German world sales company Media Luna has snagged international sales rights to Dominican helmer-scribe Jose Maria Cabral’s latest film, “The Projectionist.”
Cabral is best known for his 2017 acclaimed prison-set drama “Woodpeckers” (“Carpinteros”), the first Dominican film to compete at the Sundance Film Festival and the country’s official submission to the 90th Academy Awards’ foreign language film category. In 2012, Cabral’s kidnapping drama, “Checkmate,” represented the country at the Oscars.
Now in post, “The Projectionist” turns on a man who spends many lonely hours operating a projector. His only solace is a woman he sees on a film reel. After an accident with the projector destroys his only connection to her, he travels deep into the remotest and poorest parts of the Dominican Republic to find her.
“José María Cabral is confirming his talent with a maturity that is just impressive,” said Media Luna CEO Ida Martins who closed the deal in Cannes. “We’re ecstatic to work for the success of this timeless and original film that will officially rank the director among one of the best of his generation.”
“In this road trip, I pushed myself to create characters that explore the Caribbean in an intense journey through cinema,” said Cabral, adding: “I’m really excited to work with Media Luna and Martins, whose experience in the business will make her the perfect partner in this new adventure.”
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Aside from writing and directing the drama, Cabral produced “The Projectionist” through his company, Tabula Rasa Films. Like many other Dominican filmmakers, he tapped investors keen to take advantage of an incentive, introduced in the country’s 2011 film law, which allows private companies or individuals to deduct 100% of their investments in local feature films, subject to a cap of 25% of the income tax otherwise payable.
“My film was entirely funded this way with a total of 12 investors,” said Cabral, who did the same with “Woodpeckers.”
The results of increased private investment in local cinema have been extraordinary in a country that saw an average of two-to-three homegrown films a year for nearly three decades prior to the film law. It now sees an average output of 14 to 20 local films a year, with 2017 seeing a record 25 releases. Of these 25 films, 22 tapped the incentive. A Dominican film has topped the box office ranks since 2013, at least.
To lure foreign productions, the film law also offers a freely transferable tax credit of 25% based on a minimum investment of $500,000 on qualified international productions in the country. VAT and custom duties are exempted from eligible production-related expenses.
Cabral is in Cannes with a delegation of 43 other fellow Dominicans led by film commissioner Yvette Marichal and Omar de la Cruz, head of the Festival de Cine Global Dominicano.
“It’s the largest contingent the Dominican Republic has ever sent to Cannes,” said de la Cruz who recalls how it was just him and another colleague representing the country 10 years ago. “Indeed, it’s a reflection of the surge in our film industry’s output.”