South American exhib quota proposed

Potential regs could raise hackles of H'w'd, Euro distribs

Korea may be slashing its cinema screen quota, but South American countries are pressing ahead with one of their own.

So explained Jorge Alvarez, prexy of Argentina’s film institute, INCAA, who is leading Argentina’s producer delegation at the Berlinale.

A pan-continental exhib quota was proposed at a film pow-wow held during Uruguay’s Punta del Este film fest early February, said Alvarez. Summit was attended by state film org toppers from South America’s biggest trade block, the Mercosur. Alvarez is prexy of Mercosur Audiovisual, the trade area’s film arm.

While Argentina and Brazil have quotas, there are few hindrances to the release of Hollywood and European movies on Latin American screens. Instituting any such pan-Latin American regs could raise the hackles of Hollywood, and European distributors as well.

Summit discussed extending protectionist quotas to other member states: Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela.

Mercosur will regroup after Argentina’s Mar del Plata fest in mid-March, said Alvarez.

A quota would have to be met by national pics, plus films from other Mercosur states, and would vary from country to country. Quota will now be presented for industry consultations, Alvarez added.

The pan-regional quota thrust is no pipe dream.

Argentina and Brazil boast significant film industries: 67 Argentinian pics bowed in the country last year. A healthy clutch proved to be blockbusters. Pic production is lifting off in Chile and now Venezuela.

Quotas could spark U.S. trade reprisals. But Argentina and Brazil are lukewarm about trade agreements with the U.S., Bolivia is wary and Venezuela virulently opposed.

The Punta del Este summit also analyzed the creation of a pan-regional distribution fund. This would support P&A onMercosur pics released in other member countries. A decision on the distribution fund will be made after the Mar del Plata fest.

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