Latin America plunges into genre

BUENOS AIRES — Uruguay’s Pablo Stoll, a darling of the art-pic crowd since 2001′s Rotterdam Tiger-winning “25 Watts,” is prepping a zombie movie, “The Summer Hit.”

The move will shock some Stoll loyalists, which is exactly what he wants.

For decades, beyond local comedies, Latin America has largely turned out small social-issue art-house pics, lamenting its suffering. It’s what the world’s come to expect.

But a new generation of Latin American filmmakers is questioning this approach. If one trend was evident this weekend among a wash of projects brought to Ventana Sur by hundreds of producers from Latin America and beyond, it’s a surge in genre.

Given Stoll’s cache — his second movie, 2004′s “Whisky,” like “25 Watts” co-helmed by Juan Pablo Rebella, won Cannes Un Certain Regard Fipresci award — few Latin American projects are higher-profile than Stoll’s “The Summer Hit.”

Set at a Uruguay beach resort, the film turns on Santi, who meets the girl of his dreams. But a teen romantic comedy morphs into a thriller, then zombie pic, Stoll said at Ventana Sur.

Stoll is completing a first draft. He will then work with Gonzalo Delgado, his co-scribe on “Whisky” and “Watts.”

“Summer Hit” is set up at Temperamento Films, Stoll’s new production shingle after the dissolution of Control Z, and Florencia Larrea’s Kine-Imagenes in Chile, which co-produced Stoll’s “3,” which played Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

The teen cast will be multinational, given that Brazilians, Argentineans and Chileans also summer in Uruguay.

Stoll and Larrea aim to structure “Summer Hit” as a Latin American co-production.

“With the crisis, European-Latin American co-production models are breaking up,” Larrea said.

In contrast, Latin American film finance has grown, Stoll added, saying he wanted to create a regional Latin American genre film.

“Our brochure says Latin America has the right to see its own zombies,” Stoll said.

“In Latin America, some people these days are asking not what film they should make, but what film they want to make. That’s an important change.”

“It’s illogical to argue that people who make one kind of film can only make that kind of film,” he added.

A bevy of top Latin American producers — Brazil’s Bananeira Filmes and Dezenove, Chile’s Forastero and Colombia’s Dynamo — are all moving genre pics at Ventana Sur.

“Bomb,” produced by Lucia Puenzo at Historias Cinematograficas, was one of the better-received Primer Corte pix in post titles.

“The number of Latin American genre films is increasing,” Sergio Sa Leitao, CEO of investment fund Rio Filme, said at Ventana Sur.

“In Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, local comedies now probably perform as well if not better than U.S. comedies. Now in Brazil, producers are aiming to compete with horror films as well.”

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