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‘Ruben Blades Is Not My Name’ Unspools Across Latin America

Abner Benaim’s music docu picked up by HBO for the U.S.

As documentaries and true-event based movies deliver many of the highlights and some news at the Santiago Int’l Film Festival (August 19-26), Abner Benaim’s much-lauded music documentary “Ruben Blades is Not My Name” is getting a rare multi-territory release across Latin America.

By the end of August, “Ruben Blades…” will have opened in Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Chile, Argentina and the Caribbean are likely to follow. HBO has picked up the docu for the U.S. next year.

A co-production between Benaim’s Apertura Films, Gema Juarez Allen’s Gema Films of Argentina and Ciudad Lunar, Colombia, “Ruben Blades…” has been reaping multiple awards on the festival circuit.

The music docu received its world premiere at SXSW where it proved its commercial appeal by nabbing the 24 Beats Per Second audience prize. It closed Panama’s IFF festival and went on to key fest events across the region, including Guadalajara in Mexico, Argentina’s Bafici, DocsBarcelona, Lima where it opened the fest, and the NY Latino Festival, which it also kicked off proceedings.

The film’s trailer, launched in March, was a viral hit, seen by over two million people on its first week.

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Jose Victoria’s ProLatsa releases the film Aug. 30 in Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala. In Mexico, Everardo Gonzalez’s Artegios releases the doc on 46 screens on Aug. 31.

In Colombia, Ciudad Lunar and Caracol TV are unleashing the doc through Cinecolor on Sept. 12 in around 60 screens. Cinecolor also releases in Peru.

Apertura Films oversees the distribution and marketing in Panama and the simultaneous launch in Latin America, said Benaim.

Abner Benaim, Ruben Blades

Philippa Kowarsky’s Cinephil is handling the rest of the world.

One of Panama’s leading helmers whose credits include 2009 hit comedy “Chance” and 2014 doc “Invasion,” Benaim filmed “Ruben Blades” over the course of three years, trailing Panama’s iconic singer, songwriter, actor and activist in concerts and other events in Panama City, New York, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Colombia.

The docu includes interviews with key figures from the Latin music scene and also musicians and actors, including Junot Diaz, Paul Simon and Sting, among others.

Blades lorded over the salsa revolution of the ‘70s, recording 38 albums and nabbing 17 Grammys along the way. He was once Panama’s Minister of Tourism and ran for president.

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