San Sebastian Forum Boosts Attendance 20%

Project, participant hike rolls off robust Latin American drive into international co-production

BUENOS AIRES –In another demonstration of the lure of the Latin American film industry, and its drive into co-production – a phenomenon also galvanizing attendance at Ventana Sur – participants at the San Sebastian’s 3rd Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum rose 20% vs. 2013 and 59% vs. 2012 to 686 participants.

Projects presented from 104 in 2012, a high initial number, to 181 this year.

Such robust hikes are common in start-up events, but only if they catch fire with their industrial constituencies, as has happened with San Sebastian’s Forum, many of whose attendees and now regrouping at Ventana Sur.

“The statistics suggest the Forum does indeed have a relevant place on the map of international co-production markets,” said Jose Luis Rebordinos, San Sebastian Fest director.

One key, he suggested, was not only the companies presenting projects but those at San Sebastian taking meetings to discuss them. Among these numbers were Wild Bunch, the Berlin Festival, Argentina’s Disney co-backed Patagonik Film Group, France’s Noodle Productions, Cine Colombia, Mexico’s Mantarraya Producciones, Argentina’s K&S Films, the Council of Europe’ s Eurimages, Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation, New York’s Visit Films and Spain’s Tornasol Films.

Directors with projects pitched at the Forum since 2012 take in both established name auteurs with three or four features under the belt – Argentina’s Anahi Berneri, Colombia’s Carlos Moreno and Ecuador’s Sebastian Cordero –and some of Latin America’s production pacemakers – Mexico’s Canana and Colombia’s Dynamo, both members of Participant PanAmerica, Patagonik, Rizoma and Historias Cinematograficas in Argentina, but also new directors with maybe just one feature made and startup outfits. That has always been San Sebastian’s game-plan.

Budgets of projects has varied – from €3.2 million ($4.0 million) to €100,000 ($124,000) – and have the kind of projects selected for pitching, Rebordinos said, taking in art pics and genre offerings.

Most Forum projects have come from Latin America. That can be explained several ways. As Spanish film state aid has has been cut back, this century Latin American incentive systems have grown exponentially. In July, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff announced a federal film-TV  funding package for 2014 worth $480 million.

Coming or returning late to the table, Latin American governments have been able to learn from the mistakes of more established film powers in Europe: Many stare agencies – the studios of Latin America – have set aside coin for not only production but distribution and part bankroll producers’ attendance at key international events

And, as Rebordinos observes, the Forum has also accessed projects from emerging film powers in Latin America: Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Puerto Rico, among others.

Over 50% of the projects presented in 2012 and 2013 have been made, or will do so in 2014 or first-half 2015.

Launched 2012, the Forum runs parallel to pix-in-post showcase Films in Progress from last year, in what have become three intense “industry days” at San Sebastian. It is now part of an development roadmap for Latin American movie development which also takes in Ventana Sur and Cannes, plus burgeoning regional or national markets in Latin America. Also, the Forum has also aided San Sebastian to create its own industrial eco-system: Pitched at the 2012 Forum, Berneri’s “Open Air” played San Sebastian’s Competition in 2014. Two other Forum projects, Ana Katz’s “My Park Friend” and Brazilian Aly Muritiba’s “Para minha amada morta,” screened in Films in Progress this year.

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