Mexican shingle bows genre distribution label

Canana Films, the Mexican producer-distributor shingle of Pablo Cruz, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, is creating a genre distribution label, Tangente.

The launch of the genre division comes as Canana is eying extending its new VOD distribution operation, Canana on Demand, to Central America, Cruz said Sunday in Berlin, where Canana presents Berlinale Special “Revolucion,” an omnibus of shorts analyzing the impact of the Mexican Revolution in contempo Mexico.

Tangente’s first releases will be “The Horde,” Thai film-within-a-film “Coming Soon,” “Thirst,” wry Oz torture pic “The Loved Ones” and “Troubled Water.”

Tangente rolls off the runaway success of Thomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One In,” which Canana distributed.

The label will not ply simple shockfests, Cruz said.

Indeed, most of Tangente’s first five pickups saw major mainstream fest play: “The Horde,” a groundbreaking cult Gallic zombie film was produced by Jean Labadie’s upscale Paris shingle Le Pacte and seen in Venice Days; Norwegian Erik Poppe’s “Troubled Water,” a child murderer/grieving mother drama, won Hamptons’ main Golden Starfish competition. Helmed by South Korea’s Park Chan-wook, “Thirst” played Cannes official competition last year.

“The titles are not just pure horror. They have a little bit of something,” Cruz said.

Horror label is also a way of connecting with Mexico’s savviest techie demos as Canana pushes VOD service Canana on Demand.

Launched last July with Jonas Cuaron’s “The Year of the Nail,” Canana on Demand attempts to address a drastic lack of arthouses throughout Mexico. Many artpic titles either see no theatrical release in Mexico or play just a week in theaters.

“We’re really pushing VOD. It’s the future in terms of how people will consume the films we make and buy,” Cruz said. With Canana on Demand kicking in, Canana has hiked film buys for Mexico from 10 titles to 15 a year, he said.

Recent Mexican pickups include Michael Haneke’s Cannes 2009 Palme d’Or winner “The White Ribbon,” “Ajami,” Venice Golden Lion winner “Lebanon,” Andrea Arnold’s Cannes competish player “Fish Tank,” “Man on Wire” and German Detlev Buck’s “Same Same But Different.”

Another buy is “Sunshine Cleaning.” “We’re starting to work U.S. indie pics,” Cruz said.

VOD fuels DVD sales, he said. The Luna-directed “Chavez,” where Canana day-and-dated DVD and VOD, “was a huge success. People saw it on VOD, and then went out to buy the original,” Cruz said.

One of the temptations to pirate in Mexico is that DVDs aren’t available for months and months, he said.

Current VOD viewership on Canana-distribbed movies is about 40% below studio-released titles, he added.

Canana on Demand operates in Mexico through Televisa-owned Cablevision. Now Canana is studying rolling it out throughout Central America.

“This means extension rights on acquisitions to cover Central America and tying down accords with local telco/cable operators,” said Cruz.

Canana will meet operators in March. Central America “is a very small but growing market,” he said.

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