Sun Distribution Group, a new Latin American buying consortium, has made its debut at the AFM with bids for up to seven of the largest films on offer, it says. The Buenos Aires-based distributor aims to acquire all Latin American rights to around eight theatrical titles its first year and eventually average a dozen per annum.

Comprised of five Argentinean players led by CEO Diego Halabi, Sun Distribution includes brothers Tomas and Sebastian Darcyl whose company Telefilm Argentina has been in the television distribution business the past 40 years.

The other partners are marketing expert Oscar Guil and Adrian Deppe, an associate producer of two of the most successful Argentinean films in recent times, the Oscar-nominated Son Of The Bride and Nine Queens, both Sony Pictures Classics pick-ups for US.

Telefilm will handle the television distribution of all Sun acquisitions. Halabi is a lawyer who previously worked with Bernardo Zupnik of Bueno Aires-based indie, Distribution Company.

Sun has targeted titles with budgets ranging from $50m to $80m from the likes of Intermedia, Icon, New Regency etc. "We hope to give these films the individual attention a major can rarely give its many titles," said Halabi. Sun goes up against another ambitious independent regional distributor, Mexico-city based NuVision, owned by the well funded Estudio Mexico Films. Founded in late 1998, NuVision lately has been more selective and cautious in the light of the financial crisis in Argentina and the worldwide recession fallout from September 11.

"We've made realistic offers based on the current situation in Argentina as we wouldn't want to renegotiate later," said Halabi. P&A costs are rising and net income per admission is currently $1, down from $1.40 in Argentina. However, the rest of the region has not been as badly affected as anticipated.