Berlin European Film Market’s Selects Mexico as First Country in Focus

Focus will highlight coproduction possibilities, Mexico’s doc industry and TV drama production

Matthijs Wouter Knol, Dieter Kosslick, Jorge Sánchez
Courtesy of IMCINE

CANNES — Berlin’s European Film Market is launching a new Country in Focus program, selecting Mexico for its inaugural 2017 edition.

Focus features look set to include a panel, targeting international producers, on Mexican funding, co-production and shoot facilities and a focus on Mexico’s vibrant documentary production, EFM Director Matthijs Wouter Knol told Variety at a Monday evening Cannes Croisette press presentation and cocktail. There will also be a panel discussion on Mexican drama series production at Berlin’s Drama Series Days, running Feb. 13-14.

Carin and Inarritu are working in big series. Netflix and Televisa’s ambitious SVOD service Blim are both producing original series.

The EFM hopes to welcome a large number of producers.

Mexico, as Latin America in general, has had a strong movie presence at the Berlin Festival. As Jorge Sanchez, director of the Imcine Mexican Film Institute reminded the audience at Monday night’s presentation at Cannes, Felipe Casals won a 1976 Silver Bear for “Canoa,” a milestone movie impacting future Mexican filters as Alfonso Cuaron. A young Salma Hayek hit Cannes in 1995 with Jorge Fons’ “Midaq Alley,” also in competition; Mexico won Best First Feature in 2014 (Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Gueros”) and 2015 (Gabriel Ripstein’s “600 Miles”). Mexico’s Imcine Film Institute has been a consistent presence at the EFM.

“For many years now, our relationship with Mexico has been excellent. Sharing this commitment with our Mexican friends from the Imcine at the EFM is a fantastic opportunity to develop our work together even further,” said Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.

The Mexico in Focus initiative is a cultural highlight in the 2016-17 Germany-Mexico Year, also featuring an exchange in the fields of commerce, science and technology.

During the Year, the Berlinale will establish additional partnerships to intensify the Germany-Mexico relationship, he added.

“Collaborating in this way will surely strengthen our good and longstanding relations,” Sanchez added.

The Mexico Country in Focus announcement also comes as Mexico holds strong in Latin America as one of its key filmmaking powers fortified by its diversified state funding lines – channelled through two direct subsidy programs and Efecine 189 tax breaks which have helped power up film production levels to 140 features in 2015, an all-time historical record.

Often now, young Mexican producers can bring more money to the table than their U.S. counterparts. Led by companies such as Canana and Mantarraya, Mexico is ploughing ever more into international co-production, coproducing 40 features in 2015.

“Industry-wise, Mexico has a broad range of talent from newcomers to very established director which has put Mexico on the map at an international level,” said Knol.

The EFM’s “Country in Focus” programme will continue over the next years and so spotlight more countries.

The 2017 EFM will run Feb. 9-17.