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Movers and reshapers

Spotlight: Ventana Sur

LUCAS AKOSKIN
Producer-thesp, Argentina
Los Angeles-based Lucas Akoskin, 32, has been called the King of Shorts, a tag he doesn’t like, since 2008 when he pioneered the innovative “Terra Shorts,” a collection of independent stories woven together by the Latin American experience. His latest package, “The Heartbeat of the World,” in collaboration with Guillermo Arriaga and Alex Garcia, comprises four features (each made up of 10 shorts) on religion, sex, politics and substance abuse. Emir Kusturica and Jose Padilha are also on board.

BENJAMIN AVILA
Helmer-scribe, Argentina
Avila takes a fresh look at Argentina’s Dirty War (1976 to 1983) in his fiction debut “Clandestine Childhood,” about a 12-year-old boy living with resistance fighters, based on his memories of growing up. “There was a lot of happiness and love not just fear and panic,” he says. “I wanted to capture the human side without a dramatic or political tone,” the same approach he used for “Nietos (identidad y memorial),” a Dirty War survivors documentary. The approach fetched “Childhood” a Films in Progress kudos at San Sebastian.

BRUNO BETTATI
Producer/film exec, Chile
Bettati has worn several hats during his film career but, from next year, he’d like to focus on producing two to three pics annually, including documentaries. He’s managed to make several pics despite myriad responsibilities. Bettati, 38, is director of the Valdivia Film Festival and prexy of Chile’s Film and TV Producers Assn., APCT. His latest production, Cristian Jimenez’s drama “Bonsai” wowed in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. Up next is dark comedy “El verano de los peces voladores.”

VINICIUS COIMBRA
Helmer, Brazil
After 12 years as a leading TV Globo telenovela helmer, Coimbra’s first foray into filmmaking has been an instant hit. “Matraga,” based on a short story by Brazilian author Guimaraes Rosa, swept the recent Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Latin America’s largest event, nabbing five kudos including the jury and audience awards. “My goal was to allow Rosa’s story to reach the public through film,” he says. Coimbra is developing a version of “Macbeth,” set in present-day Sao Paulo.

JULIAN GIRALDO
Producer/RCN Cine g.m., Colombia
Giraldo spurned the law profession 10 years ago to pursue his lifetime ambition to make films. Since launching RCN Cine in 2004, Giraldo, 40, has exec produced more than 20 pics, docus and shorts. In 2008 he co-founded production service company Shoot Colombia with helmer-scribe Felipe Aljure. Seeking a global interface for Colombian pics has led him to develop such projects as Screen Gems’ “Operation Checkmate” with Greg Shapiro (“The Hurt Locker”) co-producing, and Simon Brand’s found-footage English-lingo drama “Default.”

JUAN DE DIOS LARRAIN
Producer, Chile
“Tennis pros play different surfaces, so should producers,” says Fabula founder Larrain. And so he has this year, producing HBO Latin America’s “Profugos,” Fabula’s first TV drama; co-producing “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” from Abel Ferrara, Fabula’s first foreign film director, and rolling Nov. 7 on Gael Garcia Bernal starrer “No,” a move into wider-audience filmmaking by brother Pablo Larrain. Helmer Sebastian Sepulveda’s “The Quispe Girls” won Guadalajara’s Co-Production Market, “Young and Wild,” was a San Sebastian standout. Larrain is an increasingly versatile force in Latin American fiction.

PAULA MARKOVITCH
Helmer-scribe, Mexico
Her first outing as a helmer, “The Prize,” proved very aptly named, topping the Guadalajara and Morelia fests and taking two artistic Berlin Silver Bears. Arguably Mexico’s best film this year, the debut features a young girl and her mother hiding from Argentina’s dictatorship in a gloomy seaside shanty. Clearly adept in drawing from her past, Markovitch is seeking funding for her second feature inspired by her father — a visual artist and teacher.

MATIAS MEYER
Helmer-scribe, Mexico
An alumnus of the Sorbonne and Mexico’s CCC film school (as was Markovitch), Meyer is clearly an art for art’s sake type of filmmaker. “I am kind of a rebel, I go slowly, I film at the speed of the world,” he says. “In the theater, I want there to be a moment of reflexion … of internal spirituality.” In “The Last Cristeros,” Meyer transforms the wandering style used in previous works into a narrative advantage that bears following.

MARCOS PRADO
Producer-director, Brazil
“Artificial Paradise,” a love story set in the milieu of rave and synthetic drugs, is the fiction feature debut of Prado, who helmed “Estamira,” a multi-prized social commentary docu. Prado’s breakthrough came as a producing partner at Zazen, which produced Jose Padilha’s Berlin Golden Bear winner “Elite Squad,” and its sequel, “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within,” Brazil’s top local B.O earner. In October Prado, Padilha and other leading Brazilian helmers and producers founded indie distrib Nossa that will make “Paradise” its first Brazilian release early next year.

DIEGO VELASCO
Helmer-scribe, Venezuela
Born in the U.S. but raised in Venezuela, Velasco drew inspiration from the harsh realities of life in that country to make his feature debut. Co-penned with wife Carolina Paiz, hitman drama “Zero Hour” is set during the 1996 Caracas medical strike and is the highest-grossing local pic of all time. Velasco, 38, honed his craft on a handful of award-winning shorts and commercials as well as TV. He’s developing horror pic, “The Whistler,” based on a Venezuelan legend.

SPOTLIGHT: VENTANA SUR
Ventana Sur’s sales surge | Bazaar buzz | Movers and reshapers

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