Latin American industry heats up at Ventana Sur
2 December, 2010 | By Wendy Mitchell
Organisers and attendees of this week’s Ventana Sur market in Buenos Aires explain why Latin America needs its own market, and why deals should be strong for this year’s diverse crop of films.
Having a smash hit puts a lot of pressure to deliver a great follow-up. That’s the case for Ventana Sur, the Buenos Aires-based film market that launches its second run tomorrow (and runs through Dec 6). The inaugural edition last year was such a hit that buzz has quickly spread among international buyers and sellers that it is the hot new market that warrants attention (and that’s not just for sunshine in December).
Fabien Westerhoff, HanWay’s Director of Sales & Distribution – Broadcast, Home Entertainment, Theatrical Media, says: ‘On the acquisition side, Ventana Sur presents itself as a great platform to meet with Latin American talent, and on the sales side to promote Latin movies towards specialized distributors from the art house circuit that might not have made the trip to AFM. It’s positioning in the market calendar makes it a welcoming additional opportunity window before the end of the year.’
‘The second year is always a challenge,’ says Jerome Paillard, the Cannes Marche director who also serves as co-director of Ventana Sur. ‘The first year no one knows what to expect, and now expectations are very high.’
The organisers are working hard to meet those expectations. For the second year, there are a number of important changes – the first being that all meetings, market areas and screening rooms are now in the same area, not a cab ride away, centered near the Cinemark Puerto Madero. There will be an increased number of screenings, and they will also be more market-driven than last year.
Paillard said that when Instituto Nacional De Cine Y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA) initially asked for the Marche to get involved, he immediately thought it was a good idea. ‘There is a need in Latin America for such an event,’ Paillard tells Screen. ‘There are some events in Latin America that support Latin American films, but there is no kind of event supporting Latin American films ONLY.’
Buenos Aires-based Guido Rud of FilmSharks International adds that Ventana Sur was a needed addition to the festival/market landscape. ‘Having key territories like the US having more than a third of the people speaking Spanish, plus Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina are key territories on the international playing field. We had to have a market like Ventana Sur or Guadalajara that really boost our own culture and languages as a focus in the market.’
This year, there will be about 50 sales companies with stands (15 of those from Latin America), and 300 buyers and sellers are expected to attend. More than 120 world premieres will be presented.
‘Last year was quite successful in terms of business done,’ Paillard says. ‘And now the market is a little more active. Most of the films aren’t very expensive so distributors can make decisions more quickly.’
It should be a strong year for films on offer. ‘The Secret In Their Eyes won the Oscar, so that film helped to give a lot of attention to Latin American film. But there is vast diversity in Latin American film.’ He explains that of the 400+ films on offer this week the mix includes arthouse films, genre films, documentaries and even 3D projects.
One key VS offering is the Primer Corte programme, of works in progress. The 10 participants showing new work this year include Cannes Cinefondation Residence alumni Hernan Belon from Argentina, Mexican director Yulene Olaizola who previously directed Intimacies of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo, 2009 Sundance Lab alum Alejandro Landes from Colombia, and another Argentine film-maker, Marco Berger, who previously directed Plan B.
Pyramide international’s Eric Lagesse had a great first trip in Ventana Sur in 2009, when he bought Leap Year (Ano Bisiesto), which was screening in Primer Corte before it was finished. The film went on to Cannes where it won the Camera d’Or. Lagesse says he has to return to the market following a ‘fairy tale’ like that, as well as because Argentine cinema is strong in France. ‘The link is strong between these two countries, so it is good to maintain the contact.’ He says it’s a must-attend event for Pyramide already.
Ryan Kampe of New York-based Visit Films hopes to both acquire new Latin American titles and talk to Latin American distributors about his international slate, noting ‘because it is expensive for many distributors to travel to the European markets and festivals, this is a good way forus to see them in a more informal environment.’
And Olaf Aichinger, acquisition manager at Bavaria Film International, told Screen: ‘Saleswise, despite the slump of the arthouse segment we find Latin American audiences to still be very appreciative of quality arthouse films and we find Latin American distributors to be very loyal buyers. And apart from the usual suspects, there have come some exciting, artistically creative and commercially viable films from Latin America lately, like We Are What We Are from Mexico, or The Silent House from Uruguay.’
Also, eight European producers will be coming to VS to discuss projects they could do with Latin American partners.
The concurrent Expotoons (Nov 30-Dec 2) and Latin Side of the Doc (Nov 30-Dec 3) events will also welcome professionals from animation and documentaries. Also, the second European Cinema Week will run alongside Ventana Sur, to be held at Buenos Aires’ Gaumont Cinema on Place Congresco.