2015 February SXSWorld


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2 2 S X S W o r l d | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 5 | S X S W. C O M ver the past decade, Latin American cinema has expe- rienced an unprecedented reemergence, creating an impressive body of artistic work, while also launching the careers of a generation of filmmakers and boosting audi- ences' appetite for local productions. The region as a whole more than tripled its annual production in a short period: from about 130 feature films at the beginning of the new century to around 600 films in the last few years. Latin America has deftly been able to separate the distribu- tion and exhibition problems from film production itself. In this sense—and in stark contrast to other parts of the world (including the U.S.)—Latin American directors have been able to expand their filmography, regardless of the exhibition fate of their movies. One of the most beneficial aspects of this trend in film production is that many young directors in the region have been able to make more than just their first or second productions. Such is the case of Matías Piñeiro (b. 1983) and Daniel Burman (b. 1973), both from Argentina, with five and 10 features respectively; Nicolás Pereda (b. 1982) from Mexico, with eight features; and Julio Hernández Cordón (b. 1975) from Guatemala, with four features (and another one currently in post-production), just to name a very few. According to Manoel Rangel, president of Brazil's National Film Agency (ANCINE), 2014 was a positive year for Brazilian cinema, with around 130 national films released in the theaters. "It was a year that was marked by the genre diversification of the films released. There is a conscious market effort—from distributors and producers—to go beyond the comedy genre, in order to conquer the local box office and connect with the audiences," he said in a recent interview. Remarkably, the biggest economies of the region are not the only ones to have experienced a solid growth in film productions; smaller nations with a less developed film tradition are also contributing to the growth of Latin American cinema. Take, for instance, Uruguay, where 15 local films had a theatrical release in 2012, or the Dominican Republic, where 19 films made on the island hit theaters last year. Colombia saw the theatrical release of 24 local productions in 2014, according to Claudia Triana, director of Proimágenes Colombia, the mixed non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the Colombian film industry. This group has played a key role in the emergence of local production in the South American country. According to Triana, the success of the Colombian case "has resided in the creation of an integral system of stimuli and the continuity in the implementation of the policies promoting cinema for over a decade." The recent film renaissance cannot be separated from the major regional political shifts and empowerment of Latin American civil societies. Film has long been used as a tool to challenge tra- ditional notions of politics, culture, identity and even mass entertainment. Nonetheless, what has proved key to the consolidation of the region's national cin- emas has been the innovative creation of hybrid and diverse models of production which combine different types of financial support (private and public, national and international). Having these diverse sources of funding has largely protected the artistic integrity of the film content and allowed directors to experiment both commercially and aesthetically. Since the '90s, some countries in the region have enabled new and groundbreaking film laws in order to activate and create incentives for local productions. These days, several Latin American coun- tries—from Argentina to Panama—count on operational film laws. It is important to note that many of these initiatives have been a direct product of the collective organization and lobbying of local pro- ducers and filmmakers—not just policies handed from the top down. Under these laws, some governments offer corporations the possi- bility of investing a portion of their income tax in films. This enables them to make a profit on money that would otherwise go to the state. Other governments have created special funds to support film- making while also successfully enabling co-production treaties with other countries. Another key element in the Latin American film renaissance has been the emergence of a generation of producers who have accom- panied and supported the filmmakers. These producers have created effective networks with other local, national and international pro- duction companies that have helped finance films, opening doors for commercialization abroad. Of course, distribution and exhibition within the region are still difficult. Jorge Sánchez, director of the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), recently noted that: "One of the major problems we face as a region is the circulation of films in our own countries. We esti- mate that only a little over 10% of the films produced are released in another country beyond their nation of origin. A very low percentage considering that the Latin American market represents more than 600 million visitors annually." Yet, despite these challenges to com- mercialization, Latin American film production remains strong. The United States has its own contexts in regards to film produc- tion—state supported funding largely remains limited—but Latin America could serve as a case study for American filmmakers on how to reactivate film production by diversifying funds and expanding their international networks. Carlos A. Gutiérrez is co-founder and executive director of Cinema Tropical. See for Latin American films screening at SXSW. Film Production in Latin America: A Case Study by Carlos a. Gutierrez O S ce n e fro m A Wolf at the D o or, B r azil i a n f il m fro m SX S W 20 14. C O U R T E S Y: M U N D I A L S A L E S Cu mb res, a M ex ica n f il m t h a t wa s a US Pre m ie re a t SX S W 20 14 G A B R I E L N U N C I O

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