China, Argentina pair on monster backlot

China’s massive Hengdian studios group and Argentina’s INCAA Film Institute are teaming on the construction of a large new studio complex, the Ciudad del Cine (Cinema City), in Argentina.

Plan is for the Ciudad to sprawl over 500 acres, and boast at least two soundstages, plus backlots, dedicated sets re-creating European and Argentinian locations, production offices, and f/x facilities and labs, INCAA prexy Jorge Alvarez told Variety at Cannes.

A business plan, drawn up during Alvarez’s visit last week to China, first sees INCAA securing cheap land, tax breaks for investment and governmental approval for construction.

The last, Alvarez said, is already in the bag.

If the other conditions are met, Hengdian’s private-sector owners would then go out and find Chinese investors to bankroll the Ciudad’s costs.

A Cinema City is just one line of collaboration being thrashed out between Argentina and the Zhejiang regional authorities, home to the Hengdian complex. Another is a production agreement.

This could mean that if an Argentine film shoots at Hengdian, and is OK’d by Chinese authorities, it could qualify for nationwide distribution in China, Alvarez said.

INCAA has also struck a multi-pronged agreement with China’s State Administration for Radio Film and Televisions (SARFT), which will see a China focus at next March’s Mar del Plata Festival, a larger presence of Argentinian films in future editions of the Shanghai fest, the presence of actors in other country productions, and the promotion of the two national cinemas on TV networks. A co-production treaty has been broached.

The Argentina-China accords form just part of Argentina’s push into international filmmaking and co-production.

On Wednesday at Cannes, Alvarez and Italian governmental film honcho Gaetano Blandini signed off on a joint film development fund, with Italy contributing an initial E200,000 ($270,000).

The two countries inked a co-production treaty in November, allowing 10% minority Argentina co-production with Italy.

Argentina and France have signed a new co-production accord, easing past regs, allowing pics with just 10% Argentine coin to qualify as an Argentine co-production, and so able to pull down state subsidy coin.

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