Latin American producers flock to mart
BUENOS AIRESThe 4th edition of Ventana Sur, which wrapped Monday in Buenos Aires, looks likely to be viewed as a milestone. Launched in 2009 as a screenings/sales market for Latin America movies, the event brought an unprecedented number of top-echelon international sales agents and distributors to the Argentine capital. It’s a sign of just how fast Latin America is growing that just three years later Ventana Sur has — as well being a top mart — also become a fully-fledged Latin American production meet. Its foreign, non-Latin American, presence — buyers and sales agents — held steady at 456, 2% up vs. 2011. If final participant numbers shot up 22% to 2,114, the big build was Argentina (up 16% to 1,045) and the rest of Latin America (up 52% to 445) as waves of young Latino producers flocked to Ventana Sur. Brazil had 151 attendees alone, Chile, which produced just 10 films in 2007, brought 131. Spain (108), France (78) and the U.S. (70) also punched high numbers, according to stats from Ventana Sur organizers, Cannes Market and Argentina’s Incaa Film Institute. Sales were still done, though at lower levels, at least while Ventana Sur unspooled, than in 2011. This year, a new breed of exports, crossover/mainstream Spanish-language fare, made much of the running. Sold by FilmSharks Intl. Argentine sex swinging comedy “2 + 2,” from Disney-backed Patagonik, closed Brazil (Paris Filmes) and Puerto Rico (Wiesner Distribution), with multiple U.S offers. “Widows,” a wife-mistress friendship dramedy, was licensed to Spain (Teyso Media Produccion) and Chile (Los Films de la Arcadia). Buenos Aires-based KAFilms sold “Diablo,” a dark action comedy, to Russia’s Maywin Films; Gabriel Nesci’s romcom, “Vinyl Days,” also from KAFilms, received multiple offers. 3C Films Group closed theatrical for Spain with Omnibus on “Accoralados.” Beyond doubt, Ventana Sur’s highlight was the enthusiastic received by the extended teaser and near completed sequences from the $20 million animation “Foosball.” Its director, Oscar winner Juan Jose Campanella (“The Secret in Their Eyes”), confirmed Saturday night that “Foosball” will bow in Argentina June 20. Of arthouse pics, sales agents were circling Primer Corte winner “The Amazing Cat Fish,” another Mexican title, “Workers,” which proved a standout in Ventana Sur’s highly popular VIP video library strand, and Alicia Scherson’s “The Future,” from Chile’s Jirafa Films, a Sundance title. Germany’s Cine Global bought Aura Films’ “Less Modern Times.” Three sales agents, two U.S.-based, told Variety they would make and had made offers on around three titles. Many sales and international pick-ups, broached and advanced at the mart, will however be announced in the run-up to Berlin. But Ventana Sur is no longer just a straight sales mart. Competition for top Latin American titles has spiked from even three years ago, forcing sales agents to fish far further upstream, initiating negotiations at screenplay stage. Many hot new titles driving talk at Ventana Sur — from Argentina alone, new films by Pablo Trapero, Santiago Mitre, Martin Mauregui and two new Daniel Burmans — often have yet to go into pre-production, sometimes even finish their writing. The big question for Latin American cinema is how to channel its build in production levels and state incentives into a more international industry. Headline news at Ventana Sur suggested some answers. IM Global and Mexico’s Canana announced Mundial, a powerful Mexico City-based sales-financing company for Latin American films. Argentina’s BD Cine and Brazil’s Total Filmes unveiled a film and TV production pact. More alliances look likely. “There’s an energy and enthusiasm in Latin America that is now rarer in Europe,” one Spanish producer said at Ventana Sur. Few who attended the 4th Ventana Sur, which ran Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, would disagree.