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Pay TV, Co-prods Power Up Guadalajara

Market rolls off Latin America’s market build

MEXICO CITY — U.S. and Latin American pay TV and co-production talks drove dealings at Mexico’s Guadalajara Film Market last week — as they do to an increasing extent in Latin America at large.

Mexico’s biggest industry meet, the Film Market also underscored how Mexico’s movie industry is benefiting ever more from U.S.-Mexico initiatives aimed at Latin America at large.

In the latest U.S./Mexico play for Latin American talent and markets — and Guadalajara’s biggest announcement — L.A. and Mexico City-based producer-financier Alex Garcia revealed details of Latam Distribution, a new Mexico City outfit that is distributing Garcia’s productions in Mexico and selling them on to the U.S. Hispanic market and the rest of Latin America.

Like investment fund Participant PanAmerica and sales company Mundial, an IM Global/Canana initiative, Latam zeroes in on the rights value of Latin American movies, in Latam Distribution’s case more specifically in Latin America, one of the fastest growing movie markets in the world.

Challenged now by Netflix, companies working pay TV windows provide much of that build. They made much of the running at Guadalajara.

Pay TV channel Cinelatino, owned by Mexico’s MVS Television, closed a six French-pic package from Pyramide International, including Jeanne Moreau starrer “A Lady in Paris” and Iranian first-timer Massoud Bakhshi’s Teheran corruption thriller “A Respectable Family,” both playing Guadalajara’s International Panorama.

Atlanta-based and U.S. studio-backed LAP TV, which operates Latin American premium channel Moviecity, HBO, Magnolia, Shoreline, Lap TV and Outsider Pictures were prominent among attendees at the Market, where the U.S. boasted by far the biggest industry presence of any foreign industry. More U.S. and Latin American pay TV window deals look set to go down — and sometimes be announced — in upcoming days.

The first deal unveiled at Guadalajara’s Co-production Meeting — and on one of the Meeting’s buzz titles — was Barcelona-based Eddie Saeta’s boarding “Franco’s Night,” from Mexico’s Bernardo Arellano (“Between Night and Day”). Mexico’s Agrupacion Caramelo Cinematografica lead produces, Eddie Saeta, which co-produced Cannes 2010’s Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” has taken a minority equity stake.

“A dark bloody suspense thriller with a tragic finale,” in Arellano’s words, “Franco’s Night” turns on a violent criminal who holes up at a bedraggled hotel, only to fall perilously in love.

Other buzz Guadalajara Market titles included Jose Luis Valle’s “Workers,” which won the fest’s best Mexican pic Mezcal Prize and has closed Switzerland with Trigon-Film. Sales company MPM Film is following up interest in the U.S., and is in advanced negotiations for France, Germany, Benelux and Latin America, said MPM’s Pierre Menahem.

First Work Award winner “So Much Water,” from Uruguays’s Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge — which also scooped a Fipresci nod at Cartagena and the screenplay and Knight Grand Jury Prize at the early-March Miami Fest, which comes with $15,000 for U.S. distribution — has closed Brazil with Providence Filmes and is in discussions for France, Romania, Germany and Sweden, said Virginie Devesa, at sales agency Alpha Violet.

As part of plaudits at pix-in-post competish Guadalajara Construye, Mexico’s Latinofusion offered a $15,000 minimum guarantee for international sales on “The Lamb,” from Chile’s Juan Francisco Olea Simunovic, about a devout man who discovers he has no sense of guilt.

Further GC kudos were shared by “Lamb,” Mexican Max Zunino’s “Los banistas,” a friendship tale between a jobless 65-year-old man and a penniless girl drifter, and Amaia and Aitor Merino’s “Asier and I,” a post ETA-ceasefire docu narrated to camera by the confused and often funny Aitor Merino.

Combined with a swing through Mexico City — many top Mexican producers did not make this year’s meet — Guadalajara is now shaping up as an obvious port-of-call for execs looking to develop business in Mexico.

“With Brazil, Mexico is Latin America’s biggest territory. Its distributors don’t have time for meetings at the AFM, Cannes and Berlin, since they’re focused on negotiating big titles, but you can catch many of them at Guadalajara,” said Film Factory’s Vicente Canales.

As Mexico and Latin America build in importance, that is no longer an anecdotal fact at all.

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