CANNES — Separated by just a three-hour short-haul flight, Argentina and Chile have both looked in the past to France and Spain to top up films’ finance via co-production.

That may now be changing. After film finance plunged in Spain, and as Latin American producers yearn ever more to make movies seen elsewhere in the region, Argentina and Chile film authorities are at last turning to each other.

Launched at Cannes, both will plow $100,000 into an Argentina-Chile bilateral co-production fund financing two titles a year. Inked by the National Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute of Argentina (INCAA) and Chile’s Arts and Audiovisual Industry Council (CNCA), the Chile-Argentina fund will launch its first call for applications in June.

Fund’s endowment may look slight. But, as movies for both countries cover much of their budgets via direct national public subsidies, Ibermedia – an Ibero-American co-pro fund – and dedicated finance sources such as the Berlin Fest’s World Cinema Fund, the bilateral fund can rep at least a large chunk of a movie’s completion finance.

The Argentina-Chile co-pro agreement has as its model the already up-and-running Brazil-Argentina co-production fund, said INCAA’s Bernardo Bergeret. The new fund has been greeted with “fantastic enthusiasm,” he added.

Chile-Argentina co-productions do exist. One of the latest is Pablo Larrain’s Participant Media-backed “Neruda,” a Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit. Less produced by Chile’s Fabula, its multiple co-producers include Argentina’s AZ Films and Telefe-Telefonica Studios.

“Chile already co-produces quite a lot with Argentina but Argentina film authorities have been much more receptive to backing minority co-productions with state subsidies than Chile’s have,” said Chilean producer Giancarlo Nasi, at Don Quijote Films.

Fund is also a multiplier: Now a minority Chilean co-production with Argentina which wins the bilateral fund coin can hope to tap the fund’s $100,000 grant, subsidies from both Chile and Argentina and Ibermedia funding.

Move comes as Chile-Argentina market crossover remains slight, despite a clutch of co-productions. According to a study by international film promotion org CinemaChile, “Global Audiences of Chilean Cinema,” Chilean cinema performs better as World Cinema than as a Spanish-language movie industry. For 2013, the latest date for which figures are available, more people in Turkey saw Chilean films than in Argentina, the 12th biggest foreign market for Chilean movies.

“If films are more attractive for both countries, they should have a better chance of making more box office” argued Nasi, who is close to announcing his first co-pro with Argentina.

Brazil and Argentina opened a call for applications for their 2016 bilateral co-production fund, targeting four co-productions, two minority Argentinean, and adjudicating a $250,000 grant to each project in the quartet.

Furthered by co-production, the distribution of Latin American movies in Latin America outside their country of origin is one large industry challenge. Another is scoring a cinema theatre release, especially for non-popcorn fare. INCAA announced at Cannes a France-Argentina seminar on Exhibition, Cultural Action and Audience Creation, scheduled for June 7-10.

The three-day workshop will see specialists explaining the French support and promotion system, including educational initiatives, which has given France the largest network of art cinemas in Europe and its largest audience for speciality movies. Argentina’s INCAA, for its part, announced plans last December for a network of 45 digitalised screens across Latin American specialising in Latin American movies.

Also at Cannes, Caci, the umbrella org of Ibero-American state film-TV agencies, inked a co-operation agreement with the Latin American Film Commission Network (LAFCN), opening the door to Caci member funding of the LAFCN.