MORELIA, Mexico — In Morelia for multiple reasons, outgoing Imcine director general Jorge Sanchez sat with Variety in an exclusive interview to take stock of his tenure, which ends Nov. 30.
Since he joined Mexico’s national film institute on Jan. 14, 2013, Sanchez has presided over a sea-change in Mexico’s entertainment industry. New public and private initiatives have brought a surge in production, for one. “We’ve seen 182 feature-length productions this year; the number of shorts made are innumerable,” said Sanchez, also noting that total admissions have nearly doubled from 75 million in the previous administration to 148 million during his six-year tenure.
Up to Oct. 19, 80 local films bowed in cinemas nationwide, 13 more than the same period last year, he added. In contrast to some countries in Latin America, Mexican moviegoers are coming in droves to support their homegrown films. Local cinema currently has a 10% share of 260 million admissions to date, Sanchez said. This is in stark contrast to 2012 when Mexican cinema captured a 5% share of the 228 million admissions that year, per Imcine statistics.
Seven out the top ten Mexican films this year thus far are comedies led by “Ya Veremos” by Pitipol Ybarra. An animation feature (“La Leyenda del Charro Negro” at number three), a romcom (“A ti te queria encontrar,” no. 8) and a horror film (“El Habitante,” No. 10) make up the rest.
In exhibition terms, Mexican cinemas made the switch from analog to digital and Imcine launched three digital platforms to further broaden the distribution reach of mostly Mexican cinema.
The digital platforms, launched in 2015, are comprised of subscriber-based Filmin Latino that boasts some 1,600 titles; Retina Latina, which offers free VOD titles from Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay; and its most successful site, Cinema Mexico, freely accessible from 800 points, mainly libraries. “We’ve had some one million views so far,” said Sanchez who points out that these libraries are oftentimes the only source of distraction in remote areas, many of which have no cinemas at all.
“We need to distribute our own content and not depend on Netflix or any of the other OTTs,” Sanchez pointed out.
“I deliver a much changed Imcine to my successor,” said the former producer.
Film director Maria Novaro (“Danzon,” “Las Buenas Hierbas”) takes over the reins of Imcine on Dec. 1 when newly elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador assumes the presidency of Mexico.