Provinces eye Buenos Aires business

Tucuman looks to lure away filmmakers

BUENOS AIRES — The Argentine province of Tucuman is talking to its neighbors about developing a film industry to siphon away business from overcrowded Buenos Aires.

“We want to position ourselves (in the industry) and bring shoots to the region,” Rafael Vasquez Rivera, the artistic director of audiovisual media for the Tucuman government, told Variety. “It is a long-term project.”

Among other things, Tucuman and the provinces of Catamarca, Jujuy, Salta and Santiago del Estero plan to establish policies and funds for production in the northern region of Argentina, helping to build a film workforce, Vasquez Rivera said from the sidelines of the Buenos Aires Intl. Festival of Independent Film, which unspooled April 8-20 in the capital.

Tucuman, which has a film school, has already helped fund films including Zuhair Jury’s pianist biopic “El piano mudo” and Francisco D’Intino’s farmer drama “El fin de la espera (sera justicia)” and is lining up other projects, Vasquez Rivera said.

To showcase the region, Tucuman will hold its third annual film festival Oct. 22-29. Top prize will be 20,000 pesos ($6,300) for best film.

Tucuman Cine, as the festival is called, is “helping us to meet producers and directors,” Vasquez Rivera said.

The provinces would like to echo the success of San Luis, which is gaining attention as a fresh source of easier-to-access financing and for its lower production costs and greater availability of studios and services as compared with Buenos Aires. San Luis has an annual budget of $8 million, or nearly a third of what the national government spends on film, and last year it launched its first international festival, bringing in celebs including Geraldine Chaplin, Catherine Deneuve, Emma Suarez, Maria Grazia Cucinotta and Argentina’s Oscar-winning art director Eugenio Zanetti.

The smaller markets are getting noticed in part because a glut of domestic and foreign commercials, films and television projects is jacking up costs and making it hard to get studio time and production services in Buenos Aires.

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