‘Wild Tales,’ ‘To Kill,’ ‘Marshland’ Face Off at 2nd Platino Awards

Ibero-American film kudos showcase breadth and depth of current regional production

Wild Tales Cannes 2014

MADRID – Argentine Damian Szifron’s “Wild Tales,” Chilean Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ “To Kill a Man” and Spaniard Alberto Rodriguez’s “Marshland” face off with 54 other candidates in the submission longlist for best film at the 2nd Platino Ibero-American Film Awards, Ibero-America’s highest-profile attempt to date to create a regional Oscars-style kudos ceremony.

Moving from spring to summer, the sophomore Platino Awards will take place on July 18 2015 at Nagueles’ natural outdoor auditorium, once a quarry, in Marbella, on Spain’s southern Andalusia coast. The Platinos kudoscast kicks off the town’s Starlite Festival, a music/fashion event known for its Antonio Banderas charity gala.

CNN’s Juan Carlos Arciniegas and Mexican singer-actress Alessandra Rosaldo will once more m.c. after a successful first outing at the 1st Platino Awards, held in Panama City last April.

Spain’s EGEDA producers rights collection society is once more teaming with FIPCA, the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers, to organize the Platinos. They again enjoy the backing of national Academies and film funding boards.

Co-produced by Argentina’s K & S Films and Pedro and Agustin Almodovar’s El Deseo, “Wild Tales” snagged a Cannes competition berth and an Oscar best foreign-language category nomination. A questioning vengeance thriller, “To Kill” won a Sundance 2014 Grand Jury Prize. From Atipica Cine and Sacromonte Films, “Marshland” swept 10 Spanish Academy Goyas in February.

But, showing that strength-in-depth which saw a one-year-later crop of Latin American movies scoop 23 prizes at February’s Berlinale, the 57 pre-selected titles in contention boast maybe a dozen titles which could walk off with the best picture kudo without most people who have actually seen them batting too much of an eyelid.

In therunning best are eight of the region’s 2015 Oscar submissions: Mexico’s “Cantinflas,” Uruguay’s “Mr. Kaplan,” Cuba’s “Conducta,” Colombia’s “Mateo,” Bolivia’s “Forgotten,” Ecuador’s “Silence in Dreamland,” Venezuela’s “Libertador,” which made foreign-language nine-title shortlist, and Panama’s “Invasion,” pre-selected for the Platinos’ best documentary category.

Best Picture features as well a healthily vast range of films, stretching from Spaniard Carlos Marques-Marcet’s Trans-Atlantic love story “10,000” to “Sand Dollars,” with Geraldine Chaplin on fire as a self-deluding elder woman in love, and Daniel and Diego Vega’s blackly comic Peruvian social allegory “El mudo.”

Also competing: Colombian Oscar Ruiz Navia’s Cali youth portrait “Los Hongos,” Venezuelan Mariana Rondon’s story of nascent sexuality “Bad Hair,” “Escobar, Paradise Lost,” powered by Benicio del Toro’s performance, Lisandro Alonso’s open tale of obsession, paternal love and oblivion “Jauja” with another empowering performance, here from Viggo Mortensen; and “Horse Money,” from Portugal’s Pedro Costa, a phantasmagorical study of a haunted mind, which has sparked critical raves.

Two trends among best picture contenders stand out. Ibero-America’s deep well of new talent shows no danger of running dry. Contenders for the Camilo Vives Best First Feature Ibero-American Fiction Award – named after the genial Cuban producer, producer of “Lucia” and “Strawberry and Chocolate” – look set to include Berlinale Teddy winner “The Way He Looks,” from Brazil’s Daniel Ribeiro,  Carlos Vermut’s genre-blender “Magical Girl,” last year’s San Sebastian Golden Seashell winner; and “A Wolf At the Door,” from Fernando Coimbra, a bold multi-POV drama-thriller which reps one of the best sales titles at Mundial, a Canana-IM Global j.v.

The Platino Awards set out to promote a “brand,” “uniting all Ibero-American cinema with the common aim of its international diffusion,” said a press statement. The emergence of broadcast networks willing to put their huge marketing muscle behind national films – whether Mediaset España and Atresmedia in Spain, Telefonica Studios-backed Telefe in Argentina, or Mexico’s Televisa – has pumped up both box office and audience confidence in national movies, from Spain’s “Spanish Affair” (a extraordinary €55.1 million ($59.2 million) in Spain) and “El Niño” ($17.1 million), Argentina’s “Wild Tales” the country’s highest-grossing national film ever ($17.2 million), or Mexico’s “Perfect Dictatorship” ($12.2 million, though not backed by Televisa) and “Cantinflas” ($8.8 million).

Scaled up by its co-production finance and boosted by a director’s third-feature confidence, “Wild Tales” has broken out to double-digit million dollar box office beyond Argentina, in Spain ($4.9 million), France ($3.0 million) and Germany, for instance. “Cantinflas” bowed in the U.S. last year to become the second highest-grossing foreign-language title of 2014, with a $6.38 million take for Pantelion.

Just how to nurse more Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese films to substantial international B.O. is the next battle to be fought for Ibero-American cinema.

Apart from the Camilo Vives First Fiction Film plaudit, the Platino Awards will add four new categories: Editing, Art Direction, Cinematography and Sound. A Platino Awards exec committee will now whittle down the multiple candidates to a shorter longlist from which an international jury will choose each category’s nominations.

Arciniegas and Rosaldo are welcome back: in Panama City, the Colombian presenter of CNN en Espanol’s Showbiz news seg, co-emceed the 1st Platinos with quiet irony, a foil for the more exuberant singer-actress Rosaldo, actor-director Eugenio Derbez’s wife who made her big-screen debut in “Instructions Not Included,” playing the devious ex-wife’s equally devious lawyer, which allowed for some good-humored running gags with Derbez who was in the Panama City PLatinos audience and up for major prizes.