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International Newswire: Genre, Sci-Fi, Thrillers Rise in Latin America, and Beyond

In today’s International Newswire, Latin America sees the rise of genre filmmaking, Film4 strengthens its exec team as it enters awards season, and FremantleMedia inks a scripted deal with 87 Films.

Genre filmmaking is becoming a more commercially potent force in Latin America and elsewhere as digital distribution gains strength.

At last week’s Mar del Plata Film Festival, of 12 Argentine movie projects presented at one of its main pitching sessions, over half were horror or thriller movies, including some of its most notable titles, whether Paula Martel’s assassination suspenser “First We Take Anillaco,” Rosendo Ruíz’s neo-noir “Boom Boom,” or Maximiliano Anríquez’s post-apocalypse low-fi sci-fi “The Doggy.”

Genre in its widest sense, embracing horror, thrillers and sci-fi, is the film type of choice for Latin America’s newest generation of filmmakers. Drawn from all over Argentina, the directors and producers behind the projects at Mar del Plata are almost all under 40.

On Tuesday, out of Ventana Sur’s Blood Window event, Pablo Guisa Koestinger, head of Mexico’s Mórbido Festival, announced a production alliance with Mónica Lozano, Mexico’s preeminent film producer, whose credits include Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Amores Perros” and Eugenio Dérbez’s “Instructions Not Included,” to make genre movies.

It’s not just in Latin America that genre is on the rise. Paris-based Federation Entertainment, one of Europe’s leading high-end TV drama production-sales houses, recently announced the creation of a genre/sci-fi TV fiction series label.

It is probably no coincidence that all these moves are being made in a film and TV context where digital distribution is now a growing alternative to theatrical distribution. Genre films and thrillers play well on VOD and SVOD. Genre’s challenge, especially when it comes to horror, has traditionally been to breakout from a fanboy base to broader audiences. Time and the evolution of distribution channels may now be more on its side.

FILM4 STRENGTHENS ITS EXEC LINEUP AS IT HEADS INTO AWARDS SEASON
Film4, the movie production arm of the U.K.’s Channel 4, has reshuffled and strengthened its team as it heads into awards season with a powerful portfolio of movies.

Sue Bruce-Smith is promoted to deputy director, and Lauren Dark joins from the BFI Film Fund as a commissioning executive. Cassandra Carias becomes head of legal and business affairs, and Don McNicholl is promoted to senior legal and business affairs executive. In addition, finance manager Suby McCarthy joins the organization’s management team and Nicky Earnshaw has been asked to act up as head of physical production.

Bruce-Smith joined Film4 13 years ago as commercial and distribution manager, before moving into her current role as head of commercial and brand strategy.

Dark will focus on debut features and new talent, reporting to Film4’s head of creative Ollie Madden. Prior to joining BFI Film Fund in an interim position, she worked as a producer with Stray Bear Productions, where she produced Michael Pearce’s Film4/BFI backed debut feature “Beast” with Ivana MacKinnon and Kristian Brodie. Previously she worked in development and production at Sixteen Films where she produced Tom Harper’s political thriller “War Book.”

Film4’s slate includes Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Andrew Haigh’s “Lean on Pete,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” as well as Rungano Nyoni’s “I Am Not a Witch,” Sebastián Lelio’s “Disobedience,” Clio Barnard’s “Dark River” and Paddy Considine’s “Journeyman.”

FREMANTLEMEDIA INKS DRAMA DEALS WITH 87 FILMS
Production-distribution giant FremantleMedia has added to its roster of scripted partnerships with a development deal with 87 Films.

The production company was set up by Dudi Appleton and Jim Keeble, one of the leading writing duos in the U.K. drama industry, and best known for “Silent Witness” and “Thorne.” They have been joined now by executive producer Patrick Irwin (“The Fall,” “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell”).

Under the agreement, the companies will collaborate on scripted projects for the international market. 87 Films is developing dramas with FremantleMedia’s Wildside in Italy, Kwai in France, Miso across Scandinavia and FremantleMedia North America in the U.S.

FOCUS PRODUCTION SUMMIT LINES UP INDUSTRY SPEAKERS
FOCUS, the London-based international location event running Dec. 5/6, has unveiled its program of panels, workshops and presentations.

The event kicks off with an onstage interview with Andy Noble, co-producer of “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” and is followed by a discussion about high-end TV that includes “Knightfall” writer Dominic Minghella, and Carlo Dusi, head of business and commercial affairs at Scott Free, and an executive producer on Tom Hardy’s “Taboo.”

The program also includes a presentation by Andrew Barnes, associate director at Olsberg:SPI, based on the company’s research, titled “The Ripple Effect: How Film and TV Drama Productions Grow the Creative Industries.”

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