LOCARNO, Switzerland — The producers hail from far-flung places such as Tel Aviv, Santiago de Chile, Warsaw, Rome, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. But, however disparate their origins, in film industry terms, increasingly, young production companies from Latin America, Europe and the Middle East speak very much the same language.
That much is clear at Locarno’s 3rd Match Me!, the festival’s backbone networking initiative which hosting 19 producers from often young production houses in Brazil, Chile, Israel, Italy, Mexico and Poland, all with “some international experience and interesting line-ups in development,” said Match Me! project manager Markus Duffner.
Since Friday, they have plunged into tailor-made one-to-one meetings with potential co-producers, funds heads, distributors or sales agents at Locarno, talking up their production slates, and engaging in lengthy conversations about their company ambitions which would simply be impossible at far more-pressured events such as Cannes.
“What links Match Me! participants is their vision,” said Duffner. Here are six points which most of the 2017 attendees have in common:
1.Pushing the envelope on film style
Usually bereft of stars or big name directors, one of the only things most productions can have going for them is originality. “We make films that explore the art form of film language,” said Pablo Zimbrón at Mexico’s Malacosa, which is talking up a new project by Yulene Olaizola – whose 2012 “Fogo” played at Cannes Directors Fortnight and is one of the best-known of directors with a project at this year’s Match Me! Paulina Valencia at Mexico’s Spécola said it wants to make films “where keeping track of reality and fiction is extremely difficult, but hypnotizing when done with beautiful imagery and skill.” Donatello Della Pepa, based out of Italy’s Revok, noted it “monitors the continuous transformation of visual language.”
2. $200,000 is the new micro-budget
The average budget of the 51 projects at Match Me! is €657,000 ($781,000). Nearly half come in under €500,000 ($594,000). Many producers are of course just starting out. Their directors – often making their first or second features – are willing to accept the budgetary constraints of their industry calling cards. But these are also vocational young producers. They’re not just in it for the money.
3.On for the long-haul
Many will also spend an inordinate part of their working life on long-haul flights to festivals and markets. This is a resolutely international generation, which looks to co-production abroad. They certainly talk the talk. “Co-creative relationships with international producers “allow us to work with a diversified group of projects, diversifies risk and income streams, and keep an important flow of projects in our pipeline,” Alba Gaviraghi, at Chile’s Agosto Cine, told Variety. They also broaden the talent pool. “I choose to work outside of my country with international directors,” maintained Naama Pyritz at Israel’s Ingenue Production. Co-production also allows producers to carve out an industry niche. Sweden-born Catalina Donoso at Chile’s Cusicanqui Films looks to international markets, yes, but with an emphasis on Scandinavian audiences and co-productions.
4.Ringing the options
Digital disruption, the boom in TV fiction and the emergence of VR have all broadened production options. Many young companies have taken note. “The future is the diversification,” said Giovanni Pompili, at Italy’s Kino Produzioni, who added it was working on projects ranging from film horror to documentaries, from TV series to VR projects. Aggregating revenue across a diverse portfolio, some production houses, provide diverse services for international co-productions, produce web series and offer consulting – as is the case of Izabela Igel at Poland’s Harine Films, Luigi Chimienti at Italy’s Dispàrte and Maria Krauss at Plesnar & Krauss Films in Poland.
5.Drama rules O.K.
Out of the fifty-one projects presented at Match Me! menu, 19 are dramas, 16 documentaries, representing a total 69% of titles. Just five are genre features (including thrillers), four comedies and three animation pics
6.The fascination of contemporary reality
Especially in Latin America, contemporary reality remains too compelling to ignore. “If you’re Brazilian, current social issues are the most interesting thing you can talk about because they are so problematic,” said Matthias Mangin, a director-producer at Igloo Films, who is in Locarno, talking up his new feature, “Barbarian,” about class violence in Brazil. “We focus on films about the relationship between people and their environment,” said Felipe Azúa at Chile’s Avispa Cine. “Our core value is the personal involvement of the director with their ‘object,’ whose inspiration is born from the stories which mark daily life for their real characters,” Anavilhana’s Luana Melgaço, whose slate at Locarno includes “Coiote” (pictured) from Sergio Borges, who made a splash with his debut, “The Sky Above,” a hit on the 2011 festival circuit.
Fernando Sapelli, at Brazil’s Claraluz Filmes, produces both fiction and documentary, “fostering dialogue around relevant social themes.” Similarly, Krauss aims at films “which touch people and change the world, even if it’s only the small world of one person.” Gaviraghi produces a new generation of Chilean filmmakers. All of their projects share “the need to experiment with the link between cinema and reality, and its intersections with today’s society from a critical and reflexive perspective,” she said. Few producers, however, proclaim the need for straight-arrow realism. Alexander de Graaf at Mexico’s Marsupial Media, who is moving “Alicia” – the fourth feature from Cannes Camera d’Or winner Michael Rowe which snagged two project awards at Los Cabos – says he supports an arthouse cinema, “not limited by realism: Our movies should be capable of shaking our imagination and feelings, making you think and feel.”
Match Me! runs Aug. 4-6 in Locarno.
LOCARNO MATCH-ME! 2017 COMPANIES
(company, and one title from its current production slate)
Anavilhana (“Coiote,” Sergio Borges)
Igloo Films (“Barbarian,” Mathias Mangin)
Claraluz Filmes (“The Truth,” Mariana Bastos)
Agosto Cine (“Potential Victim,” Nicolas Guzmán)
Avispa Cine (“Pechofrio,” Carlos Leiva)
Cusicanqui Films (“The Last Thing I See,” Simon Sandquist )
Equeco (“Pepperoni,” Tomás Alzamora)
Daroma Productions (“Mossad,” Alon Gur Arye)
Transfax (“Geula,” Boaz Jonathan Jacob and Joseph Madmoni)
Ingenue Production (“On High Ice,” Gary Byung Seok Kam)
Dispàrte (“Hogar,” Maura Delpero)
Kino Produzioni (“Sole,” Carlo Sironi)
Revok (“Mona,” Grazia Tricarico)
Malacosa (“Tragic Jungle,” Yulene Olaizola)
Marsupial Media (“Alicia,” Michael Rowe)
Spécola (“Sleepwalk,” Ricardo Silva)
Badi Badi (“The Flying Bear: Return of the Guardian,” Tomasz Niedźwiedź)
Harine Films (“Maja and the Ghost,” Eliza Subotowicz)
Plesnar & Krauss Films (“Transfer,” Joanna Rożen)