MORELIA, Mexico – MPAA chairman Chris Dodd swung by the Morelia Int’l Film Fest Saturday Oct. 22 to deliver both good news and bad. Paying tribute to the fest and the burgeoning role of Mexican filmmaking in the global marketplace, Dodd began by speaking in fluent Spanish, thanks to his years in the Dominican Republic as a member of the Peace Corps.
Switching to English for the bulk of his speech, he declared: “Mexican cinema is taking the world by storm and that’s not an exaggeration,” citing the Oscar wins and nomimations of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, sound editor Martin Hernandez, and Gabriel Serra Arguello for his work on the Oscar-nommed Mexican docu short, “The Reaper.”
“Mexico’s industry is more robust, more relevant and more successful than ever, delighting audiences not just here at home but around the world,” he said.
Among a list of statistics, he cited that:
1. Mexican cinema has received 367 awards at international film festivals including Berlin, Cannes, San Sebastian and Venice.
2. More than 70,000 people in Mexico work in the film and TV industry, directly and indirectly. Overall, in 2015, the industry added 13.8 billion pesos ($743 million) to the Mexican economy.
3. Mexico ranks as the twentieth largest exporter of creative goods in the world, not just in film and TV; five notches up from just two years ago.
4. Between 2013 and 2015, Mexican films abroad took in more than $100 million, and the potential for growth is limitless considering that there are more than 450 million Spanish-speakers in the world. By 2050, that figure is expected to reach 530 million, and almost a third will live in the U.S.
5. With more than 6,000 screens, Mexico has the greatest infrastructure of digitized movie theaters in Latin America.
6. More than $50 million per year is devoted to film production by its film institute [IMCINE] funding and tax incentive programs. In 2015, 140 films were produced in Mexico, with eight out of every 10 receiving some of form of state financing.
7. The Latin American box office increased 13% last year, the largest single increase in the world, up 31% since 2011. With nearly 12,000 cinemas, Latin America’s is now a $3.4 billion industry.
“The good news is that your industry is thriving. The bad news is that as your success increases, so do the stakes,” said Dodd. Making movies “is an art form but it’s also a business,” he said.
“Intellectual copyright protection is a major concern. Without copyright, the Morelia Film Festival simply would not exist,” he said, adding: “filmmakers, television producers – and all who work on their productions – would have no incentive and no compensation for creating their works of art and entertainment.”
The MPAA and Mexico have taken steps to counteract piracy, among them:
1. Working closely to negotiate and implement trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), that includes provisions on content protection and breaks down trade barriers such as quotas, tariffs and taxes.
2. The creation of new legal online distribution services worldwide, of which some 400 are active. Mexico has 14 legal digital platforms, among them Netflix, ClaroVideo, Blim and FilminLatino.
3. In 2015, Mexico created the Digital IP Crime Unit to investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes.
4. Warning notices in cinemas.
5. Joint efforts by the Federal Police, particularly the Scientific Police and its cybercrime prevention unit to combat online piracy, including the recent seizure of kickass.mx torrent web site, the most widely-used illegal site in Mexico.
“I believe that if we work together to ensure the future of Mexico’s film and television industry, and the hardworking people who labor in it, the unrivalled success you’re enjoying today will continue for the next generation of talented Mexican filmmakers,” he concluded.