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Participant PanAmerica launches

Production alliance links Participant Media, Canana, Dynamo, Fabula

In a milestone for Latin American film production, Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media is partnering with three of the region’s highest-profile players — Mexico’s Canana Films, Colombia’s Dynamo and Chile’s Fabula — to create the Participant PanAmerica film fund.

Unveiled Thursday, Participant PanAmerica will develop and co-finance 10-to-12 Spanish-language films over the next five years for, and from, Latin America with Fabula, Dynamo and Canana.

Jonathan King, Participant Media exec VP of narrative production, will lead Participant PanAmerica.

The initiative builds on successful relationships between Participant and all three companies. Participant recently co-financed Canana’s “Chavez,” Diego Luna’s portrait of U.S. civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, and Gael Garcia Bernal starrer “No,” helmed by Fabula partner Pablo Larrain. Funny Balloons sold “No” to 40-plus countries.

Participant Media is in discussions with Dynamo to finance Lluis Quilez’s supernatural thriller “Aguas rojas,” co-produced by Spain’s Apaches Entertainment (“The Impossible”).

“Participant PanAmerica enables us to increase our film output and expand our reach into the dynamic and fast-growing Spanish-speaking market,” said Jim Berk, Participant Media CEO. Via Canana, Fabula and Dynamo, Participant PanAmerica will “have access to the region’s talent pool of fresh and highly creative filmmakers who are looking to explore important contemporary issues in exciting ways,” he added.

Berk said that Participant Media will be the primary financier of Participant PanAmerica and the films produced through it. Canana, Fabula and Dynamo will lead-produce projects via the shingle, co-producing between each other as appropriate.

The alliance will allow the partners to tap into rich resources, such as Mexico’s Article 226 tax incentive and Colombia’s production tax breaks.

Participant will handle U.S. distribution on a title-by-title basis, Berk said.

Participant PanAmerica’s multi-title slate will give it the volume to negotiate multi-country deals beneficial to all partners — for the fast-growing Latin American pay TV market, for example — Berk explained.

Founded by Skoll in 2004 to create content on issues that shape the world, Participant Media has two films screening in Berlin: Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land,” written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and helmer Dan Setton’s documentary “State 194,” about Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s attempt to achieve statehood for the territory.

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