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‘Dust,’ ‘Buenaventura,’ ‘Embrace’ at BAM

Bogota mart capitalizes on Colombia's lure

MADRID — The market premiere of Ruben Mendoza’s “Dust on the Tongue,” hip-hop drama “Buenaventura Mon Amour” and upcoming projects from multiple top Colombian helmers – Ciro Guerra, Victor Gaviria, Jhonny Hendrix – look like some of the highlights at this week’s 4th Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM), Colombia’s biggest national film-TV mart, networking forum and conference, which is organized by its Proimagenes film board and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.

An acid portrait of a heartless, brutal and vulgar family patriarch, “Dust” will screen 12 minutes tighter than the version seen at February’s Cartagena Festival, said Thierry Lenouvel, whose Paris-based shingle Cine-Sud Promotion co-produced with Colombia’s Dia-fragma.

Beyond 18 features screenings at Bogota’s Avenida Chile Cine Colombia Multiplex, which all compete for a newly-created $15,000 Cinecolor Digital Colombia cash prize, much of BAM’s interest turns on its panel strand, BAM Talks, and its 103 fiction feature and docu pic projects being pitched by Colombian producers.

Of the latter, seen at Cannes’ Cross Media Corner and set in Colombian port Buenaventura’s hip hop scene, the movie/dance/music/web franchise “Buenaventura” will officially launch at a macro-fiesta in Bogota Wednesday.

Among other BAM projects, Guerra will present “Embrace of the Serpent,” his follow-up to the well-received Elle Driver-sold “The Wind Journeys.” Another World Cinema landscape film, “Embrace” follows a shaman and disciple into the heart of Colombia’s fast-gone Amazon jungle.

Gaviria (“Rodrigo D: No Future,” “The Rose Seller”) will talk up “The Animal’s Woman,” a true-events-inspired ‘70s-set tale of family abuse.

Based out of Antorcha Films (“Dog Eat Dog,” “Anina”), producer-turned-director Jhonny Hendrix (“Choco”) will present “Saudo,” a horror-thriller about a man who returns to his black witchcraft-cursed village.
Including a strong delegation of Canadian producers, with Canada figuring as BAM’s guest country this year, international attendance is up 63% to 101 participants. Total applications to attend rose 294% to 1,268, projects submitted 84% to 103, said BAM exec director Andres Bayona.

Such big year-on-year hikes can be put down to multiple factors: the lure of new Colombian 40%-20% international shoot rebates, Latin America’s most generous; hiked U.S.-Colombia production links, involving, among others, Participant Media, Will Smith’s Overbrook Ent., XYZ Films and Alex Garcia; rapidly hiking subsidy coin, which has doubled since 2009 to Pesos19.9 million ($10.2 million); and Colombia’s burgeoning genre production scene.

“XYZ looks to Latin America and Colombia specifically as a South American hub for production alliances; BAM is a great opportunity to expand relationships and reconnect,” said Nate Bolotin at XYZ Films, the L.A.-based production-sales company of elevated, director-driven genre fare which has just wrapped Luis Quillez’s supernatural thriller “Out of the Dark.” Participant Media finances; Colombia’s Dynamo and Spain’s Apaches Entertainment produce; XYZ exec-produces.

“There is very exciting talent coming out of Latin America, and Colombian producers like Dynamo, 64A Films or Rhayuela, to name a few, have shown a tremendous capacity for making films for a budget with impressive production value and increased festival pedigree,” concurred Fabien Westerhoff at Jeremy Thomas’ London-based HanWay which, via speciality sales label Hanway Select, is driving into foreign language genre pics such as RT Features’ “Rio Siege” in Brazil.

Miguel Urrutia, a Bogota-based scribe-helmer/tech-innovator, will talk up two of the most market-minded genre movies screening at BAM.

Co-produced by Defiant Pictures in L.A. and U.K.-based Straightwire Films, time-loop murder thriller “Wake Up and Die” is already sold to over 30 territories by Imagination Worldwide, including Germany (Tiberius), France (Emylia) and Japan (Zazie). The real-time, multi-twist “The Game of the Hangman,” starring Jason Chad Roth as a kidnapped U.S. constructor, will screen in post-production.

Colombia’s legacy of violence – often characters’ struggle to escape its horror or lure or assume its consequences – darkens near half of BAM’s 52 fiction feature projects.

It is seen in myriad iterations: the temptations of easy-money delinquency, drug gang hit men, mass murder, brutal racketeers, rape, kidnapping.

Among BAM projects, Juan Felipe Cano’s “The Seed of Fear” is a noirish mass grave cover-up thriller; Maritza Blanco’s “White Tuna Fishing” narrates how a girl ends up collecting cocaine for a Mexican drug lord; 64-A’s Carlos Moreno helmed “Lobos perdidos” will turn on two on-the-mend mafia goodfellas; in “Mateo,” a teen chooses between working for an extortionist uncle and life in a theater troupe. Co-produced by Jose Andres Botero’s Septima Films and now shooting, social-issue procedural “NN,” from Peru’s Hector Galvez (“Paraiso”), turns on the discovery of a corpse with a photo under its shirt of a smiling girl. “NN” won Cuba’s prestigious Havana Fest best screenplay plaudit, as Claudia Llosa’s “Madeinusa” and Javier Fuentes-Leon’s “Undertow” before it.

Colombian films’ biggest challenge is to grab a bigger share of their rapidly growing domestic market, worth $182.3 million in box office in 2012. Share in the last three years – 8.9% in 2012 – has declined compared to 2007-08. One way forward is international co-production, where BAM can play a large role.

BAM runs July 8-12.

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