TV, film thrive in Argentina's second city

Buenos Aires–Cordoba, Argentina’s second city, is living a film and TV revolution.

Next October, first-time director-screenwriter Ines Maria Barrionuevo will helm “Atlantida,” in which two teen sisters, over the course of one hot day, flash-storm included, discover and define their sensuality.

In film terms, Cordoba, in Argentina’s far north, is also coming of age.

“Atlantida” is set up Cordoba’s Oruga Films, run by Paola Suarez. It marks Oruga’s second feature. No Cordoba production house has ever made two features; Cordoba now has its first production slate.

The drivers for Cordoba’s film awakening, as in Europe, are double-fold: a new regulatory framework; and TV deregulation.

Starting 2008, Cordoba’s regional authorities have awarded 2 million pesos ($500,000) a year in no-interest credit. This supplies bridging loans to productions pulling down subsidies from Argentina’s Incaa national film board. The facility is capped at $125,000 per pic.

Three films, all finished, are now seeing the light of day: Rodrigo Guerrero’s “The Winter of the Odd Ones Out,” Rosendo Ruiz’s “Clubbing,” and the Oruga-produced and 1935-set “Hipolito,” about a young lawyer’s battle against political corruption. Teodoro Ciampagna directs.

“Atlantida” is on track to pull down an-around $300,000 Incaa subsidy, after winning a first prize Raymundo Gleyzer development award from Incaa.

As Digital Terrestial Television spreads across Argentina, Cordoba will most likely receive one or several DTT regional TV channel licenses.

On Friday, announced nine awards of $292,000 each to TV series co-produced by pubcasters but destined for digital TV broadcast. Teaming with Cordoba’s Canal 10, Oruga won one, for a 13-seg fiction series unspooling at Cordoba’s majestic Eden Hotel.

Since the ’80s, much of Europe’s film growth has been by powered by regional film financing, starting with the German lander and Britain, then Spain, more lately Italy.

Now it looks like Latin America’s turn.

Production is building excitingly in Brazil’s Minas Gerais and Recife, said FiGa’s Sandro Fiorin.

Cordoba movie credit facilities could now near double, said Suarez.

In a first phase, loans look likely to target films made “from and in Cordoba,” rather than international shoots, she added.

Films made from Cordoba “have their own sensibility,” Suarez claimed.

Many seem broad allegories for Cordoba’s film and TV surge. In “Winter,” six small-town inhabitants begin to break with routine. The atmospheric “Atlantida” chronicles an awakening. “Clubbing” turns on a young photographer discovering his artistic vocation. Co-scripted by Barrionuevo, Oruga’s is developing sitcom “Cordoba Casting” for Canal 10,about a struggling casting agency which decides to make its own film in-house.

Much Cordoban production is humor-laced, said Barrionuevo.

All is set in Cordoba.

But, as over Latin America, the Cordoba film industry looks set to reach out into co-production. Suarez is at Ventana Sur to court a Brazilian co-producer to help cover roughly $100,000 gap finance on “Atlantida.” The first love of the big sister’s life is played by the huge-eyed Ailin Salas who is half-Brazilian, and was memorable in Lucia Puenzo’s “The Fish Child” and Pablo Fendrik’s “Blood Appears,”

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