Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ventana Sur, The First Latin American - European Film Market to be held on Latin American Ground.

The positive energy here is palpable. Everyone is not only happy to be here, but business is brisk. It feels like a natural place for a Latin American market with films, buyers and sellers all discussing Spanish language films con mucho gusto.

A lot of INCAA and Euro money went into this. Held in the magnificent space of Harrods next to Calle Florida where shopping deals rule, and in the Cinemark Theaters on the Rio de la Plata River, well organized with online screenings of films which will continue to be available to participants for the next two months on Cinando, it looks ordained as a key event on the market calendar.

How it will compare to Guadalajara Film Festival and Market in March is a question that hangs in the air. Cinando's participation there goes back four years with its active Co-Production Market.

On reading the list of 1,400 buyers and sellers it was a bit intimidating seeing the best names in the European business. There were far fewer American sellers, perhaps because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but there was Shoreline, Laguna, Outsider and Figa among the sellers' tables. Making an informal appearance as both buyer and seller was Maya who is proud of their first production, The Dry Land - to debut in Sundance - about a Tejano soldier returning from Iraq, produced by Sergio Aguero whose career path from the days of Trimark has been extraordinary.

Looking at the US buyers who came and who did not was also revealing. As ever, Peter Goldwyn was present. Condor's Peter Marai who is not only buying for Condor, his US video label but has already released three (European) films in his new Argentinean distribution company Mirada were here as were Richard Lorber, Film Movement, Kino and Zeitgeist, Strand, TLA, young, energetic Cuban and Brazilian owned California based Figa Films -- both buying and selling, Venevision, LAPTV, Latino Public Broadcasting, Magnolia, Music Box, Roadside Attractions (me!). Also present, Canadians Yves Dion of TVA, Mongrel, Lina Marrone representing Lolafilm sales were also here. And all the best European distributors, along with all the Latin American distributors make this intimate space very exciting.

Considering the elusive US market for foreign language films and the prevalence of French language films among them; not counting 2008 Fox Searchlight's Sundance acquisition Under the Same Moon which did gross $12,600,000, 2007's Lionsgate / Univision release of Robber of Robbers (Ladrón que roba a ladrón) which racked up $4,000,000, or 2006's Lionsgate My Brother's Wife (La Mujer de mi hermano) from Colombia which grossed almost $3,000,000, the few Spanish language films that have been released over the past three years have been few and far between and have grossed bupkas (all under $100,000). Experts in the US marketing and distribution of Latino films agree (see the blog on LALIFF) that if there were a steady flow of good product theatrically, an audience could and would be cultivated, but there has only been on film per year backed with enough marketing behind it to reach the audience.

The screenings in the Cinemark Theaters were somewhat sparse to start, with the possibility to going from one to another easy but also discouraging. Perhaps the distance from the Market itself discouraged attendance, although the last day of big screenings left me quite upbeat. Even if the films are not blatantly bidding-war-commercial, my favorites -- insightful, well produced and well directed -- were Elo Audiovisuals Budapest, Bolivia's Zona Sur with no sales agent on offer from the Cultural Center Yaneramai CCY-SRL. (NB DECEMBER 12: SHORELINE HAS PICKED UP WORLD RIGHTS AND THE FILM WILL SHOW IN SUNDANCE), and the Argentinean submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar of 2009 El Secreto de sus Ojos. The Primer Corte (works in progress) was very well attended with distributors looking to get in on the upcoming releases earlier than their competition.  The most talked about film were Los Viejos and Vacas Flakas. The 450 titles available online in the viewing booths at the market itself were being consumed avidly and the sellers report considerable sales. The films? continuing viewing availability to participants on Cinando for the next two months can keep the heat up and will also alert film buyers and sellers and perhaps festivals to the expanding possibilities of online distribution both as a new trade tool within the trade and to the next step, beyond the trade.

We will see what sales were made and we hope that they match the optimistic positive energy so in evidence so that next year we can once again partake in what we hope will be a growing market and a growing supply of young original talent.

1 comment:

  1. wow, sounds like a 'must attend' .... Peter Belsito,