Attendance, distrib deals up at Latin American market

An intense 3rd Ventana Sur proved a metaphor for Latin America’s film biz at large.

Wrapping Monday night, the Latin American mart saw extraordinary attendance hikes, unthinkable in more mature markets.

Opening Friday, Ventana Sur participants soared 42% over last year to 1,740. Latin American attendees from outside Argentina leapt 54% to 405, driven by reps from Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

In kudos, Uruguayan Guillermo Rocamora’s mid-life crisis drama “Solo” took the Haciendo Cine post-production prize at Ventana Sur’s main industry draw, Primer Corte, a showcase for films in post-production.

Set on Colombia’s war-ravaged high plains, Juan Carlos Melo’s coming-of-ager, “Field of Amapolas,” won its Copia 0 award.

By end-of-play Monday, sales agents were circling multiple titles, notably Argentine Benjamin Avila’s dirty war childhood drama, “Infancia clandestina,” heartily applauded in rough-cut at a private screening.

“See You, Dad,” from Mexico’s Lucia Carreras, Chilean Alvaro Viguera’s “Perez,” Andres Wood’s “Violeta Went to Heaven” and Brazilian Luciano Moura’s “Father’s Chair” — Sundance-bound like “Violeta” — also drew sales agent interest.

Foreign distributors made the running at the mart.

Deals sealed or closing, up in number on 2010, show markets in rapid transition.

Russia is buying more mainstream titles: FilmSharks sold “Saving Private Perez” to Maywin and “All Inclusive” and “A Boyfriend for My Wife” to Dalmation.

Seeking local content and highly competitive, Latin American pay TV operators wield ever-greater clout.

Ernesto Munoz de Cote, at Atlanta-based Lap TV, said he’d end up buying around 10 titles.

In one indicative deal, L.A.-based FiGa shipped five titles to Silvia Cruz’s Vitrine Filmes. Films will play six Brazilian cities for a week, segueing to cable, said FiGa’s Sandro Fiorin.

According to Udi’s Eric Schnedecker, a pan-Latin America paybox deal is now worth the same as a sale to France.

Ventana Sur sales centered on accessible art or genre pics: “My First Wedding,” a Seventh Art Releasing North America pick-up; “Juan of the Dead,” closing a U.S. sale; while M-Appeal’s “Hermano,” Rezo’s “Bonsai” and Udi’s “Las Acacias” all locked four-to-five territory sales.

Many more deals will go down off Ventana Sur. But smaller or darker Latin American movies increasingly need alternative means of distribution, even in the region itself.

A pan-Latin America specialty pic VOD service looks only a matter of time.

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