×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

France Honors Zupnik

Vet Argentine distributor named a French Chevalier

MADRID – Argentina’s Bernardo Zupnik, one of Latin America’s best-known and longest-standing film distributors, has been named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres — a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters — by French culture and communication minister Aurelie Filippetti.

Zupnik will receive the Order’s insignia — an eight-point asterisk medallion on a green-with-white-bars ribbon — at a ceremony that will take place in September or October in Buenos Aires.

Awarded to French citizens and foreigners for their contribution to or promotion of the arts and literature, the distinction goes to one of Latin America’s iconic figures in the distribution landscape who has battled since he entered the sector in 1968 to carve out a space for independent films from France, Argentina, the U.S. and beyond.

Zupnik has seen spectacular results in some recent years. His company, Distribution Co., which he runs with daughter Paula Zupnik, was the top-ranking indie in Argentina in 2009, thanks to Oscar winner “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which grossed $9.3 million on home-turf Argentina.

But indie distribution in Argentina isn’t getting any easier.

Now a patrician figure on the festival circuit, Zupnik can access top-notch French titles. He is currently scouring for sufficient screens to open Gaumont’s “The Chef,” with Jean Reno, has released “The Intouchables,” Francois Ozon’s “The Refuge” and “In the House,” and multiple titles from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. He bought Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”

The Dardenne brothers’ “The Kid with the Bike” punched $90,000. That, these days, is upbeat for straight-arrow arthouse in Argentina.

Argentina frames a paradox. Total Argentinean box office spiked 27% to Pesos1.2 billion ($234.2 million) in 2012, per IHS Electronics & Media (formerly IHS Screen Digest). That’s one of the biggest hikes of any larger territory in the world.

But Argentina’s paltry total screen count — 800 screens and languishing, year-end 2011 — pales before Brazil’s (2,373) and especially Mexico’s (5,166). Prime screen play-dates are pretty well covered by studio blockbusters.

There’s little sign, moreover, of Argentina’s exhibition sector growing much in the near future, either, Zupnik said. “Unlike in Chile or many parts of Latin America, there’s little investment in new shopping malls,” he added.

The French honor is “a source of immense satisfaction,” Zupnik enthused. It will also be some source of consolation as Distribution Co. seeks to continue in, for indies, one of the toughest markets in Latin America.

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel,' 'Lego Movie 2' to Lead President's Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” is holding a slim lead ahead of “Lego Movie 2’s” second frame with an estimated four-day take of $29.1 million from 3,790 North American locations. “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” meanwhile, is heading for about $25 million for a domestic tally of around $66 million. The two films lead the pack [...]

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Bruno GanzSwiss Film Award in Geneva,

    Bruno Ganz, Star of 'Downfall' and 'Wings of Desire,' Dies at 77

    Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor best known for dramatizing Adolf Hitler’s final days in 2004’s “Downfall,” has died. He was 77. Ganz died at his home in Zurich on Friday, his representatives told media outlets. The cause of death was reportedly colon cancer. In addition to delivering one of the definitive cinematic portrayals of Hitler, [...]

  • Steve Bannon appears in The Brink

    Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink'

    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it gives him a lift; he drinks it for [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Praise Academy Reversal: 'We Thank You for Your Show of Respect'

    Cinematographers who fought the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations have praised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for reversing the exclusions. “We thank you for your show of respect for the hard-working members of the film community, whose dedication and exceptional talents deserve the public recognition this reversal now allows them to enjoy,” [...]

  • Peter Parker and Miles Morales in

    'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse' Colored Outside the Lines

    The well-worn superhero genre and one of its best-known icons are unlikely vehicles for creating a visually fresh animated feature. But Sony Pictures Animation’s work on the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” shows throwing out the rule book and letting everyone play in the creative sandbox can pay off big. “I think we [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content