Argentina’s Mar del Plata Fest Changes Dates

First-half 2015 Argentine box office soars to modern-day record as national cinema awaits ‘The Clan,’ ‘Truman,’ ‘The King of Once’

Paulina Cannes Critics Week
Courtesy of Semaine de la Critique Cannes

MARBELLA, Spain — Argentina’s Mar del Plata Festival, Latin America’s only “A” grade fest event, has moved forward to an early November berth, running Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 this year, Lucrecia Cardoso, president of Argentina’s INCAA Film Festival, confirmed Saturday at the second Platino Awards.

Approved by the Intl. Federation of Film Producers Assns., (FIAPF), the film festival regulator, the change is to avoid a clash with potential second-round voting in Argentina’s upcoming general elections, she added.

Celebrating its 30th edition in 2015, Mar del Plata moved last year to a later date, just one week before early December’s Ventana Sur, running Nov. 22-24. That allowed the fest, which was graced by the presence of Viggo Mortensen and Paul Schrader and saw a hike in attendance to around 130,000 in ticket sales, to begin to spark synergies with Latin America’s premier film mart: Mar del Plata’s Work in Progress took place only three days before Ventana Sur, for instance.

The Mar del Plata Festival will once more host Argentina’s Encuentro de Comunicacion Audiovisual (ECA), an annual meet which debates the future of Argentina’s film/TV biz. This year it will also see a FIAPF board meeting.

Mar del Plata has yet to announce its industry activities, which may well build on its successful Work in Progress event, or, as it 2015 dates half clash with the American Film Market, potential links with Ventana Sur.

Backed by Argentina’s powerful INCAA state film-TV agency, which co-launched Ventana Sur with the Cannes Festival and Film Market in 2009, Mar del Plata is also building as a springboard for young Argentine talent at a time when Argentina is producing a clutch of the most ambitious movies to come out of Latin America, such as Damian Szifron’s “Wild Tales,” which swept the Platino Awards on Saturday, and now Pablo Trapero’s “The Clan,” which bows Aug. 13 in Argentina, plus Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama.”

Argentina is also emerging as an en energetic international co-producer not only with Europe but also the rest of Latin America. In Marbella, Cardoso pointed out that over 2009-14, more than 50% of INCAA-backed films, via its main subsidy lines, were international co-productions, linking up with 24 countries in total.

Awaiting some of its biggest 2015 plays – “The Clan,” Cesc Gay’s “Truman,” Daniel Burman’s “King of the Once” – Argentine films’ domestic market share to date this year is around 11%, thanks to adolescence-themed “Abzurdah,” “No Kids,” Santiago Mitre’s Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Paulina” — which has notched up 108,508 admissions, three times the trawl for his debut, “The Student,” four years ago — and “Socio por accidente.” Argentina punched 25 million admissions in the first-half of 2015, a record since 1986, Cardoso said.

This year’s national film share might not break Argentina’s 2014 17.8% modern record, driven by “Wild Tales,” but should be significantly up on the average for years before 2013 when Argentina’s national share rose to 15%, she observed.

“Argentina’s production section is growing, and making films at a higher scale and ambition,” she added, by way of explanation.

Mar del Plata’s “A”-grade status points in popular parlance to its being one of FIAPF’s 15 fests — along with most, but not all, the biggest festivals in the world such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice — which are accredited by FIAPF as competitive feature film festivals.