Brazil, Argentina pact as others look to 'neighbors'

HOLLYWOOD — In a bid to foster a greater exchange of local pics within South America, the film institute heads of Mercosur member countries Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Bolivia will convene during Argentina’s Mar del Plata Intl. Film Festival on Sunday and Monday. High on the agenda will be the creation of a joint film policy and the possible integration of the six countries’ film institutes.

“We can’t rely on our own markets to recoup our film production costs, so we need to reach out to our neighbors and facilitate a free exchange of our respective cinemas,” said Alberto Flaksman, chief of Brazilian Film Promotion Abroad.

Brazil and Argentina, the most prolific film producers in the region, recently hammered out an exchange accord, which kicked off in January. As a result, at least eight films from Argentina will find distribution in Brazil and vice versa this year, compared with three last year.

A fund extends aid to distributors to help shoulder their P&A expenses and to reduce their risks.

“We hope to extend this program to other countries in the region,” said Flaksman.

So far, the success of Latino films in their neighboring countries has been limited to those that have become hits outside the region. Argentinian pic “Son of the Bride,” a foreign-language Oscar nominee in 2002, attracted a decent 300,000 admissions in Brazil.

Mercosur was founded in 1991 as part of an ambitious plan to create a common market for member countries Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Chile and Bolivia joined in 1996.

Mar del Plata opened Wednesday and wraps March 20.

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