Latin American filmmakers are an emerging global force, riding on a wave of genre films. So much so that Latin America’s biggest movie market, Ventana Sur, which means Southern Window, has launched Blood Window, a slice of the mart dedicated to horror.
More widely available digital distribution systems, whether set-top boxes or game consoles or even mobile phones streaming content, have created a demand for youth-skewing genre pics in Europe, Asia and especially the United States.
“Ironically, it’s easier to find interest abroad when producing genre films than here in Argentina,” says scribe-helmer Ramiro Garcia Bogliano.
Javier Fernandez at Buenos Aires’ Incaa, which co-organizes Ventana Sur with the Cannes Festival’s Film Market, likens the rise in Latin American genre to what happened in South Korea a little more than a decade ago, and more recently Spain.
Some highlights of the surge:
- Argentina’s Andy Muschietti (“Mama”) and Uruguay’s Fede Alvarez (“Evil Dead”) topped U.S. charts with genre fare; “Mama” and “Dead” were first features.
- Eli Roth, Chile’s Nicolas Lopez and Christopher Woodrow’s Worldview Entertainment are re-teaming to produce the Lopez-helmed “Beyond the Green Inferno,” the third film from the Roth-Lopez Chilewood hub, after “Aftershock” and “The Green Inferno.”
- Participant Media is financing haunted-house chiller “Out of the Dark,” co-produced by Colombia’s Dynamo, and Argentine Pablo Fendrik’s Amazon Western “El Ardor,” from Argentina’s Magma Cine, Mexico’s Canana, Brazil’s Bananeira Films and France’s Manny Films.
- Mexico/Los Angeles-based Lemon Films plans three genre-movies: Rigoberto Castaneda’s “KM 31: Part II,” which Pantelion distribs Stateside, and two English/Spanish-language movies with U.S. casts, helmed by Castaneda and Fernando Rovzar.
- Chilean producers Igal Weitzman and Barnard Steele have created Eagle Eye Pictures, an investment fund for genre movies.
- Argentina’s Nomad VFX is prepping two English-language $20 million fantasy epics: Sword and sorcery actioner “Underland, the Last Surfacer,” and sci-fi adventure “Remora.”
- Colombia’s 64A Films and Hollywood’s Green Dog Films are co-producing “Madremonte Project,” a five-picture horror slate.
So why the genre fixation? Helmer Alvarez puts it down to the huge technological leap of the past decade. Digital cameras and cheap post-production software allowed filmmakers yearning to shoot films without any government financing.
Arthouse films “depicting our culture … was the ‘mainstream’ standard: The government was, in a way, the studio dictating what to do,” Alvarez says. “Now those new filmmakers are emerging big time.”
It’s also telling that 25 projects were submitted to BWIP, Blood Window’s pics-in-post competition, vs. 116 submissions for Primer Corte, Ventana Sur’s mainstream rough-cut showcase, says Ventana Sur co-director Bernardo Bergeret.
Sales agents already cite Blood Window as a lure to make the trip to Ventana Sur, which draws about 345 participants from outside Latin America, says Jerome Paillard, the Cannes Film Market’s topper and Ventana Sur co-director.
But are Latin American genre pics a real business or just a blip?
“Genre travels in any language,” Lopez says. “In English, it’s always better, of course.”
“Juan of the Dead,” a Cuban zombie comedy, closed 40-plus territories; Dynamo’s “La cara oculta,” sold by Fox Intl. Productions (FIP) and Elle Driver, saw strong B.O. in both Colombia and Spain; Uruguayan slasher “The Silent House” and Mexican cannibal family drama “We Are What We Are” have both received U.S. remakes.
Even by U.S. genre standards, Latin American filmmakers get more bang for their buck. “Aftershock” cost a reported $2 million; Jorge Olguin’s “Whispers in the Forest,” Chile’s first 3D pic, was made for $500,000.
“Latin America now has strong film funding, a developed industry and Spanish producers shooting genre movies there,” says Gael Nouaille at France’s Full House.
And while local film funds — such as Brazil’s Fundo Setorial do Audiovisual, which this year controls $16 million — will indeed ensure arthouse’s future, Latin American directors are churning out art pics and thrillers, nabbing fest prizes and strong sales.
In that sense, genre may be opening doors, not closing others.
WHAT: Ventana Sur
WHEN: Dec. 3-6
WHERE: Buenos Aires
(Anna Marie de la Fuente contributed to this report.)