×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

IFF Panama Discusses Distribution of Central American and Caribbean Films

Fest included panel on VOD opportunities in Latin America

PANAMA CITY — One of the biggest challenges facing filmmakers from  Central America and the Caribbean is how to release their films in neighboring countries.

This is a problem facing Latin American cinema as a whole, but in larger countries such as Mexico, Argentina or Portuguese-speaking Brazil, the home territory is sufficiently large to achieve significant box office revenues.

In Central America, the countries have small populations and limited domestic funding opportunities, which can be asphyxiating for local filmmakers.

Two Panamanian features are planning multi-territory releases in 2018 – Abner Benaim’s “Ruben Blades is Not my Name” and Arturo Montenegro’s “Frozen in Russia.” This year’s Primera Mirada pix-in-post sidebar also included the omnibus film “Days of Light” which involves six Central American countries, and will be released across the region.

IFF Panama’s industry events attract an increasing number of festivals, distributors and sales agents, which this year included the Tribeca Film Institute, Toronto, Havana, Berlinale, FiGa Films, Pacifica Grey, Habanero Film Sales, Weisner Distribution, and OpenReel.

“Each country has a very different market. Puerto Rico is a very open market, Costa Rica is a really good market for independent movies, but several other markets are very closed,” suggests Cynthia Wiesner, CEO of Puerto Rico’s Wiesner Distribution.

Wiesner says that the outlook for independent distributors has changed radically over the last 15 years. DVD used to be a huge market but has collapsed, and even cinema-going is now under threat to competition from streaming platforms such as Netflix. She adds that the recent closure of Bernardo Zupnik’s Distribution Company – one of Argentina’s biggest film distributors – highlights the problems facing the sector.

“It’s becoming very difficult. I’m creating events, such as Spanish film weeks, in Puerto Rico which can generate up to 100,000 admissions. Now I’m planning to do the same in Panama and the Dominican Republic.”

Marcelo Quesada, CEO of distributor Pacifica Grey, who was also director of the Costa Rica Film Festival in 2015-16, says that niche independent distribution opportunities are actually growing.

He can now release five-to-six films per year, but with modest admissions of 2,000-5,000 tickets sold per film. “We have an honest boutique approach. The numbers are small compared to other regions, but we’re trying to build for the future.”

Quesada says that a new generation of directors is emerging in Central America, including talented women filmmakers who he thinks will make waves in the near future, citing directors such as Gloria Carron (“Heiress of the Wind”), Sophia Queiroz (“Selva”) and Valentina Maurel (“Paul is Here”).

Paula Gastaud, head of acquisitions of Brazilian content aggregator, Sofa Digital, gave a panel on VOD opportunities in Latin America.

She suggested that VOD offers tremendous potential to foster the circulation of Latin American films, and although the Latin American VOD market is only 10% the size of the U.S. market it has one of the world’s fastest growth rates, with 12% growth forecast between 2017-20.

Sofa Digital runs the filmmelier streaming platform in Brazil, which had 3 million users over Jan.-March 2018 and has just launched a beta version in Mexico. Gastaud provided a case-study of the social media release strategy of recent Brazilian hit, “The Movie of My Life.”

Javier Martin, a programmer at the Berlinale, says that festivals play a key role in this evolving landscape: “Central American cinema is increasingly important but it’s always difficult to find a place to meet people. The Cinergia program used to be the meeting-point. Now it’s Panama.”

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    'Alita' Inching Past 'Lego Movie 2' at Presidents Day Weekend Box Office

    James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel” has a slight edge over “The Lego Movie 2” in a tight race for domestic box office supremacy during Presidents Day weekend. Both are aiming for about $27 million, early estimates showed on Friday. The two titles are the only current bright spots as overall moviegoing for 2019 trails far [...]

  • Ludwig Goransson Black Panther Composer

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Scores

    Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land [...]

  • Oscars Best Song Nominees

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Songs

    This year’s crop of Oscar-nominated songs may be the most diverse in years: a ballad and a pop-rap from two of the year’s biggest films, plus a delicate lullaby from a Disney musical, a political themed anthem, and a novelty tune for singing cowboys. “Shallow,” the top-10 hit from “A Star Is Born,” is widely [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    All Oscar Categories to Air Live After Hollywood Protest

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reversed its controversial decision to hand out four Oscars during the telecast’s commercial breaks. Following a Thursday night meeting with top cinematographers, Academy leadership including president John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson have pledged to air every awards category on the live show a week from [...]

  • Academy Awards preparation 2017

    Cinematographers Hopeful That Academy Will Reverse Oscarcast Exclusions

    Cinematographers who are opposing the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations on the telecast have said a “productive” Thursday night meeting with Academy brass may lead to a reversal of the exclusions. American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum said in a letter to members Friday that he expects a decision by the end [...]

  • Oscars: Resistance to the Rescue

    Oscars: Resistance to the Rescue

    When “The Dark Knight” failed to secured a best picture Oscar nomination, the snub was said to have prompted the Academy to expand the category from five nominees to as many as 10. A decade later, maybe out of fear that something similar might happen again to the immensely popular “Black Panther,” the Academy announced [...]

  • Chris Evans attends the "Lobby Hero"

    Chris Evans' Action Film 'The Red Sea Diving Resort' Bought by Netflix

    Netflix has bought global rights, excluding China, to Chris Evans’ action-thriller “The Red Sea Diving Resort” for release later this year. Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michiel Huisman, Greg Kinnear, and Ben Kingsley also star. “The Red Sea Diving Resort” is directed by “Homeland” creator Gideon Raff from his own script. Raff had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content