Cannes Reaches Out Via Market Circuit

Fest honchos Fremaux and Paillard recognized early on the importance of Latin America and deepened commitment to region


Argentina’s Ventana Sur, the biggest film mart in one of the world’s fastest growing film regions, will announce its fifth edition dates and details at Cannes.

Ventana Sur is a joint initiative of Argentina’s Incaa Film Institute and the Cannes Market and is one example of how Cannes director Thierry Fremaux and Cannes Market exec director Jerome Paillard have expanded the fest’s geographic reach.

Following on Cannes’ Cinefondation, created by longtime fest prexy Gilles Jacob, a quiver of Market joint ventures have turned Cannes from a one-off event in mid-May into a year-round industry service.

Most of those overseas initiatives have focused on Latin America, whether at Mexico’s Guadalajara Festival (a Producers Network, launched 2008), Ventana Sur in Buenos Aires or San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, initiated 2012.

This year the Cannes Market hosts the first pics-in-post showcase, BAL Goes to Cannes, showcasing five unfinished films from the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival’s Lab.

The Market’s march into Latin America says a lot about a fest’s evolving role in a modern-day film world, plus the challenges faced by foreign-language film production worldwide.

As a nonprofit, Cannes’ outreach is “not driven by profitability. It’s development, a strategic decision,” Paillard said.

It is no coincidence, however, that, as Cannes’ commitment to Latin America has deepened over the past five years — both in the official selection and Directors’ Fortnight under Edouard Waintrop — so has Latin America’s to Cannes.

“There’s been a big change, the flowering of a kind of love story between Cannes and Latin America. Cannes is really a festival all Latin American filmmakers love to be at,” Paillard added.

For Latin America, the Market can offer expertise, clout and training. At 2013’s Cannes Producers Network, practitioners in sales, production, festivals and markets talk with young producers about business fundamentals and best-case practice.

What Cannes can really bring to the table is, well, Cannes. For Ventana Sur, it helps persuade the cream of arthouse and crossover sales-distribution companies, all Cannes regulars, to fly to Buenos Aires to view Latin American films. Few say no.

Most Latin American films are still small foreign-language movies. The cost of launching a film at Cannes can be more than an average Latin American film’s minimum guarantees from international distributors, one producer said. Traveling to Ventana Sur or Guadalajara is much cheaper and Latin American films are front-and-center.

San Sebastian’s Co-production Forum established what Paillard calls a roadmap for Europe-Latin American project development.

“It gave me co-production relationships that I’ve kept up for more than one project,” said producer Micaela Sole, who pitched Daniel Hendler’s “The Pidgeon House” there.

European Forum winners were flown to December’s Ventana Sur. Cannes’ Producers Network offered accreditation to eight Latin American producers who pitched projects at the Forum. Two — Bolivia’s Denisse Arancibia Flores and Ecuador’s Gabriela Calvache — receive Cannes attendance support.

At Tuesday’s BAL Goes to Cannes showcase, extracts of five titles first seen in April at Bafici’s Buenos Aires Lab screen for sales agents and fest-heads at Cannes.

The Market meets an urgent necessity for Latin America’s movie production sector. Driven by government support and, in some countries, hiked TV coin, movie production levels have spiked not only in Latin America’s biggest territories but also Colombia, Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador. Beyond financing, the next frontier is international distribution.

“Apart from Mexico, Europe is the biggest market for films from Latin America,” Paillard said. “Cannes is their perfect platform.”

In all, 34 Latin American producers attended Producers Network in 2007, 54 this year. Colombian producers received a spotlight on Friday and “Buenaventura mon amour,” a multi-platform transmedia project created by producer Steven Grisales and director Jose Luis Rugeles from Colombia’s Rhayuela Films, plays at Cannes’ new Cross Media Corner.

But if Latin America is good for Cannes, Cannes can be good for Latin America. In 2012, Michel Franco’s Un Certain Regard player “After Lucia” and Pablo Larrain’s “No,” which topped Directors’ Fortnight, have gone on to become breakout sales hits around the world.