Ventana Sur fires up biz

Spotlight: Ventana Sur 2012

As Europe strains under economic crisis, Latin America is building — sometimes dramatically — not only as a movie market but also as a production power.

Exhibit A: Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur mart, which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 3. Launched by Argentina’s Incaa and Cannes Festival’s Market in 2009, Ventana Sur established itself from the get-go as Latin America’s premiere sales market for regional films.

That means improving every year, says Ventana Sur co-director Bernardo Bergeret.

In 2012, Ventana Sur inked a strategic partnership with the Cannes Market and San Sebastian Festival to create a round-the-year roadmap for Latin American pic development. Four European producers with projects at San Sebastian’s first Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum are invited to Ventana Sur; select Latin American Forum project producers will attend Cannes Producers’ Network.

Also new, Cannes Market’s Producers Network will hold three lunches. About 100 producers are expected to attend, per Producers Network manager Julie Bergeron.

Cannes Cinefondation director Georges Goldenstern will select the six pix-in-post Primer Corte strand. A Very Important Programmers (VIP) digital library section will permit fest-heads to screen more near-to-completion movies.

Ventana Sur’s core remains, however, its screenings — 128 movies this year — and sales agent, distributor and TV presence.

“We want to keep the human dimension of Ventana Sur, but it’s clear the number of sales companies, buyers and festival programmers is continuing to grow regularly,” says event co-director Jerome Paillard.

At 481, international buyer numbers were tracking 12% up on 2011 by Oct. 30. Put that down to the growing lure of Latin American films, talent and financing.

“Latin American audiences are beginning to consume their own product. That’s the big change,” says Alvaro Longoria of Spain’s Morena Films. “Before, good Latin American directors went to Hollywood or Spain to make big films.”

“There’s been a general professionalization, higher standards,” per Dynamo partner Cristian Conti. “In each territory, new companies have emerged that have confirmed themselves as reliable producers and counter-parties of co-producers.”

Foreign players have increasingly moved in, given Latin America’s strong economic climate and the Old World’s drawbacks, Conti adds, citing Fox Intl. Prods., Sony and HBO Latin America. Studio facilities are opening in the Dominican Republic and Panama. Governments are upping stimulus measures. Beginning in 2013, Colombia will offer 20% to 40% rebates for foreign shoots; Brazil’s Audiovisual Sector Fund will rise to $400 million.

In late August, Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner near-doubled subsidy caps to 5.5 million pesos ($650,000) per film, and unveiled plans for a studio-office complex, Polo Audiovisual, in Buenos Aires.

Galvanized by TV format sales — up from $153.4 million in 2009 to $254.4 million last year — total Argentine film/TV exports rose 49% 2009-11, according to the recent Argentina Exporta Audiovisual report.

In exports over the same period, 79 movies bowed theatrically outside Argentina. Only seven, however, grossed over $1 million abroad; Argentinean movie B.O. in Spain was $20.3 million, nearly triple the $6.9 million B.O. in the rest of Latin America.

Then again, Latin America’s film industry is still growing. Many companies driving change — Canana, Dynamo, Fabula, Magma Cine — are less than 10 years old.

“It’s a maturing industry,” says Pablo Cruz at Mexico’s Canana. “Director and companies are beginning to position themselves at the forefront of a new world industry. I can only imagine Latin America growing.”

At Chile’s Fabula, Juan de Dios Larrain, predicts there will be more micro-budget movies, driven by digital technology and a sky-rocketing number of film students plus more expensive movies as directors step up in scale.

Juan Jose Campanella’s “Foosball,” screening as a work-in-progress at Ventana Sur, is budgeted at about $20 million.

“Latin America is making more internationally-competitive films and companies, given Europe’s crisis, are linking up much more,” says Incaa prexy Liliana Mazure, ascribing the phenom to Ventana Sur, the Ibermedia co-production fund and regional integration pushed by the Caaci association of national film boards.

The next step should be pan-regional production alliances, adds Juan Pablo Gugliotta at Argentina’s Magma. Producers have talked that talk since the 1980s. Finally they may be walking the walk.

HIGHLIGHTSCaaci, Ibero-America’s national film board org, huddles beginning Nov. 26.

Programmed and hosted by Cannes topper Thierry Fremaux, European Film Week will take

place Nov. 28-Dec. 5, showcasing “Amour,” “The Angels’ Share,” “Reality,” “Holy Motors” and “The Hunt.”

Spain’s Institute Bunuel and Fundacion Autor organize workshop Cine Cruzando Fronteras, Nov. 28-30 , targeting new producers.Ibermedia, IberoAmerica’s co-production fund starts Nov. 28.

The Latin American Film Commission Network hosts a panel.

International co-production platform DocBuenosAires runs Dec. 1-3.

A day after Ventana Sur, Italy’s Istituto LuceCinecitta hosts Italian Film Screenings at Puerto

de Madero’s Cinemark,

Spotlight: Ventana Sur 2012
Ventana Sur fires up biz | Ventana lure | Latinos to love