Acquisitions up ante on digital distribution

MADRID — Pioneering digital distribution in Mexico, producer-distrib Canana has acquired Mexican rights to Wim Wenders’ 3D dance documentary “Pina” and Philippe Falardeau’s teacher drama “Monsieur Lazhar.”

Deals closed at last week’s Berlinale. Both pics contend for Academy Awards this Sunday.

“Pina” and Werner Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” bought at Toronto, are Canana’s first 3D arthouse acquisitions.

They come after the company — founded in 2005 by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz — appointed Julian Levin as CEO and Cristina Garza as head of distribution.

Canana launched VOD service Canana OnDemand in 2009 on Cablevision, Mexico City’s dominant cabler. It has day-and-date combos of theatrical, broadcast, DVD and VOD bows on movies, including “The Year of the Nail,” “Revolucion” and “Chavez.”

“Experimenting, taking risks has always been important to us,” said Cruz. “We were the first in Latin America to day-and-date theatrical releases and now the first to release arthouse films in 3D.”

Hitting Mexican theaters March 5, “Cave” is the “first of many digital releases,” Cruz added, saying Canana’s “working hard to expand” digital distribution.

Late last year, Netflix added Canana’s first original series, romantic comedy “I’m Your Fan,” to its library and it quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular skeins in Mexico.

Canana has added over 50 titles to Canana OnDemand. It received a grant at Berlin from EU program Media Mundus to digitally distribute European films in Mexico and now funds a Canana-Ambulante Digital Distribution Award for jury prize-winners at Mexico’s Morelia Festival.

James Young in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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