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Distribution and Exhibition Remain Sticking Points for Latin American Film

Film Fund Forum held at the Guadalajara Int’l Film Fest

GUADALAJARA, Mexico —  Distribution and exhibition remain elusive for Latin America’s film industry despite the production glut and the emergence of digital alternatives.

This was the main conclusion of a free-wheeling debate on the state of public film funds in a forum that included Jose Miguel Alvarez of the Mexican Film Institute (Imcine), Ibermedia’s Elena Vilardell, Michelle Van Beusekom of the National Film Board, Canada, Bryce Norbitz of the Tribeca Film Institute and Pierre Emile Vandoorne of Peru’s audiovisual arts institute DAFO. The Forum, among the many held during the 33rd Guadalajara Int’l Film Festival (FICG), sought to address the advances and issues in film funding worldwide.

The panel was moderated by helmer-scribe-producer Patrice Vivancos, who played devil’s advocate to stir the debate. Vilardell, reflecting on Ibermedia’s 20 years, pointed out that television support could be improved and screen quotas – rejected by some territories – have helped improve the exhibition chances of many films.

“Independent film circuits, even in Spain, are vanishing,” she pointed out, making it even harder for smaller indie films to find their audience. Digital platforms, while multiplying, are not the perfect solution, the panel concluded.

Norbitz observed that the Tribeca Film Institute’s program to help indie filmmakers make their features, shorts and series is one stepping stone to help them in their careers. She cited Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, both indie directors, who leapt to mainstream blockbuster status with “Black Panther” and “A Wrinkle in Time,” respectively. “We hope that Hollywood and television continue to hire indie filmmakers,” she said.

Vivancos asserted that 80% to 90% of Latin American films don’t circulate in the region and were more likely to be seen in Europe before anywhere else.

“Film festivals and awards play a pivotal role in extending the exhibition of films,” Vilardell said, citing the case of Chile’s Foreign-Language Oscar winner, “A Fantastic Woman” and Paraguay’s Berlinale winner “The Heiresses” (“Las Herederas”) which have seen their exhibition times expanded. Ibermedia also offers an additional 10% to grants to those from territories with greater distribution challenges, “but it has to be requested,” she stressed.

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