Cimarron Fires Up New Movies, First Premium TV Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Hernán Musaluppi, Santiago López and Diego
Hernán Musaluppi, Santiago López and Diego Robino / Credit: Cimarron

Cimarrón, an ambitious pan-Latin American production shingle, is readying new high-profile features by Cannes-prized Agustín Toscano and Sundance best director winner Lucía Garibaldi as it gears up to shoot its first drama series in Mexico and Brazil, backed by two global platforms.

Cimarrón, headquartered in Uruguay’s Montevideo and with offices in Brazil and Argentina and service company operations in Mexico, is working on four international productions to be shot over the next few months.

Apart from Toscano and Garibaldi, the company has projects in development – movies or series – with Israel Adrián Caetano, Anahí Berneri, Marina Meliande, Gustavo Taretto and Manuel Abramovich – some of the most courted of South American directors.

Toscano’s “Perro Feroz,” scheduled to shoot in May 2021 and produced by Argentina’s Rizoma and Cimarrón in co-production with France’s Gloria Films, is set in rural Argentina in 1974 and turns on Sergio, an illiterate rural laborer who begins supplying food to a guerrilla group.

Exposed, he joins the armed resistance group, which ask him to give his life for the revolution, a cause he doesn’t understand. Toscano’s “The Owners” won a special mention at 2013 Cannes Critics’ Week; his 2018 “The Snatch Thief” played at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.

Produced by Uruguay’s Montelona and Cimarrón, Garibaldi’s “La Ultima Reina,” her follow-up to Sundance laureate “The Sharks,” turns on 18-year-old Elisa, who lives in a huge housing complex in a desolate and derelict town with an aged population where young people who come of age are forced to migrate to the north, a kind of promised land where “history is being made.”

The last young woman, part of the last delegation destined to go north, she begins to rebel.

Also exploring Elisa’s relationship with her mother, “The Last Queen’s” about “the control that states exercise over citizens, their possibility of freedom,” said Cimarrón partner Hernán Musaluppi.

Cimarron’s first two drama series, both premium fiction series, have been greenlit by their respective streaming platforms and look set to be announced in a matter of weeks, added Cimarron partner Santiago López, who could not be drawn on the details or platforms as of yet.

The productions confirm the fast-growing Cimarron as one of the go-to companies for streaming platforms in Latin America. Such expansion is becoming increasingly rare in a Latin America bedeviled by a government’s attack on its film and TV sector (Brazil) and inflation and plunging exchange rates (Argentina), despite proactive government support.

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The Moneychanger Credit: Cimarron

To grow, however, Cimarrón can look both to the growth of the global streaming platforms in Latin America as well as a new sector-friendly liberal government in Uruguay. With Roberto Blatt, former head of content at Chello-Multicanal in Spain and Portugal, now heading up Uruguay’s ICAU film-TV agency, the government is looking to fire up Uruguay’s cash rebates program and future incentives to encourage local telco and leading media companies to invest in independent national production.

“We’re looking to maintain our identity, developing, financing and producing auteur films with overseas reach,” said Musaluppi. These will be “projects from prized directors, with the potential for growth, made in international co-production and a mix of public and private sector finance,” he added.

Cimarron’s hybrid production-services business model is not so common for Latin America. It also aims to wean Cimarron off an immediate dependence on public support systems. “Incentives remain important. Without them you can’t make films. But, in financial terms, cashflow, we can cover our participation. If not, films will never get made.

“Creating content gives you a sense of identity and prestige, freeing services is, however, easier,” said Musaluppi.

Focusing on location shoots, Uruguay aims to fire up its current cash rebate program which offers reimbursement of 20%-25% of local spend, paid directly to foreign producers – the simplest possible of systems. “There’s nothing like it in the region,” says Musaluppi. “Uruguay offers low costs, rebates and no VAT charges.” The terms will increase considerably shortly, López added.

Cimarron was established by producer Hernán Musaluppi, a leading light of the New Argentine Cinema (“It’s Not You, It’s Me,” “Giant”), Cannes Lion winning publicist Diego Robino at Oriental Films and Santiago López, who heads up production arm Oriental Features. With Robino and Lopez have extenive experience is production shoots.

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La misma sangre Credit: Cimarron