Production alliance links Participant Media, Canana, Dynamo, Fabula
BERLIN — In a milestone move for Latin American film production, Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media is partnering with three of the region top-flight players — Mexico’s Canana Films, Colombia’s Dynamo and Chile’s Fabula — to create film fund Participant PanAmerica.Unveiled Thursday, Participant PanAmerica will over the next five years develop and co-finance 10-12 Spanish-language films for and from Latin America with Fabula, Dynamo and Canana. Jonathan King, Participant Media exec veepee of narrative production, will lead Participant PanAmerica. The five-year joint-production initiative already builds on successful relationships between Participant Media and all three companies. Participant recently co-financed both Canana’s “Chavez,” Diego Luna’s portrait of U.S. civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, and Fabula’s Gael Garcia Bernal-starrer “No,” helmed by Fabula partner Pablo Larrain, sold to 40-plus countries by Funny Balloons, and a foreign-language Academy Award nominee. Participant Media is in discussions with Dynamo to finance Lluis Quilez’s supernatural thriller “Aguas rojas,” co-produced by Spain’s Apaches Ent. (“The Impossible”). “Participant PanAmerica enables us to increase our film output and expand our reach into the dynamic and fast-growing Spanish-speaking market,” said Jim Berk, Participant Media CEO. Via Canana, Fabula and Dynamo, Participant PanAmerica will now “have access to the region’s talent pool of fresh and highly creative filmmakers who are looking to explore important contemporary issues in exciting ways,” he added. Berk said that Participant Media will be the primary financier of Participant PanAmerica and the films produced through it. Canana, Fabula and Dynamo will lead-produce specific projects co-financed by Participant PanAmerica, co-producing between each other as appropriate. The alliance will allow partners on a film-by-film basis to tap into rich resources, such as Mexico’s Article 226 tax finance and Colombia’s up-to-40% production tax breaks. Participant will handle U.S. distribution on a title-by-title basis, Berk said. In some circumstances, such as negotiations for the fast-growing pan-Latin American pay TV market, Participant PanAmerica multi-title slate will give it the volume to negotiate multi-country deals beneficial to all partners, Berk explained. Founded by Skoll in 2004, to create movies, TV, publishing and digital content focusing on issues that shape the world, Participant Media has two films screening in Berlin: Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land,” written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and docu-feature “State 194,” featuring Palestine’s prime minister Salam Fayyad.