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Mexican gov’t takes over Conafilm

Smythe named deputy director of Imcine

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s national film institute has established a new office in charge of promoting foreign film production in Mexico, replacing Mexico’s National Film Commission (Conafilm).

Hugo Villa Smythe, an official at the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografia (Imcine)  since 2005 who was previously a unit manager on films including “The Legend of Zorro” and “Troy,” has been named deputy director of Imcine’s new Film Production Aid area, which begins operating this week. Carla Raygoza, who worked in production on films including “Munich,” is the contact for producers looking to film in Mexico.   

Department will be in charge of providing logistical aid to foreign and domestic producers and will manage a catalog of local film service providers and a photo bank of locations, provide consulting services and act as a liaison with local governments.

Imcine late last year cut its funding to Conafilm under the influence of industry leaders such as Marcela Fernandez, head of the film workers union, who were unhappy with Conafilm’s management. Conafilm had operated as a nonprofit funded by the government and private money under the direction of Sergio Molina.

Villa said in an interview Friday that Imcine wanted to improve the quality of logistical services and streamline relations with local governments.    While it’s Hollywood’s closest runaway production location, Mexico gets far fewer U.S. shoots than Canada and has no real fiscal incentives to attract producers. Villa aims to get states to offer tax-free lodging and other services.

Villa also noted the new administration wants to boost Mexico’s film infrastructure and aims to have new studio facilities operating within several years. Currently, Mexico’s industry depends on its only major studio space, Estudios Churubusco Azteca in Mexico City.

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