Mar del Plata: FiGa Rolls Out ‘The Apostate,’ Latin American Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

Alvaro Ogalla in The Apostate -
Courtesy of Federico Veiroj

Miami-based arthouse specialist closes deals on multiple Latin American fest winners

MAR DEL PLATA: FiGa Films, one of Latin America’s main arthouse sales drivers, has kicked off sales on Federico Veiroj’s Madrid-set comedic drama “The Apostate,” which won a Special Jury Mention playing main competition at September’s San Sebastian Festival.

World premiering at Toronto, now playing Argentina’s Mar del Plata Fest, “The Apostate,” a belated coming of age dramedy, has been acquired by Paname Distribution for France, still the world’s most resilient arthouse market.

Vieroj’s third feature rolls off strong word of mouth after winning March’s Miami Fest Encuentros, a pix in post competition curated by Toronto programmer Diana Sanchez. A new boutique distribution house launched by former MK2 distribution head Laurence Gachet, Paname buys a highly select number of films every year.

The tale of an eternal university student who battles the legacy of a conservative upbringing – hence his obdurate insistence on being struck of the register of Catholic church members – “The Apostate,” FiGa’s second feature with Uruguayan-Spanish director Veiroj after the delicious “A Useful Life,” has also closed Brazil with Priscila Miranda Tucuman Distribuidora de Filmes, a highly active distributor of European, Brazilian and Latin American art films which also bought FiGa Films-sold “Sand Dollars.” Manuel Garcia’s Tren, a select buyer of U.S indie and European, Latin American and Asian fiction, docu and animation fare, is distributing in Argentina.

Starring and co-written by Alvaro Ogalla, seeped in Spanish culture – most especially the novels of Benito Perez Galdos, Spain’s Emile Zola – and a loving homage to the crannies of older world culture in Madrid which have survived the ravages of a modern consumer age, “The Apostate” has also closed Central America with Santo Domingo-based Palmera Pictures, one of the leading distribution companies for the region.

Offers for “The Apostate” are on the table from North America, Mexico, Poland, Benelux and Austria, said Sandro Fiorin, who heads up Figa Films with Alex Garcia. Receiving critical plaudits, such as a prize for best film at San Sebastian from the Intl. Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), “The Apostate” has opened in Spain and Uruguay.

Leveraging film festival reviews and buzz, and not only taking on board but selling, sometimes very well indeed – think Venezuala’s “Bad Hair,” which went on to win San Sebastian’s Golden Seashell and proved one of FiGa Films’ best-selling titles ever – movies which other companies would think too difficult to break into international markets, FiGa Films has also seen sales and fest success, often their harbinger, across a wide slate of Latin American titles:

*Given a high score by Mostra de Sao Paulo audiences, “Road to La Paz,” which also plays Mar del Plata, consequently closed a Brazil distribution deal with Lume Filmes. Filmarti acquired rights to Turkey after movie’s Busan world premiere.

*World premiering at Tribeca in World Narrative Competition, where it received some rave reviews, Paz Fabregas’ “Viaje” will be distributed in Spain by Mosaico, which previously bought the FiGa Films sold “Autumn Winds,” from Brazil’s Gabriel Mascaro.

*Barcelona-based Noucinemart has just acquired relationship drama-thriller “The Fire,” from Argentina’s Juan Schnitman, a co-scribe with Santiago Mitre on “El Amor (Primera Parte),” which will be released in Brazil by Tucuman.

*FiGa scored heavily at October’s Rio Fest: A drama set on the flipside of the Brazilian dream of soccer as a get-out-of-poverty card, Ivan Rosenfeld’s “Hopefuls” shared director and won actor (Ariclenes Barroso) and supporting actress (Julia Bernat) ex-aequeo; Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon- scooped with “Seashore,” also sold by FiGa, both Rio’s New Trends best film award and a Special Jury Prize at its Felix Awards. “Seashore” debuted in Brazil Nov. 5 after a very successful festival run and multiple sales that started in Berlin, including North America, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany.

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