BUENOS AIRES – Adding another block to Panama’s rapid build as an industry force in Central America, the Panama Film Festival is adding a Latin American Co-production Market, Meets, with a $25,000 cash prize for the winner.

Panama Film Commissioner Arianne Benedetti will serve as director of Meets, which runs April 6-9.

Made Thursday at the Ventana Sur Latin American film market, the announcement of Meets comes just one day after Spanish rights collection society EGEDA and FIPCA, the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers announced they will hold the first Platino Ibero-American Film Awards at Panama City’s Teatro Anayansi  on April 5 during the Panama Festival, an event which should see a gaggle of high-profile Latino producers and creative talent coming into the fest.

Added to plans to launch a brand new studio complex first half of 2014, plus tax breaks – 25% for Panamanian productions or co-productions, 15% of local spend for foreign shoots, Meets strengthens Panama’s push to emerge as the central hub for movie production in a fast multiplexing Central America.

Per Benedetti, Meets will highlight five Panamanian feature projects and seven from the rest of Latin America. All projects should be fiction features, and in the final stages of development, with a completed screenplay, director attached and assigned budget.

A four-person industry jury will chose the winner which will have production values and good commercial potential, including the promise of selling over the world, Benedetti said,

“Meets will contribute to Panama’s international position as the ideal place for development and film production. Panama is a country blessed with a strategic geographical location and a growing film industry supported by a new Film Law and an international film industry and showing good heath and making advances.

The call for submissions runs Dec. 10-Jan. 18.  Selected projects will be announced at the MIAMI film Festival in mid-March.

Meets is also backed by Panama’s Ministry of Commerce. The 3rd Panama Int’l Film Festival runs April 3-9.