In an out-of-the-box move, the Cannes-backed Ventana Sur, Latin America’s biggest movie market, looks set for a game changing seven city on-site roll-out to run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 in Madrid, Paris, Rome, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile and Colombia’s Bogotá.

Launched in 2009 by the Cannes Festival and Film Market and Argentina’s Incaa film agency, Ventana Sur’s first 11 editions have all taken place in Argentina’s Buenos Aires.

The seven city spread will see 30-40 titles screening throughout the first week in December at a single theater in each of these cities, targeting an industry audience of sales agents, distributors and film fest heads, said Jérôme Paillard, Cannes Marché du Film director and co-director of 2020’s Ventana Sur with Bernardo Bergeret.

“Traditionally, we’ve brought distributors to films, but now we’ll bring films to distributors. Currently, we have no choice,” Paillard said, in reference to stringent travel restrictions between Europe and Latin America and Argentina’s continued lockdown, which looks likely to continue well into 2021.

Screenings will take in the longstanding works in progress strands at Ventana Sur, such as for live action art films Copia Final and Primer Corte, which boasts buzz titles such as “The Joy of Things,” as well as pix-in-post screenings of titles at Animation!, and its Blood Window genre market.

Ventana Sur’s final screenings lineup is still being defined. It will, however, most likely, take in a good selection of completed European movies, to be screened in Latin America, and finished Latin American movies, to be showcased in Europe, Paillard added.

Adding a hybrid edge to this year’s edition, Proyecta, Ventana Sur’s co-production forum, a joint venture with the San Sebastian Festival, will unspool online, as will Ventana Sur’s conference lineup.

Over the last few years, the presence of global platforms at Ventana Sur – Netflix, Amazon and HBO – has been strong. The market is paying “special attention” to attracting them again, said Paillard. “We’re also trying to convince more thematic and local platforms to discover the event,” he added.

This year’s online events will feature a focus on what platforms are looking for, plus a drama series section on the role of the showrunner, said Bergeret. Ventana Sur will also stage Punto Genero, a women-in-film forum featuring panel discussions and project presentations, Bergeret added.

Ventana Sur will also organize online meetings between European and Latin American producers.

Cinema theaters chosen for 2020’s Ventana Sur are Mexico City’s Cinepolis Diana, Madrid’s Renoir Princesa, a classic arthouse, the Espaço Itau Frei Caneca in São Paulo, new Parisian complex Les 7 Parnassiens, Santiago de Chile’s Universidad Mayor, Rome’s Quattro Fontane and the Cinemateca de Bogota.

Feedback from distributors on Ventana Sur’s plans has been “highly positive,” said Paillard. “People are fed up of online screenings. If we can give them the chance to meet their peers and catch the latest films from Europe and Latin America in cinema theaters, then we will do so, and supporting cinema theaters is great as well,” he added.

As it shapes what it calls a new normality, some aspects of which may be carried over into future years, Ventana Sur’s greatest challenge, Paillard recognized, is local health regulation  in Europe.

On Oct. 21, France’s president Emmanuel Macron announced a a new one-month national lockdown which includes cinema theaters and is set to run to at least the beginning of December.

That means screenings in Paris will have to start one day later than in other cities, said Paillard. Italy’s sweeping new pandemic measures, which also shutter cinemas, last until at least Nov. 24.

In contrast, Spain’s new public health restrictions, framed in an Oct. 25 state of alert, allow cinema theaters to remain open. Prospects for screening Ventana Sur titles in its four Latin America cities look favorable, Paillard said.

The market’s new structure has won support via Bergeret from Latin American institutions. Ventana Sur also continues to receive essential co-funding from the European Union’s Creative Europe Media Program.

Ventana Sur will unspool as COVID-19 has decimated theatrical revenues for art films, which accounts for 50%-70% of distributors’ income, while scything production incentives from state agencies such as Argentina’s Incaa that source co-funding from a levy on domestic box office.

As state film funding has plunged, frozen or faces fiscal pressure over much of Latin America, Ventana Sur is being seen as an even more essential event. The number of submissions for various sections such as Animation! have broken historical records. Attendance at Ventana Sur is currently tracking close to 1,000 confirmed delegates. Online accreditation is likely to surge closer to the event, said Paillard.

“The good news is that distributors are still committed to look for new films. For producers who aren’t able to shoot, it’s a good time to look for international projects. Europe and the U.S. also still has some money to invest,” he added.

“The positive side to online is that it makes it possible for people to attend who could never make it to Buenos Aires,” Paillard added.

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Bernardo Bergeret and Jérôme Paillard