Justiniano-helmed 'Caballo' is first pic on slate

Chile-based Latin American distributor PWI has launched a film production company in Los Angeles.

PWI Cinema will produce pics aimed at U.S. Hispanic auds and sell domestic rights to selected pics from the region.

First on its production slate is “El Caballo de Copas,” based on the novel “My Horse Gonzalez” by Fernando Alegria, a Chilean author residing in San Francisco. Chilean director Gonzalo Justiniano, whose latest pic “B-Happy” screens during IFP’s Los Angeles Film Festival (June 17-26), is attached to direct the horse-racing drama in San Francisco. PWI Cinema holds the worldwide rights to “B-Happy.”

“We have been so encouraged by Televisa Cine’s box office success with ‘A Day Without a Mexican,’ ” said Matias Lira, exec veep of PWI, USA. The English-language satire by Sergio Arau ranked at No. 12 after three weeks on just 100-plus prints in California and a few Texan screens.

PWI set up shop in Los Angeles a year ago to distribute DVDs of classic Latin American pics under the Vera Cruz label. Lira has observed how Wal-Mart and other retailers have increased their sections dedicated to Latino titles.

“Attention to Latino titles have grown from mere inclusions in the foreign-language section to entire shelves devoted to them,” he said.

The 10-year-old distrib is run by Arturo Feliu. PWI has distributed such pics as “Monster,” “The Pianist” and “In the Bedroom” in the region.

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