Ventana Sur: 10 Things About This Year’s Market

From the big new titles to Thierry Fremaux, pix-in-post standouts, the market’s high-caliber exec TV meet, muscularly fortified Animation! section, and Mar del Plata holdovers

Ventana Sur: 10 Points on the
Lila Avilés

BUENOS AIRES — Ventana Sur, by far Latin America’s biggest movie-TV market, unspools its ninth edition this week in the Argentine capital over Nov. 27 to Dec. 1. Here Variety’s market-eve 10-point update on key films, events.


Are foreign markets, like Hollywood, now suffering from a high-end TV diaspora? As more big-name foreign-language directors and actors are swallowed up by upmarket TV, the number of big high-profile Latin American movies coming to the market looks to be at an increasing premium. A clutch will be talked up or shooting during Ventana Sur, however: Pablo Trapero’s “La Quietud,” a sisters’ drama with Bérénice Bejo and Martina Gusmán; “You Shall Not Sleep,” from “Casa Muda’s” Gustavo Hernández, a Fox pick-up for U.S. and Latin America; Ricardo Darin’s “Love at Last Chance,” a second-chance romance; construction skullduggery thriller “Dark Buildings.” One more big Argentine title may well be added to the mix during Ventana Sur. But one of the biggest titles of all from home territory Argentina unveiled in the run-up to the market, stars a cow: Animated feature “Escape to India,” produced by Juan José Campanella (“The Secret in Their Eyes”), directed by Gaston Gorali and with songs by Cris Morena as animation fires up at Ventana Sur as now one of its heavyweight offers.


Introduced by Bérénice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius’ “Redoubtable” screens at the Cannes Festival Film Week, curated and presented by Thierry Fremaux, which runs parallel to Ventana Sur over Nov. 27-Dec. 3. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless,” Fatih Akin’s “In the Fade,” Robin Campillo’s “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” introduced by lead Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, also play, along with “Good Time,” from Benny and Josh Safdie, and Valeska Grisebach’s “Western.” On a whistle-stop tour of Mar del Plata, Córdoba and Buenos Aires, Thierry Fremaux, also director of Lyon’s Institut Lumière, presented “Lumière!” a feature omnibus collection of restored Lumière shorts from classics to the near-unknown. In Buenos Aires on Saturday, after “Lumiére” presentation, Fremaux was mobbed by attendees asking him to sign copies of “Sección Oficial,” the Spanish -language version of his chronicle of one year and ten days running Cannes. He spent half a hour signing copies.

Many people have a second country. Fremaux’s is Argentina, where he lived in 1983. He has now become part of its popular culture. There’s a bigger picture. For decades, Argentina looks to France as a film model and ally, liking to think that in some ways it is nearer to Europe than many parts of Latin America; which may of course be true. Ventana Sur is one instance of Franco-Argentine co-operation, launched by the Cannes Festival and Film Market and INCAA Argentine Film-TV Institute. It may only be time before other alliances follow.


Celebrating inaugural first edition in 2009, Ventana Sur was first a sales market for Latin American films, and soon a co-production meet, as hundreds of young Latin American producers descended on the event to find production partners in and outside the region. Ventana Sur now fires on multiple cylinders: Movies, genre, TV, animation and VR. “The locomotive is clearly the Latin America feature films, with its Blood Window [genre] component, but the sidebars – European screenings, Trends, Animation!, TV – bring new participants and enlarge the network and possibilities of encounters,” says Cannes Film Market’s Jerome Paillard, Ventana Sur co-director with Bernardo Bergeret, INCAA head of international affairs.


Ventana Sur’s heart, for sales agent and distrib attendance, remains its Primer Corte and Copia 0 pix-in-post showcases. Of its titles, there’s buzz on Lila Avilés’ “The Chambermaid,” a drama on a woman’s search for sense of self, and Jorge Navas’ “Buenaventura: Mon Amour (Somos Calentura),” with new co-producers boarding both; and large curiosity about gritty Peru Callao port-set “We’re All Sailors,” from Cannes Cinefondation alum Miguel Angel Moulet and Chile’s out-there “Perros sin cola.” Unseen or little-seen movies screening at Ventana Sur include Basque-set period thriller “Cuando dejes de quererme,” directed by Igor Legarreta and produced by Cepa Audiovisual, and Santiago Caicedo’s 2D B & w coming-of-age drama “Virus Tropical,” seen at the Animation is Film Festival.


As series shorten, and OTT blooms, and Viacom has acquired Telefe, one of the growth drivers of the Latin American new TV wave is “investments and co-productions from international groups,” says Bertrand Villegas, co-founder of the Wit research agency. Many — HBO, Fox, Sony, Disney, Viacom (via Telefe), and Time Warner’s TNT — will meet at Ventana Sur’s TV-based Fiction Factory to network with local producers and here pitched. But the story’s broadened. One panel session will see newest generation players, whether Amazon or Google or production sales house Federation Ent., explain their interest in Argentine fiction. Also featuring key local players like Underground, Pol-ka Producciones and The Magic Eye, the lineup, if like 2016’s Who’s Who of Latin TV companies, will be highly impressive.


The biggest step-up of any section in Ventana Sur’s 2017 edition may come with Animation! Campanella (“Escape to India”) and Walter Salles (“Noah’s Ark”), two of Latin America’s biggest directors, produce pitched projects; the section has added a work-in-progress showcase; some titles segue to Annecy. Another project, “Grimalkin,” is from the makers of “Un gallo con mucho huevos,” the sixth-highest-grossing foreign-language release in the U.S. since 2013. Ventana Sur unspools as another Latin American animated feature, “Condorito,” topped B.O. charts over October in Peru, Chile and Colombia, beating the best of Hollywood. Given Latin America’s family-based audience mix, and even now an Andean animation school, animation has large potential in the region.


Grossing $683 million worldwide, “It” is directed by an Argentine, Andy Muschietti. Latin American genre, like animation, is a push phenomenon, embraced by new generation of Latino moviemakers. Blood Window, Ventana Sur’s genre division, bows this year with a new prize — the Best Latin American Fantastic Film of the Year Award, to be awarded by the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation — and a clutch of anticipated projects which see women directing chillers (such as “El Muglar,” from Emmy-nominated writer-director Lucila Las Heras), and the ramp-up, as in France, of low-fi sci-fi, such as Spaniard David Casademunt’s “The Beast,” a virtual reality horror-thriller. Talked up BWIP Blood Window pix in post screenings include Argentine Gonzalo Calzada’s “Luciferina” and Chava Cartas’ “The Tenants,” backed by all-powerful Mexican distributor Videocine. Again, even closer links between Europe and Latin America’s fantastic movie communities seem likely.


The first Best Latin American Fantastic Film of the Year will be unveiled at Ventana Sur. Unspooling April 6-7 in the Canary Islands’ Tenerife, and boasting a co-production forum and congress, the Quirino Ibero-American Animation Awards will also see their first presentation in South America at the Buenos Aires Market


How on earth do we monetize all this? That question will still float over 2017’s 2nd Trends. In other way, however, like Animation!, the section has grown- Conceived as an annual meet for Latin America’s immersive industries, the 2nd Trends, will showcase 12 projects, up 40% on 2015, hailing from Latin America, the U.S. and Spain. It has also broadened its brief to take in VR vid-games. Trends will also showcase Argentine webseries. Attendees include the Canadian Film Centre and French-German broadcaster Arte, and panelists take in Venice Festival director Alberto Barbera who will discuss how Venice became the first “A-grade” festival to create a VR section.


Argentina’s Mar del Plata Festival, Latin America’s only “A-grade” film event, wrapped Saturday night. So synergies with Ventana Sur are inevitable and welcome. In industry terms, it serves as both a platform for on-the-rise Argentine talent and, via its Film.Ar industry umbrella, an ambitious development initiative for Argentine, Latin American and Latin-Arab world fiction features and documentaries. Having bowed or pitched at Mar del Plata, some titles will now be moved at Ventana Sur. Standouts at Mar del Plata were all small art films, low-budget genre movies or first or second time feature projects. That said, look out for, of new Argentine movies, Gustavo Biazzi’s last summer of youth drama “The Bums,” Nicolas Torchinsky’s “The Centaur’s Nostalgia,” a meticulous aged gaucho docu portrait, crowdpleaser “Primas,” Demián Rugna’s shockfest “Terrified” and “To the Desert,” Ulises Rosell’s big canvas abduction thriller come kind of love story. Another way into upcoming Argentine movies is to catch the promo reel of the PCI Assn. of Argentine Directors, which screens at Ventana Sur on Tuesday.