Fest Traveler: Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival

The 37th Huelva Ibero-American film festival underscores the ever-wider breadth of upscale Latin American pics.

Best known historically for art and social-issues movies, Latin American films on display at the fest now boast “quality, range, international relevance,” says Huelva director Eduardo Trias.

“Films are increasingly diverse in genres and styles,” says Chilean producer Juan de Dios Larrain, whose label Fabula produced Sebastian Lelio’s “The Year of the Tiger,” a Huelva official section player.

“Tiger” combines documentary and fiction, “a mix that Latin America has successfully re-invented,” Larrain says.

Directors mesh artistic ambitions with more mainstream appeal.

Carlos Moreno’s “All Your Dead Ones,” takes an ironic look toward armed conflict in Colombia. “But the idea was to build a story based on different narrative codes: a thriller, black comedy and a highly acid political critique,” says producer Diego Ramirez.

The exponential growth of some Ibero-American film territories — think Brazil — allows local filmmakers to take on more ambitious film projects, aimed at the domestic market but with export potential.

Beto Brant and Renato Ciasca’s “I’d Receive the Worst News From Your Beautiful Lips” sets a love story in the context of Amazonian deforestation, a subject very close to the Brazilian audiences.

However, “the film’s poetry and contemporary issues can connect with everyone in the world,” helmer-producer Ciasca argues.

Gabriel Rojas Vera’s portrait of a woman remaking her life after separation, “Karen Cries on the Bus,” sold by Berlin-based M-Appeal, underscores the ever-growing universality of Latin American filmmaking.”Its strong female character speaks a universal language,” says M-Appeal CEO Maren Kroymann.

Sometimes, helmers’ international ambitions are a necessity, given the small size of local markets, such as Chile, whose Andres Wood has “Violeta” at Huelva. Sales consortium Latido sold Wood’s 2004 coming-of-age story “Machuca” to multiple territories.

Remakes also prime international returns: Venezuelan B.O. sensation, Diego Velasco’s thriller “The Zero Hour,” has been acquired by RCR Pictures for a U.S. film redo.

“There is a Latin American cinema with local flavor but whose rhythm and scope come from Hollywood,” says Sergio Aguero, “Hour” exec-producer, also attached to the U.S. redo.

The Huelva fest combines debut features from a well of first-time directors — Velasco, Rojas Vera — with established filmmakers: including Wood and classic Argentinean auteur Carlos Sorin, who presents thriller “The Cat Vanishes.”

“Latin American cinema has attained a worldwide importance, replacing Asian film,” concludes Wanda Films CEO Jose Maria Morales, “Cat” Spanish distrib.

HIGHLIGHTS

COMPETITION STANDOUTS

• Diego Velasco’s heist movie “The Zero Hour,” set in Caracas during a hospital strike, is Venezuela’s highest-earning local film of all time, despite limited P&A spend.

• Steamy sex drama “I’d Receive the Worst News from Your Beautiful Lips,” proved a buzz title at October’s Rio Fest.

• Colombia’s Carlos Moreno, whose thriller “Dog Eat Dog” won a 2008 Huelva Silver Colombus, returns to Huelva with Sundance cinematography winner, “All Your Dead Ones.”

• “Violeta,” Andres Wood’s biopic of iconic Chilean artist Violeta Parra, is Chile’s Oscar foreign-language entry.

HONORS

• Life achievement City of Huelva Awards will go to vet Spanish producer Julio Fernandez, Filmax Ent. chairman, a pioneering co-producer of Latin American genre pics through a production alliance with Mexico’s Lemon Films (“Km 31″) and of animated movies, such as the two “Hairy Tooth Fairy” pics, teaming with Argentina’s Patagonik.

• Fest celebrates the Spanish Academy’s 25th anni and its ever-greater proximity to Ibero-America.

INDUSTRY CONFAB

• Running Nov. 24-26, the 12th Co-Production Forum will have a special Colombian film flavor, thanks to Focus Colombia showcase, an initiative by Colombian film agency Proimagenes.

RESOURCES
Colombia in focus at forum

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