Rio Film Fest 2012

Mart plays off buoyant local film/TV scene

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, “Grey’s Anatomy” screenwriter William Harper and Kris Thykier, producer of Stephen Daldry’s “Trash,” will speak at the Rio Festival’s RioMarket, the biggest conference strand at any Latin American Festival.

Running from Sept. 27, though kicking fully in next week,

RioMarket features RioSeminars and workshops, keynotes and master classes, plus one-to-one meetings between sales agents and distributors.

“The RioMarket is not only a place to make money, but to talk about our future: How our companies need to change in the new world,” said Rio Fest co-director Walkiria Barbosa, who runs RioMarket.

“People are interested in new business opportunities as well,” she added.

Some Rio speakers are already creating that new world. Bowing streaming content services in Latin America in September 2011, Netflix, for example, has revolutionized the pay TV business there, spiking prices paid for premium feevee content, and cuming 1.6 million clients in the region by year-end 2012, per Media & Technology Digest estimates.

In a late market keynote, Sarandos will discuss the role Netflix has played as a catalyst for change in the entertainment industry, plus Netflix’s morphing into a premium TV channel.

Harper will host a TV screenwriting workshop, Thykier will talk about making “Trash,” produced by London’s Working Title and Fernando Meirelles’ o2 Filmes in Sao Paulo.

With further case study presentations of “Amazonia” and “Mama,” co-production is one major conference strand at RioMarket.

Little wonder. Per Paulo Sergio Almeida at Filme B, Brazilian state film/TV funding now stands at an annual R$ 850 million ($379.5 million).

English-language movies can qualify as Brazilian co-productions, Barbosa pointed out.

Many RioMarket workshops are eminently practical. Leading Argentine scribe-helmer Daniel Burman (“Lost Embrace”) will deliver a workshop on writing for film, marketing specialist John Durie, at Strategic Film Marketing, on selling films in the international market; Steve Solot’s Rio-based Latin American Training Center will host a two-day Film Production Gap Financing workshop.

Another RioMarket focus is on the impact of digitization, from copy preservation to exhibition, at a time when Latin America – at just over 50% digital screen penetration – lags behind much of the world in D-Cinema. All Brazilian theaters have to go digital by the end of 2014, Barbosa pointed out.

In one potential highlight, MIT Media Lab composer Tod Machover and production designer Alex McDowell (“Minority Report”) will team at a seminar, Entertainment Research and the Future of ‘Immersive Experience.’

In all, RioMarket panels turns around four sections: Business Opportunities with Television Networks, International Co-Production, Future Zone and the Brazilian Market.

30 15-21 year-olds will attend a RioMarket Jovem crash course in film and TV.

Among slightly older attendees, RioMarket will welcome a strong BFI-led 12-exec U.K. delegation,

The MPA, Arte France, Mexico’s Lemon Films, HanWay, The Match Factory, IM Global, Argentina’s FilmSharks, Discovery Networks, RealD 3D, Wide, Barco, France’s Biloba Films, Myriad Pictures, UPI and Voltage Pictures are all slated to have execs in town, sometimes toppers such as Voltage’s Nicolas Chartier.

Energized by new Brazilian regs, the so-called 2011 Law 12.485 obliging pay TV networks to buy local programming, TV production is booming in Brazil. Movie production isn’t that far behind.

Few emerging film markets have seen such sustained growth – in box office, TV acquisitions and a burgeoning local film industry. No other BRIC member is so accessible.

Goosed by a 47% spike in August, first eight-month Brazilian box office climbed 8% to 107.9 million ticket sales, per Filme B.

2012 total B.O. was already up 15.7% vs. 2011, marking the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth, driven by hiked ticket prices – still low, at $4.8 in 2012, but up 10% vs. 2011, a sign of Brazilians’ larger disposable income – and screen construction, up 7% to 2,512, per Brazil’s ANCINE film board.

Brazilian movies’ local market share stood at 19% through August, with its box office 200% up on same-period last year.

Per Almeida, its share could climb even higher in the future, marking Brazil as, in commercial terms, the most successful national film industry in Latin America.

RioMarket attendance should pass 1,000 participants this year, per RioMarket sources.

Top players are now looking to link ever more with foreign companies abroad: Another reason to roll into Rio.

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