Latin American mart screens 124 pics, 70 preems

BUENOS AIRES — Fernando Spiner’s “Aballay,” Carlos Sorin’s “The Cat Vanishes” and Andres Wood’s “Violeta Went to Heaven” will play in Ventana Sur’s screenings lineup.

The 3rd Ventana Sur, a dedicated Latin American film market organized by Cannes Marche du Film and Argentina’s Incaa Film Institute, kicks off Friday in Buenos Aires, running through Dec. 5.

Its main challenge is simply to maintain momentum: Sales agents picked up at least 15 titles last year. This edition’s defining trait looks like a roster of initiatives aimed at goosing distribution of movies from Latin America, not only overseas but also throughout the region.

A gaucho Western and vengeance tale of stark emotions and even starker Tucuman scrub-desert landscapes, “Aballay” is also Argentina’s foreign-language Oscar entry. Madrid-based KWA handles international rights.

First seen at Toronto, and sold by Bavaria Films Intl., “Cat’s” teasing psychological drama of marital mistrust marks a change of direction for vet Argentinean helmer Carlos Sorin (“Minimal Stories”).

Another Oscar candidate, this time for Chile, Wood’s “Heaven” has drawn upbeat reviews as an inventive portrait of intense Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra.

Dominican Leticia Tonos’ “Love Child,” a father-daughter drama, Gonzalo Justiniano’s “Has Any One Seen Lupita?,” an off-beat coming-of-age road movie, and Hernan Belon’s “El campo,” admired at Venice, have also joined the lineup.

A clutch of higher profile titles — such as “Xingu,” from Brazil’s Cao Hamburger (“The Day My Parents Went on Vacation”), and Vinicius Coimbra’s Rio fest multi-laureate “Matraga” — hit Ventana Sur sans sales agent. Benjamin Avila’s “Clandestine Childhood,” which made a splash at San Sebastian’s Films in Progress, will be shown in final cut at a private screening.

In eve of the market announcements, Madrid’s Urban Films has taken international sales rights to the voluminous catalog of Chile’s Gitano Films.

France’s Pyramide Intl. is bringing onto the market “Wakolda,” an unsettling psychological thriller-drama from Argentina’s Lucia Puenzo (“XXY”).

But Ventana Sur isn’t leaving commerce to market forces alone.

“I don’t think Latin America’s totally closed to films from the rest of the region,” said VS co-director Jerome Paillard. There could, however, be “a vicious circle,” where “audiences aren’t trained to see Latin American films, so distributors aren’t motivated to support them.”

To combat this, Ventana Sur bows a new strand, Festivals in Focus, and Primer Corte has a novel Copia 0 prize.

Round tables on the Mercosur market, crowd-funding, producing without Europe, regional funding and digital TV take place at Argentina’s Catholic University (UCA), 150 yards down the road from Ventana Sur’s Cinemark Puerto de Madero eight-plex.

CNC prexy Eric Garandeau presents Thursday France’s new-look World Cinemas Aid fund.

Brazil’s Ancine film board and the Galician Audiovisual Consortium are offering new grants for co-productions.

Promotion board Cinema Chile will set forth proposals to reactivate film and TV in Latin America; Variety itself will host a panel, Latin America: Up Next, a showcase for on-the-rise talent.

One challenge going forward, said Liliana Mazure, Incaa prexy, is to “increase Latin American films participation in the international market.”

That could mean, among many other things, making a larger number of bigger productions.

A clutch of titles, which rep step-ups in scale for their directors, will be announced at or just after Ventana Sur.

Growth for Latin America’s industry is no slam dunk, however. But it currently looks unrelenting.

Yes indie distributors still need as much aid as they can get.

Goosing their audience interest, a European Film Week, programmed and presented by Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux, unspools Nov. 29- Dec. 6 in Buenos Aires.

All titles have Argentine distribution. But they still require pizzazz in their promotion. On Thursday, Fremaux will present “Melancholia.” Brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne will talk about their “A Kid With the Bike” Wednesday night.

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