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Toronto: Miami Fest, Related Group Team on New Argentina Fund (EXCLUSIVE)

Miami Film 2016 to offer three grants for film development

As Argentina drives much of Toronto’s early breaking news from Latin America – sales on Pablo Trapero’s “The Clan” and Cesc Gay’s Ricardo Darin starrer “Truman”; a new Lucia Puenzo movie, “Cromo” – the Miami Dade College Miami Int. Film Festival is teaming with The Related Group to launch a new Argentine film fund.

Titled Miami Film 2016, the grant program will award a total $32,500, divided into three cash prizes, to a trio of Argentine film projects in development. These should be helmed by Argentine directors will at least one prior internationally distributed feature film credit. Awards will be made on the basis of project quality and production feasibility. The three winners will be invited to the 33rd Miami Fest, running March 4-13, to receive the award and a retrospective screening of their earlier feature films.

In a novel initiative which will move the program onto the Latin American stage, and add drama to the selection process, the festival team will shortlist up to 10  projects to be take place in a life pitching event during Buenos Aires’ 2015 Ventana Sur, the biggest film market in Latin America, which runs Nov. 30-Dec. 4. A jury of professionals at Ventana Sur will determine the three winning projects. Call for entries runs Sept. 15 – Oct. 31.

The Miami Fest is the U.S.’s preeminent showcase for movies from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, and a new talent platform world premiering first features from across the region. As one of the region’s production powerhouses, which launched a new national cinema at the turn of the century, Argentine movies – such as 2011’s “Chinese Takeaway,” presented by star Ricardo Darin and director Sebastian Borensztein (pictured) – have permeated all its major sections and pix-in-post competition Encuentros.

“Given the outstanding commitment Miami audiences have shown for Argentine films through the Festival’s history, it makes great sense for us, with The Related Group’s phenomenal commitment to aiding artists as part of the essential fabric of urban living, to focus on the filmmakers of Argentina this year,” says Jaie Laplante, Miami Fest’s executive director and director of programming.

He added: “Developing a new project can be one of the longest and most daunting aspects in the process of making a film – our aim is to lend the moral support that comes with financial support at this crucial stage.”

New program follows up Miami and Related’s 2014 program, targeting Cuban filmmakers.

“A core belief of The Related Group is that in order to develop an urban mecca and bolster a positive social environment with a thriving economy, nurturing the arts is a must. We proudly supported up-and-coming Cuban filmmakers during last year’s Festival and look forward to working with a new group of talented Argentine artists,” said Jorge Perez, chairman-founder of The Related Group, and MDC alumnus.

One of the undoubted powerhouses of Latin America, Argentina saw 172 national films released in 2014, vs. 134 for Brazil and 68 for Mexico, up from 121 in 2010, per the European Audiovisual Observatory. Its films also took a remarkable 17.8% market share, thanks to “Wild Tales,” whose 3.4 million tix sales near doubled those of the highest-grossing Hollywood blockbuster, “Frozen” (1.9 million).

Boasting two Academy Award winners – Luis Puenzo’s “The Official Story” and Juan Jose Campanella’s “The Secret in their Eyes,” Argentina’s box office is driven by a super-class of auteurs that enjoy both backing from Telefe/Telefonica Studios and studio distribution.  Companies can look to the INCAA Argentine Film Institute for development coin and Ibermedia, if international co-productions with the rest of Ibero-America. The Miami Fund 2016 fund opens up a valuable source of further development and marketing in a country whose young talent pool shows few signs of drying up.

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