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San Sebastian Film Festival Nurtures Regional Pics Via Co-Prod’n Forum

Festival a key launchpad for Latin American arthouse film projects with crossover ambitions

San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum — now in its second edition — has strengthened the fest’s status as a key launchpad for Latin American arthouse film projects with crossover ambitions.

Victoria Galardi’s femme friendship dramedy “I Thought It Was a Party,” produced by Buenos Aires-based Magma Cine, was a Forum standout last year.

UIP released “Party” in May in Argentina, and it’s playing in San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos sidebar.

“Forum was the starting point of the film, serving to to test its international possibilities,” Magma’s producer Nathalia Videla says.

Toplining Elena Anaya (“Talk to Her”) and Valeria Bertuccelli (“A Boyfriend for My Wife”), the project found a Spanish co-producer — Fernando Trueba’s shingle Fernando Trueba PC — after the forum. Pubcaster TVE has taken Spain’s free-to-air TV rights.

“Participating in a forum like this gives your project quality branding,” says producer Michel Ruben at Dynamo, a partner in Participant PanAmerica.

Last year, Dynamo presented helmer Javier Fuentes-Leon’s psychological thriller “The Vanished Elephant” and Carlos Moreno’s “On With the Music!,” an adaptation of Andres Caicedo’s novel.

“Both titles have crossover potential,” Ruben says, “‘Elephant’ is a noir genre movie; ‘Music’ focuses on young audiences.” “Elephant” will start shooting in Peru this month.

San Sebastian’s ever-wider embrace of Latin America comes as the region gets more government support and a market-driven business model boosted by pay TV sales as the cable sector explodes in South America.

“The challenge is to make movies for more massive audiences without losing artistic quality and an auteur brand,” says Videla.

For Latin American filmmakers, there is a need to know which market they should target, which is related to the fi lms’ financing structures, notes Carnaval Cines’ Arturo Yepez, producer of Sebastian Cordero’s forum-selected “Such Is Life in the Tropics,” his follow-up to sci-fier “Europa Report,” made with U.S. coin and distribution (Magnet Releasing).

In other words, a fi lm made with local subsidies and TV money will most likely deal with local or regional subjects and not travel as well globally as a film that’s an international co-production with an international sales agent.

Peru’s Adrian Saba, whose micro-budget debut “The Cleaner,” won Palm Springs’ 2013 New Voices/New Visions, will present “Donde suenan los salvajes,” a $396,000 budget project about a teen enamored of his Lima gang leader’s sister.

“Salvajes” aims to tap into Peruvian and European film funds. Saba, however, is also market-minded: “It’s important for film to generate returns, and we need to be realistic with the budgets.”

Solita Producciones’ Paz Urrutia, producer of “Nobody Boy,” Chilean Fernando Guzzoni’s next outing after “Dog Flesh” — a San Sebastian’s New Directors winner in 2012 — will search at the forum for a Dutch or German co-producer and a pre-sale to a European TV channel.

“Boy” already has France’s JBA Production as a co-producer. “Given Chile’s small market size, we start searching for international partners from projects’early stages,” she says.

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