Some 2.7 million people live in Galicia; an estimated 10 million Galician emigres are spread worldwide and continue to maintain strong homeland links. Up to 1 million Gallegos dwell in Buenos Aires alone, endowing Galician cultural heritage with a fascinating mix of tango and bagpipes.

So now more than ever, Galicia’s looking to build on these cultural links to strengthen joint cultural industries such as movie production.

In 2006, the Galicia Audiovisual Consortium launched the Raices co-production fund with Argentina, Catalonia and Andalusia. Partners put up E150,000 ($220,500) per year to co-finance four co-productions.

Still extending its co-prod net, after a Galician-Brazilian Audiovisual Encounter in Sao Paulo, the Consortium teamed last September with Brazil’s National Cinema Agency, Ancine, to back two annual Galician-Brazilian co-productions, one majority-led for each country.

“Sex of Angels,” directed by Xavier Villaverde, one of the founding fathers of modern Galician cinema, and “Absence,” by Alberto Graca, received the first two cash awards of $191,000 each.

That may account for 10% or less of a film’s budget — “Absence” costs $2.3 million, says producer Luciana Boal Marinho — but the finance reaps a significant part of the 20% or so completion funding that producers can struggle to tie down, having already tapped traditional financing sources.

And the co-production money reps a new wave of public funding, where authorities seek to fast-track standout projects.

Awards can also stand producers in good stead as they seek further public funding in Galicia and Brazil. The $4 million “Sex” has now pulled down co-production coin from Ibermedia, the main Spain-Portugal-Latin America film fund.

Galicia’s co-production thrust doesn’t look set to end here. The Consortium has forged an agreement with the Cuban Film Institute and organized a Cuban showcase in Galicia this year, together with a Galician Film Week in Havana.

Fernando Salgado, Galicia’s communications secretary general, aims to transform Galicia into an international film location, using instruments such as its film-risk equity fund SempreCinema to attract major foreign productions to the region.

Salgado believes Galicia can play a pivotal role in strengthening links with Latin America. France, the crossroads of European co-production, is also in Salgado’s sights for an international co-production agreement.

In June, the Consortium hosted a visit by high-profile French director Regis Warnier, exploring the possibility of his helming a French-Galician co-production in the near future.

The Consortium’s efforts have helped goose Galicia’s international co-productions, and sales, which went from less than 1% in 2002 to almost 6% in 2007.

Vaca Films’ “Cell 211,” now shooting, is using one business model: The $5.1 million prison thriller is directed by Daniel Monzon, whose previous outing, “The Kovak Box,” was one of the few Spanish films to achieve B.O. traction in 2007, with $2.4 million.

Pic is supported by Spanish film institute ICAA and the Galician Audiovisual Agency and co-produced by Morena Films and Telecinco Cinema, whose involvement helped attract Canal Plus France and an international sales pickup, Gallic agent Films Distribution.

“There are over 400 million Spanish speakers in the world,” notes Vaca producer Borja Pena. “We must make a much bigger effort to exploit this huge international market.”