BUENOS AIRES — San Luis will hold its first international film festival Nov. 16-25, the latest effort to attract productions to the central province of Argentina.
The San Luis Cine Festival, unspooling in the province’s capital city San Luis, will award cash prizes of $50,000 to the winning feature, $10,000 for top documentary and $5,000 for best short.
“The intention of the festival is to bring people to San Luis — distributors, actors, directors and producers — so they get to know it and talk about the province and its film industry,” Julio Marbiz, the fest’s general director, tells Variety.
San Luis has gained attention in Argentina as a fresh source of accessible financing and for its lower production costs and less-crowded studios as compared with Buenos Aires.
With an annual budget of $8 million, or nearly a third of the federal government’s film spending, San Luis has co-produced or helped fund a telenovela and two dozen feature films over the past few years, including Tristan Bauer’s Tribeca-winning war pic “Iluminados por el fuego” (Enlightened by Fire).
Spaniard Anton Reixa (“The Carpenter’s Pencil”) lensed parts of “Hotel Tivoli” in San Luis, and Argentina’s Oscar-winning art director Eugenio Zanetti made his directing debut there with “Arbol de fuego” (Tree of Fire) there.
The province, with a population of 370,000 and the most advanced highway system in the country, recently opened a $2.2 million film studio.
“San Luis wants to co-produce films from other countries, not just Argentinean productions,” says Marbiz, who as head of Incaa, the federal film board, revived the established Mar del Plata Film Fest in 1996 after a 26-year absence.
This week, the province signed to co-produce “Ni Dios, ni patron, ni marido,” about four women in Argentina who form the world’s first feminist newspaper. Spain’s Laura Mana of “Killing Words” will direct.
Films competing in the fest include Cannes-laurelled “Meduzot” (Jellyfish) by Israelis Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret, “Spider Lilies” by Taiwan’s Zero Chou, “Angel-A” by France’s Luc Besson and “Exiled” by Hong Kong’s Johnny To.
Latin American titles in competition are Brazilian Lina Chamie’s “A Via Lactea” (The Milky Way), Mexican Simon Bross’ “Malos Habitos” (Bad Habits) Puerto Rican Carlos Ruiz Ruiz’s “Maldeamores” (Lovesickness) and “El Bano del Papa” (The Pope’s Toilet) by Uruguay’s Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez.