In international, every territory is its own story and that includes arthouse markets — but patterns emerge. In some parts of Latin America, such as Mexico and Colombia, arthouse audiences may be growing, though from a low base. The key: Dedicated arthouse/alternative circuit construction, and support from major exhib circuits. Many, but not all, European markets suffer diminishing youth attendance and TV sales.
Big hits can be spectacular, including “Beauty and the Beast” for Peru’s Delta and Cine Colombia’s “La Famille Belier.” Individual initiatives are encouraging: ABC Cinemien’s monthly LGBT night creates an event out of theatrical attendance. One problem for Latin American movies in Europe is that they are frequently not European films. Euro titles, in contrast, far more often tap Euro distribution awards. But Latin American films will always have Paris. The surprise isn’t that Brazil’s Tucuman Films has set up a French distribution op there, but that other Latin American distributors haven’t done so before.
Buyers: Nicolaine Den Breejen, Babette Wijntjes, Annemiek de Jong
Recent acquisitions: “Club Sandwich,” “Praia do Futuro,” “The Way He Looks”
A classic indie, launched 1974, acquiring all rights to about 20 arthouse titles a year, often new director movies, ABC-Cinemien is a selective Latin American buyer. That said, it has seen new success moving into event distribution since 2014, screening titles — Karim Ainouz’s “Praia do Futuro,” Berlin Teddy winner “The Way He Looks,” among Latin American movies — at a once monthly Gay Night held at 15 Dutch screens before they segue immediately to DVD/VOD in Netherlands and Belgium. “Distributors and theaters are more aware of Latin American cinema, audiences less so,” says Wijntjes. Very high-profile accessible fest titles, such as Chilean Berlin lead actress winner “Gloria” can work well, she adds.
Buyers: Luis Apolinario and Hugo Lopes
Recent acquisitions: “Louder Than Bombs,” “Marguerite,” “The Act of Killing,” “Grand Central,” “Bethlehem”
Almabique looks for quality over quantity. From last year’s Cannes competition, it acquired Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy.” This year it has picked up Joachim Trier’s Norwegian entry, “Louder Than Bombs.” The company is particularly strong on documentaries. More recent Latin American releases include from Brazil Marcelo Machado’s documentary “Tropicália” and Cao Hamburger drama, “Xingu,” from Chile, Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria” and Pablo Larrain’s foreign-lingo Academy Award nominated “No.”
Buyers: Munir Falah, Pia Barragan
Recent acquisitions: “La Famille Belier,” “13 Minutes,” “Timbuktu,” “Taxi”
Founded in 1927, and Colombia’s first multiplexer, Cine Colombia is a the country’s distribution-exhibition giant with a 46% theatrical market share, output deals with Warner Bros. and Fox and a huge sweep of indie pickups. It scored a storming success with Eric Lartigau’s “La Famille Belier,” racing to 550,000 admissions, very rare for a French movie in Colombia. “The film’s message was just superb: We wanted Colombians to see it,” says president-CEO Munir Falah. Colombia is not an easy market for non-English European films, he adds. But, seeking one solution, Cine Colombia has created a dedicated arthouse distribution arm, owns one arthouse multiplex in Bogota and is constructing a second in Cali.
Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia
Buyer: Roberto Lococo
Recent acquisitions: “Silence,” “Automata,” “The Little Prince”
Lima-based Delta Films was founded in 1990 and handles theatrical and home entertainment distribution for Peru, normally extending the purchase to take in Ecuador and Bolivia. The company handles a mix of genres from family entertainment through drama and horror. Delta arrives in Cannes on the back of a big hit with Christophe Gans’ “Beauty and the Beast.” Per UniFrance, it attracted over 100,000 spectators in its first two weeks to become the most seen French-language film in Peruvian theaters in over five years, surpassing “The Intouchables,” also released by Delta. “Beast” was released on 43 screens; major Hollywood blockbusters in Peru normally go out on around 60.
Buyer: Daniel Chabannes
Recent acquisitions: “The Sky of the Centaur,” “Nobody Is Watching,” “The Student”
Co-producing films like 2015 Bafici Fest opener “The Sky of the Centaur,” from Argentine legend Hugo Santiago and Julia Solomonoff’s upcoming “Nobody Is Watching” or via straight acquisitions, Epicentre, founded in 1994, has hit some notable highs. It’s thanks in part to some films’ enrollment in a Spanish-language schools’ program: Juan Carlos Cremata’s “Viva Cuba” sold 71,000 tix in France. Chabannes has an eye and passion for new talent: He bought Santiago Mitre’s “The Student,” Mexican Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s “Alamar,” both cult items, and created an Epicentre Films cash prize at Bafici’s BAL, won in 2015 by Chilean Roberto Doveris’ buzzed-up “The Plants.” France’s challenge? Huge competition from weekly slews of new arthouse releases. “It is very difficult to find screens, even more difficult to keep them,” Chabannes says.
Buyer: Jean-Thomas Bernardini
Recent acquisitions: “The Valley of Love,” “The Anarchists,” “Amnesia”
Founded in 1989, Brazil’s most prolific buyer of accessible and usually European auteur titles, acquiring from Wild Bunch, the Match Factory and many others, Imovision has already pre-bought nearly 10 Cannes 2015 titles, says France-born Bernardini. Brazil’s screen-count has increased but not for art pics, he maintains. He’s happy to have a 30-location release on titles, he adds. So, having moved into exhibition bowing Sao Paulo’s Reserva Cultural in 2006, Bernardini will open a second five-screen arthouse this November.
Look Now! FilmDistribution
Buyer: Bea Cuttat
Founded in 1988, Zurich-based, and buying for all Switzerland, Look Now! is in a double-sense an auteur distribution house. It purchases films from the filmmakers Cuttat loves and remains faithful to Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas. Also, says Cuttat: “I buy films that I like. I’m at an age when I can’t change my preferences. We’re known in Switzerland as the one distributor that never looks at commercial movies.” Reygadas’ “Japon” was “a big success.” “Switzerland is famous for its arthouse market.” But young adult auds cold-shoulder art films. Broadcasters are buying less in volume, and focusing on more accessible titles.
Buyer: Jaime Romandia, Leonardo Cordero
Recent acquisitions: “45 Years,” “Victoria,” “Leviathan”
A joint distribution venture of Carlos Reygadas’ No Dream Cinema and producer partner Jaime Romandia’s Mantarraya Producciones, ND Mantarraya snagged Mexican rights last year to seven Cannes kudos winners among a 12-title acquisition trawl. That in turn reflects the relative vibrancy of Mexico’s arthouse scene, based on alternative circuit and commercial cinema theater exhibition. “The Mexican arthouse market is definitely growing. Exhibitors are giving more space to this type of content,” says distribution director Leonardo Cordero. Launching Mexico City and Paris-based sales company NDM in 2012, Mantarraya can now ring its options: It not only buys for Mexico but can also sell worldwide as on “Li’l Quinquin” from France’s Bruno Dumont.
Buyer: Priscila Miranda
Recent acquisitions: “Sand Dollars,” “The Other Side of Paradise,” “The Telescope of Time”
Launching 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, distributing European and Latin American movies — “Jealousy,” “Playing Dead” — Tucuman Films is setting up shop in Paris to distribute movies in France from Brazil and the rest of Latin America. Tucuman bows in France this August with Geraldine Chaplin starrer “Sand Dollars.” Move allows Tucuman to open films that incomprehensibly haven’t scored a French deal: Annecy 2013 winner “Rio 2096,” for instance, or Eryk Rocha’s “Sunday Ball.” “France is very open to Latin American films. They can sell three times as many tickets in France than in Brazil, and that even applies to Brazilian releases,” says Tucuman’s Priscila Miranda.
Buyers: Carlos Pascual, Marian Marx
Recent acquisitions: “How Strange to Be Named Federico,” “Longwave,” “Tabu”
Created in 2000, Zeta Films acquires classic fest winners (“Winter Sleep,” “Goodbye to Language”), cult items (“Fifi Howls From Happiness”) and left-of-field entries (“Alamar”). Europe and drama make up 75% of purchases. Argentine box office has powered up recently. But arthouse receipts have fallen, says Pascual: “A film that once sold 20,000-30,000 tickets now sells 12,000. Cannes 2014 Palme d’Or winner ‘Winter Sleep’ scored just 8,000 admissions in Argentina. Beyond Incaa TV, TV sales are meager. What Argentina desperately needs is dedicated arthouses so that art pics do not have to compete with mainstream hits for multiplex screens.”
“The Anarchists” is pictured.