”) and Cecilia Roth (“All About My Mother”).

Set against the background of the Argentinian dictatorship, pic turns on a 12-year-old vision of family crises. Pic is co-produced with Francisco Ramos’ Alquimia Cinema and Argentina’s Oskar Kramer.

Patagonik is in talks to invest in Luis Puenzo’s next film, with the working title: “La Puta y la Ballena.”

Patagonik also has a screenplay, “Pulenta,” which won its annual script contest. The previous winner was Fabian Bielinsky with “Nine Queens.”

After SRO market screenings, Juan Jose Campanella’s “The Son of the Bride” will receive an extra screening tonight at the Cannes market.

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