SAN SEBASTIAN – Panama’s MEETS Latin American Co-production Forum and the Toulouse CineLatino Festival struck a strategic project exchange alliance.

The accord sees one Central American or Caribbean project from MEETS, a co-pro forum taking place during the Panama Festival, being selected for Toulouse’s Cine en Desarrollo, a co-pro hub, and a Toulouse project, perhaps drawn from the French Caribbean, traveling to MEETS. MEETS has just opened its call for projects for its second edition next April.

Toulouse will make a call for projects from the French Caribbean where feature production is highly limited and many filmmakers forced to emigrate.

MEETS will invite five projects from Panama, three from Central America and the remaining projects from Latin America.

The alliance comes as Panama, which is enjoying one of the biggest GDP growths of any country in Latin America, is energetically creating the infrastructure of a developed national film industries and the Panama Festival is emerging as the highest-profile international film event in Central America.

In the latest move, the Panama Festival will launch next April its first own Works in Progress, run by fest director Pituka Ortega Heilbron and Toronto programmer Diana Sanchez. Panama’s WIP will target productions from Central America, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti, said Ortega Heilbron.

Panama has also just announced its first Oscar submission, Abner Benaim’s “Invasion,” which world preemed at the Panama Festival.

Toulouse’s CineLatino Fest teamed with the San Sebastian Fest to launch Films in Progress in 2001. Toulouse’s industry platforms have grown via collaboration with other festivals or institutions: Toulouse’s Cine en Desarollo is partnered by Cannes Festival’s Cinéfondation, Morelia Lab and Br Lab.

“Panama has great network relations in its region. It’s very important to support projects selected in Latin American events and more reach to projects presented in Europe, to welcome more people from Latin America who can network,” said Eva Morsch Kihn, Toulouse’s industry platforms head.

The 2015 Toulouse CineLatino Festival runs March 19/29, 2015; the Panama Festival April 9-15.