Euro buyers lather up Latino soaps

'Avassaladoras,' 'Cleopatra' among pix heading to Romania

Spurred by the success of Latino soaps — telenovelas — in Eastern Europe, buyers from this region have been snapping up Latino pics, especially ones starring telenovela thesps. Pics, however, only play on TV.

Kevin Williams of Madrid-based KWA sold Brazilian romantic comedy “Avassaladoras” (Overwhelming Women) to Romania’s Acasa, a channel entirely devoted to telenovelas and other Latino product, on the strength of its cast which included Brazilian telenovela thesp Giovanna Antonelli.

“These actors are extremely popular in Eastern Europe,” said Latido Films sales exec Giannina Antola. “I was so surprised to see its buyers recognize the actors.”

Latido sold “Cleopatra,” a comedy from Argentine production powerhouse Patagonik Film Group to Romania based on the presence of telenovela thesp Natalia Oreiro.

This year, Eastern European buyers are circling another pic on Latido’s slate, “Oculto,” a Spanish coproduction starring sizzling Colombian thesp Angie Cepeda, who has toplined various popular telenovelas since 1993. Cepeda’s film career kicked off in 2000 when she starred in Colombian hit “Pantaleon y los visitadoras” by Francisco Lombardi.

Brazilian sales company Grupo Novo has sold a raft of pics coproduced by Globo Filmes, the film division of Brazil’s media behemoth Globo TV, to Eastern Europe. These include romantic comedy “Possible loves,” four-sister drama “A Partilha,” comedy “Durval Discos and Brazilian-Mexican coproduction “Sexo, Amor e Traicao.”

Still, chances for a theatrical distribution of these pics are close to impossible in these small and underscreened territories.

More often than not, their few screens are dominated by Hollywood pics.

“Romania has only 60 screens,” said Neli-Cecilia Gheorghe, distribution manager of Romanian distribber Provideo. Poland does better with 700 screens but these are also packed with Hollywood fare.

“We bought all rights to higher profile Latino films such as ‘Amores Perros’ and ‘Y tu Mama tambien’ but we had trouble finding exhibitors to screen them,” said Vision Film’s international sales and acquisitions exec Artur Godlewski.

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