Living,’ ‘Instructions,’ ‘Gloria’ Up Platino Awards

Ambitious Platino Ibero-American Film Awards unveil longlists, emcees, statuette

MADRID – David Trueba’s Spanish Goya winner “Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed,” Eugenio Derbez’s U.S./Mexican B.O. smash hit “Instructions Not Included” and Chilean Sebastian Lelio’s Berlin actress winner “Gloria” figure among 47 Best Picture entries at the 1st Platino Ibero-American Film Awards.

A bold attempt to create kudos of Oscar or Latin Grammy impact for now closer-knit movie industries in Latin America, Spain and Portugal, the Platino Awards will unspool April 5 at the Teatro Anayansi in Panama City, with a gala awards ceremony, then spectacular party.

Spain’s EGEDA producers’ rights collection society is teaming with FIPCA, the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers, to organize the Platinos. They enjoy the backing of national Academies and film funding boards.

Guadalajara Fest director Ivan Trujillo, Spanish composer Lucas Vidal (“Fast & Furious 6”) and Berlinale Panorama program manager Paz Lazaro will figure among seven jury members.

Hollywood-based Juan Carlos Arciniegas, the Colombian presenter of CNN en Espanol’s Showbiz news seg, will co-emcee the Platinos, along with Mexican singer-actress Alessandro Rosaldo who made her big-screen debut in “Instructions,” playing the devious ex-wife’s equally devious lawyer.

In a sweep which underscores the recent range of Latin American film-making, further long-list best pic entries include Alicia Scherson’s Sundance player “The Future,” a reflection on femme empowerment in a man’s world, Cannes 2013’s best director and Un Certain Talent winners – both Mexican: Amat Escalante’s “Heli” and Diego Quemada-Diez’s merciless immigration drama “La jaula de oro” – and Dominga Sotomayor’s understated family drama “Thursday Till Sunday,” which scooped a Rotterdam Tiger.

Running an equally ample gamut of styles, the Platino submissions takes in high art in the neo-noir “The Last Time I Saw Macao,” from Portugal’s Joao Rui Guerra, to the oddball comedy of “All About the Feathers,” from Costa Rica’s Neto Villalobos, Andres Baiz’s Colombian political drama “Roa,” “So Much Water,” an intimate family tale from Uruguay’s Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, Ricardo Darin-starring crime thriller “Thesis on a Homicide,” from Argentina’s Hernan Goldfrid, and a rumbustious, f/x-pumped horror comedy, “Witching & Bitching,” courtesy of Spain’s Alex de la Iglesia.

The Best Picture long-list cut also includes eight 2014 Foreign-Language Oscar submissions. The best-known: Lucia Puenzo’s multi-prized “The German Doctor” (Argentina), a portrait of evil, chronicling an unrepentant Josef Mengele’s sojourn in Patagonia; Kleber Mendonca Filho’s Rio Fest topper, “Neighboring Sounds” (Brazil), announcing a major new art pic talent; “Heli” (Mexico), a no-holds-held portrait of drug cartel violence impinging one family; and late 50s divorcee portrait “Gloria”(Chile), which won actress Paulina Garcia a Berlin Silver Bear.

Lesser-known Oscar entries from smaller countries might deliver surprises, if there are any, when Platino nominations are announced March 10 in Mexico City.

Among them, Javier Andrade’s rights-of-passage drama “The Porcelain Horse” (Ecuador), about two brothers’ freebase-fuelled downward spiral, was a home-turf hit; from Venezuela, Luis and Andres Rodriguez’s “Breach in the Silence” features a star turn by Vanessa Di Quattro as a suffering deaf 19-year-old; from the Dominican Republic, Ronni Castillo’s “Who’s the Boss?” is a womanizer-meets man-eater romcom, Peruvian Adrian Saba’s “The Cleaner” a slightly futuristic post-plague relationship drama between a loner and an orphaned boy.

With national selectors seeking to spread candidatures, Uruguay’s Oscar submission “Anina,” a winsome coming-of-age tale, and two other frontrunners in the Platinos’ animated feature category – Juan Jose Campanella’s Argentine table-soccer fantasy “Foosball” and Brazilian history snap-shot “Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury,” from Luiz Bolognesi  – didn’t make the best pic cut.

Covering eight categories – picture, direction, screenplay, original score, actor, actress, animated feature and documentary, the Platino nominations will be five for picture, actor and actress, three for remaining categories.

What exactly the Platinos aim to achieve is another matter.

Their ambition is not in doubt. The Platino gala’s brevity – just one-hour forty minutes – and limited number of categories mark it apart from the Oscars, Platino Prizes general manager Miguel Angel Benzal said at a Friday presentation of the Platino Awards in Madrid.

Designed by Javier Mariscal, who co-directed the Oscar-nommed animated feature “Chico and Rita,” the art-deco-style Platino statuette, a female figure offering up a globe with Latin America right and center, has a sexiness which most pundits fail to detect in the weighty Oscar trophy.

Yet, introducing the Awards, EGEDA president and Platino Awards exec prexy Enrique Cerezo recalled the Louis B. Meyer-organized dinner at the Ambassador Hotel in 1927, which sparked the creation of Hollywood’s AMPAS. Then – only slightly tongue-in-cheek – he recalled a 2013 meet at the InterContinental Medellin that marked the creation of the Platino Awards, unveiled last November in Colombia (picture).

Ibero-American national film industries released 701 features over 2013. Apart from its smallest territories, it is now distribution and sales, not production levels that mark their biggest challenges, FIPCA VP Ignacio Rey observed in Madrid.

Latin America has already produced multiple answers: the Ventana Sur Latin American film mart, a joint venture of the Cannes Film Market and Argentina’s INCAA Film Institute, which has galvanized international sales on Latin American movies; film agency Cinema do Brasil’s grants to sales agents and distributors who handle Brazilian films.

In the ultimate analysis, it is deep market forces that drive commercial change, such as pan-Latin American pay TV players – HBO Latin America, Moviecity, now the Sundance Channel – paying top dollar for Latin American movies to add exclusive original content to their skeds, a move which is driving the pan-regional circulation of Latin American films.

If working in the same direction as market forces, public intervention can, however, accelerate change.

High up among the Platinos’ large ambitions is the creation of a Latin American star system. Ibero-American celebs, such as they are, usually emerge via actors’ excelling in  important roles in breakout Spanish or Latin American movies – think Ricardo Darin, Penelope Cruz – or Hollywood hits: Antonio Banderas.

The presence of such high-profile figures as Rosaldo, a Televisa novela star and real-life wife of Eugenio Derbez, are vital as the Platino Awards seek to tie down the TV contracts essential for a show whose international success will be driven in part by star presence, media coverage and TV eyeballs.

So far, Panama’s Telemetro, owned by local conglom Medcom Corporacion, and pubcaster TVE’s overseas satellite feed, TVE Internacional, have signed up to transmit the Platinos; Platino organizers are also in talks with Televisa and Univision, said Benzal.

Traditionally driven by local blockbusters and social-issue fest faves, Latin America’s film industries aren’t exactly associated with glam wham. Spain’s Goya Awards are best known – for good or bad – for sectoral or political protest, channeling the concerns of an oft-crisis-racked industry and popular discontent.

But stars are vital for co-production and Ibero-American co-productions are increasing, and they are highly important for some countries, such as Spain, as ICAA Spanish Film Institute director Susana de la Sierra underscored Friday.

Aiming to ante up Ibero red carpet glitz, the Platinos mark a bold new play by one of the world’s fastest-growing regional industries.

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