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Ventana Sur: Chile’s Producers Look to Take Industry to Next Level

BUENOS AIRES — Oscar-winning Chilean producer Juan de Dios Larraín (“A Fantastic Woman”), Sebastián Freund, co-creator of Chile’s biggest ever B.O. hit, “Stefan vs. Kramer,” and Gabriela Sandoval, co-director of Sanfic, Chile’s biggest film event, Sanfic festival, are joining forces to haul Chile’s much vaunted cinema into the 21st century.

They will be joined by Sergio Gándara, Chile’s top TV producer, Macarena Cardone, from Invercine&Wood, and Gastón Chedufa, from Las Minas.

A hint of their roadmap looks likely to be heard Wednesday evening at Ventana Sur, when Freund and Sandoval deliver a short speech before a CinemaChile cocktail, traditionally a mid-market social milestone at Latin America’s biggest movie-TV market.
If it ain’t broke….? Since a new generation of filmmakers, making up the so-called Newest Chilean Cinema – Sebastián Lelio, Alicia Scherson, Matías Bize – burst onto the scene at the 2005 Valdivia Festival, Chilean filmmakers have won two Oscars – Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” this year, “Bear Story,” 2014’s Best Animated Short Film – made films which won at Sundance (“The Maid,” “Violeta Went To Heaven,” “Young & Wild,” “Crystal Fairy,” “To Kill a Man”), Berlin (“Gloria,” “The Club,” “The Pearl Button”), Cannes (“No”), Locarno (“Too Late to Die Young”) and Toronto (“Jackie”).
“Gloria” and “No,” co-financed by Participant Media, earned $9.0 million and $10.3 million worldwide.
But in some ways Chilean cinema can be seen as a victim of is own success, surging far faster in scale than the foundational state-sector incentives, launched in 2004, which help explain its original growth.
Over the prior four years to 2004, Chile made on average 10 films a year. That figure peaked at 40 in 2014. Chile’s state subsidies can’t keep up. Turned down for incentives, some directors have threatened to emigrate. At least one top producer is studying how to court venture capital equity.
Lelio and the Larrain’s Oscar for “A Fantastic Woman” can be seen as the crowning achievement of the Newest Chilean Cinema. Its members now want to build an industry.
Recently elected as president and vice-president of Chile’s Film-TV Producers Assn., Freund and Sandoval aim most immediately to attempt to update its regulatory structures via new legislation hauling Chile into the contemporary world. One case in point: Chile’s production incentives. They will be supported by Larraín and Gándara, both APCT board members.
The use of automatic production incentives is “the major public policy phenomenon in the film and TV sectors during the last 10 or more years,” SPI-Olsberg chairman Jonathan Olsberg said Tuesday, talking at Ventana Sur. As Freund pointed out to Variety, such incentives account for 70% of film funding in Mexico, 34% in Brazil and 33% in Colombia. Chile has a Law of Cultural Donations.  “Over the last two years, 13 certificates have been issued for uterus use but no film made with then,” Freund added.
Firing up a country’s production capacity is of little use unless a market exists for the enlarged output. At home, where Chile has the lowest market share of major Latin American production powers, APCT, which turns 40 next year, will look to ensure that Chilean movies which score significant festival presence abroad can see a more sustained run in Chilean theaters while word of mouth builds.
International promotion body CinemaChile, which is run under APCT’s aegis, is already a success story. Targeted initiatives are planned for 2019, when it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
APCT will also look to have a larger presence in TV markets, as its members move ever more into the TV market.
Already Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín’s Fabula (“Gloria Bell,” “A Fantastic Woman”) made waves at October’s Mipcom announcing “A Fantastic Woman’s” Daniela Vega will star in “La Jauria,” a psychological gender crime thriller to be directed by Argentina’s Lucía Puenzo (“The German Doctor”), co-produced and sold by Fremantle. Fox has one of its biggest early hits in Chile: Nicolás Acuña’s “Besieged.”
For a decade, Chile’s cinema has been producing premium cinema, fiction which challenge audience’s lazy thinking and has attracted some of Latin America’s biggest stars – Gael García Bernal, for instance. The audiences for such thought-provoking acting often now want it served up in series. Diversification into high-end drama series production seems like a open door for Chile.

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