Directors Lucrecia Martel, Pablo Trapero and Daniel Burman were all key figures in the emergence of Argentinian cinema on the international scene a decade ago. All three are now in production on new projects, with an array of foreign partners.
"We have solid contacts with established companies in Europe," says rising producer Veronica Cura, who is producing Martel's The Headless Woman. "We have gained prestige and recognition in foreign festivals and markets."
It is the international arthouse success of the distinctive, personal explorations of Martel in The Swamp (La Cienaga) and The Holy Girl (La Nina Santa), Burman's Berlin entries Every Stewardess Goes To Heaven, Lost Embrace and Family Law, and the neo-realism of Trapero's Crane World and El Bonaerense, that has helped the film-makers tap finance both at home and abroad. And a new generation of Argentinian talent is benefiting too (see sidebar).
Last month Martel started shooting The Headless Woman (La Mujer Sin Cabeza) near the northern border with Bolivia where she grew up. The $2.5m psychological thriller tells the story of a woman - played by The Holy Girl's Mercedes Moran - who kills a dog on the highway and from then on fails to recognise both the people who approach her and their intentions.
While Martel's first two films were financed out of Argentina, The Headless Woman is an Argentinian-French-Italian co-production between Agustin and Pedro Almodovar's El Deseo, France's Slot Machine, and Italy's Teodora Films. Produced by Veronica Cura, the project has also received backing from Arte France and the CNC's Fonds Sud.
Burman, meanwhile, is one of Argentina's most successful film-makers. At just 34, the screenwriter, producer and director is shooting his sixth feature in Buenos Aires. Empty Nest (El Nido Vacio) stars Cecilia Roth and Oscar Martinez as a couple whose children leave the family home.
The $1.6m film is produced by BD Cine, the company Burman co-owns with Diego Dubcovsky, and their long-term European partners, Italy's Classic SRL, France's Paradis Films and Spain's Wanda Vision. "As we are more and more dependent on foreign money and international sales, we have been developing strong relationships with European companies," Burman says.
"It's impossible to finance a Burman film without international support," says Dubcovsky, who secured $120,000 from the Ibero-American film fund Ibermedia. The rest of the budget has come from Argentinian film agency Incaa, a distribution advance and private investors.
Pablo Trapero starts shooting his fifth feature later this month. Misencounter (Desencuentro) is a $1.2m film about a woman who accidentally kills her two lovers and has to raise her son in prison.
Trapero's Matanza Cine is re-teaming with Brazilian Walter Salles' VideoFilmes, but has a surprising new partner in the form of South Korea's Cineclick Asia, which is handling international sales. "It's the first time we have co-produced with an Asian company and the partnership seems to be very promising," Trapero says. "Rising costs are narrowing profits. We are dependent on foreign companies and film funds to keep on working."
HOT PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE
The Sign (La Senal)
This blackly comic crime story is the directorial debut of actor Ricardo Darin, who is also starring with Diego Peretti and Julieta Diaz. A co-production between Pampa Films, Patagonik Film Group and Spain's Wanda Films and Fenix Films, The Sign is premiering at San Sebastian and is released in Argentina on September 14. International sales are handled by BVI (Latin America) and Wanda Films (rest of the world).
Contact: Pampa Films, (54) 11 4774 9300
Azucena: 375 Days
Raul Rodriguez Peila directs this drama about a group of mothers campaigning for the victims of Argentina's military dictatorship. The $2.5m project is in pre-production and stars Adriana Barraza, whose credits include Babel. International sales are being handled by Filmax with Pampa Films looking after Latin America.
Contact: Pampa Films, (54) 11 4774 9300
The Rage (La Rabia)
The $800,000 film from acclaimed director Albertina Carri, whose credits include The Blondes, is about the sexual experiences of two teenagers in a rural town. Bavaria Film is handling international sales on the project, which is now in post.
Contact: Matanza Cine, (54) 11 4861 4006
Anahi Berneri's second feature following A Year Without Love, is a comedy-drama about the life of an old starlet. Embodiment is screening at both the Toronto and San Sebastian film festivals before its release in Argentina in October. The film is being sold by Bavaria Film.
Contact: BD Cine, (54) 11 4554 5182
Pablo Aguero's directorial debut is a $1.2m Argentinian-French co-production about a six-year-old who goes on a crazy trip to Patagonia. The film is produced by Argentina's Rizoma Films, JBA Productions (France) and is backed by Fonds Sud.
Contact: Rizoma Films, (54) 11 4556 1519
The Match Factory is handling international sales on this project about a merchant sailor who returns after years at sea. The $1m film is directed by Lisandro Alonso and is in post. It is produced by 4L (Argentina), Slot Machine (France) Fortuna Films (Netherlands) and Eddie Saeta (Spain).
Contact: Lisandro Alonso, email@example.com
Cordero De Dios (Agnus Dei)
Lucia Cedron's political drama about a kidnapping is an Argentinian-French-Chilean co-production. The $900,000 film is in post.
Contact: Lita Stantic, (54) 11 4775 8400
A Week Alone (Una Semana Solos)
Drama about a group of kids spending a week in an upper-class neighbourhood. The second feature from Celina Murga is in post.
Contact: Celina Murga, (54) 11 4775 1614
Paula Hernandez's second feature is a romantic drama about two people who meet in a traffic jam. It is in post and produced by Patagonik and Spain's Iconica.
Contact: Patagonik Film Group, (54) 11 4777 7200.