BUENOS AIRES — In a ceremony just before Friday’s prize announcements at Ventana Sur, Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux and José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Festival, were named honorary members of Argentina’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a new move for the Academy, out through by its new president, Bernardo Zupnik, who conducted the ceremony.
The double award is not coincidental. As festivals morph from one-off one-to-two week affairs to all-round movie activism, they have had to do so often on the same budget and with the same staff. One way forward is to combine efforts, expertise and brand marketing. The biggest innovation at this year’s Ventana Sur, for example, was a Proyecta co-production firm co-organized by the Cannes Film Market and San Sebastian Festival, the biggest festival in the world and the highest-profile festival in the Spanish-speaking world.
Both Frémaux and Rebordinos have also done much for Argentine filmmaking simply by recognizing its worth and artistic wealth.
Two examples: Frémaux lived in Argentina, loves the country, speaks Spanish with ease and an Argentine accent, is visibly relaxed and happy curating the Cannes Festival Cinema Week which adds a festival heft to Ventana Sur and reminds Buenos Aires spectators of the excitement of the cinema-going experience.
Frémaux’s passion for Argentina does not influence his selection, he said on Monday at his opening keynote to Ventana Sur. But he went out on something of a limb in 2014, selecting “Wild Tales” for Cannes competition. In industry terms, it was a milestone decision. The selection, and a slew of near unanimous positive reviews propelled the film to world sales. “Wild Tales” went on to become one of the highest grossing foreign-language movies of the year. Bowing in August on home turf, it also helped consolidate that month in Argentina as one in which Argentineans believe they can catch local movies well worth watching.
Almodóvar regular Celia Roth presented Frémaux with a framed Argentine AMPAS dedication on Friday.
For his part, Rebordinos has taken to programming standout Argentine movies in competition, either as world (Anahi Berneri’s “Alanis” last year) or European premieres (Benjamin Naishtat’s “Rojo” in 2018). Both went on to win a slew of awards at San Sebastian, consolidating the status of both filmmakers.
Rebordinos has also emerged as a mainstay of Ventana Sur, curating the works in progress in Blood Window, the market’s forum for genre movies, a personal passion, and now co-organizing the market’s new Proyecta co-production forum which will begin to see deals go down from next week on projects from a new generation of emerging Latin America and European filmmakers.
Running late September, and facing impossible competition from Venice and a fortified Toronto, San Sebastian has established itself from the mid-1980s under Diego Galán and Manuel Perez Estremera as an annual showcase for the best in not just Spanish but Spanish-language cinema.
Rebordinos has taken that process two steps further, launching a Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum in 2012 and at this year’s Ventana Sur, partnering with the Cannes Film Market on a Proyecta 14-project forum of Latin American and European movies seeking international co-production. Highlighting a combined 30 titles, the double event now has the scale to establish itself as the premiere market filter in the world for arthouse and crossover movies from or set in Latin America.
Presenting Rebordinos with a plaque, Zupnik praised him for having “privileged the cinema of our [Latin American] region and his constant search for new projects and talents which reaffirm the presence of our cinema internationally.”