Argentina biz sold on ad directors

Commercials helmers tackle filmmaking

BUENOS AIRES — Ad directors and producers in Argentina are expanding into filmmaking, bringing the industry a fresh source of financing and talent.

LaDobleA, which makes commercials for Coca-Cola, Ford and Visa, produced “La Antena” (The Aerial) a sci-fi fantasy pic that opened the last Rotterdam Film Festival. The director, Esteban Sapir (“Fine Powder”), is on the company’s payroll.

While “Antena” didn’t recover its $1.5 million budget with a domestic run of 10,000-plus admissions this year, it has opened doors for LaDobleA to co-production projects and to rally partners behind new films, say Gonzalo Agulla and Jose Arnal, executive producers and company founders.

“It is an investment for the future,” said Agulla.

They are in talks with Argentina’s Aquafilms to participate in “La Seguridad de los Perros,” a $1 million drama about a family’s paranoia for security that will be directed by Jorge Gaggero (“Cama Adentro”), another ad director on LaDobleA’s staff.

Juan Taratuto, another LaDobleA director, hit big at the box office with his first two films. Romantic comedy “Quien dice que es facil” (Who Says It’s Easy), produced by Argentina’s Rizoma Films and other companies, was the biggest domestic draw in the first half of this year, taking 10th place overall with 420,000 admissions.

Others are following suit. Edi Flehner, a seasoned ad producer who has produced films like Ana Katz’s “Una novia errante” (Wandering Bride), is in post-production on his first feature, “Rancho (una historia aparte)” (Rancho, an Aside Story). Gustavo Taretto, another ad veteran, will expand his short “Medianeras” (Side Walls) on urban loneliness. Luis “Pucho” Mentasti is prepping “La vida de El Frente Vital” based on the life of a slain star of cumbia, a popular music form in Argentina.

Huinca Cine co-produced Taratuto’s “Easy” and now is co-producing “El frasco,” the latest feature of Alberto Lecchi (“Una estrella y dos cafes”).

This bodes well for an industry that is heavily reliant on state subsidies and foreign co-production coin — one which is facing higher costs as inflation rises at 10% for a third successive year.

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