Buenos Aires– Japan, rated only 18 months ago as the world’s toughest major market for mainstream movies and art pics alike, looks to be coming back to the table, though the territory still remains a hard sell.

Joining a steady trickle of art films to close deals to the territory, Venezuela’s 2010 Oscar entry “Hermano” has been sold by Germany’s M-Appeal to Japan’s Only Hearts.

Clinched in Buenos Aires Saturday, the deal is one of the first to go down at this year’s Ventana Sur, the four-day Latin American film market, which opened its doors on Friday.

M-Appeal has also recently closed Japanese rights with AT Entertainment on Argentine Nicolas Goldbart’s “Fase 7.”

Japan is opening up, recognized Anne Wiedlack, M-Appeal sales manager.

But compared to other Asian territories – she cited Taiwan – it still remains a hard sell.

“Hermano” and “Fase 7,” both screened at last year’s Ventana Sur, also lie at the most accessible end of the art house scale.

Recently closing Russia (Maywin Media), Poland (TV Polska) and China, Marcel Rasquin’s directorial debut “Hermano” is a wider-audience Caracas mean streets tale of two bros’ soccer dreams.

A dark apocalypse comedy, “Fase 7” toplines Daniel Hendler (“Lost Embrace”) as a husband caring for his seven-months-pregnant wife, just as a mortal epidemic hits Buenos Aires.

As ever more art-house buyers seek feel-good, accessible or arty genre titles, the question mark hanging over many Latin American films is whether they’re big and audience-friendly enough in order to attract sales agents, so subsequent sales.