The 2021 hybrid Ventana Sur is underway in Buenos Aires this week (November 29-December 3) with a handful of new programmes and organisers anticipating overall participation to be close to 2019 numbers even though fewer people are flying in from overseas, particuarly from outside Latin America.
After a lengthy shutdown due to the pandemic that brought Argentina’s audiovisual industry to its knees as the entire Latin American region suffered, cinemas have begun to reopen and the summer is bringing hope of a return to some kind of normality.
It remained to be seen what effect if any the Omicron variant will have on proceedings although at time of writing Argentina had implemented a mandatory 10-day quarantine period for everyone arriving from Africa.
Jerome Paillard, the Cannes Marché head who runs Ventana Sur with Argentinian industry veteran Bernardo Bergeret, said they had been following the public health situation closely for months and knew the county would reopen in early November. “Therefore it was clear for us to make a hybrid event,” said Paillard. “We got many requests from industry players to attend the event and we were able to officially announce it in September.”
After an entirely virtual Ventana Sur in 2020 this year’s hybrid status feels like a natural evolution given the circumstances. “I think that the sales business of completed films functions well online, even though everyone prefers to go back to real-life networking,” said Paillard. “As we understand, Ventana Sur 2021 would not reach its usual attendance numbers, we have decided to focus on the onsite networking activities and more specifically on meetings with projects. Therefore we encouraged the project holders and the acquisition executives, as well as festival programmers, to attend physically, which is the case.”
Paillard expects more than 55 projects to be introduced this week and said overall market participation was “close to 2019 numbers” with nearly 2,500 participants as of November 28. Of that number some 350 are based in Europe, 120 in the US, and 600 in Latin America excluding Argentina. The market co-head said he expected around 200 people to fly from abroad, comprised of around 50 from Europe, 20 from the US and Canada, and 120 from Latin America. The sign-up fee has remained at €60 or €40 for early birds.
The virtual event in 2020 reported 2,957 participants from 61 countries, including 234 buyers. Of all participants there were 546 from Europe, 110 from the US, and 134 from Mexico.
Ventana Sur’s networking takes place as usual in the Madero Hotel in the Puerto Madero district of Argentina’s capital and screenings are scheduled at the Cinemark around the corner. Cannes head Thierry Fremaux returns with seven films from his Official Selection in July in the shape of Cannes Week at the Gaumont Cinema running November 29-December 5.
There are two new programmes: Iberoamerican video game showcase Maquinitas – Let’s Play and SoloSerieS, a marketplace for series and microseries projects in Latin America.
Aleksandra Zakharchenko, Ventana Sur’s head of programmes and training, highlighted several panels led by genre sidebar Blood Window’s Thursday (December 2) panel ‘Iberoamerican Genre Phenomenon: Trends, Media and Content’ featuring directors Demian Rugna from Argentina, Paula Ortiz (Spain) and Gustavo Hernández (Uruguay) in conversation with Macabro Film Festival director Edna Campos.
Other highlights anticipated by Zakharchenko include: a SoloSerieS panel examining the role of showrunners in ‘A Showrunner In The Age Of Platforms: Auteur Or Orchestrator?’; Animation! sidebar panel ‘The Challenges of Directing Animation In The Big Leagues’ featuring Pete Michels (The Simpsons) of Bentobox and Garra Esports CEO Roberto Cánovas discussing the growth of esports in a session in the new Las Maquinitas programme called ‘Discover The E-Sports Universe’.
Turning to the Argentinian industry as a whole Bergeret said, “The production of series and miniseries has enlarged drastically throughout the region, involving producers, directors and technicians from the film sector. A delicate balance has been established in between the content production designed for theatrical and platforms’ distribution. Apart from that, INCAA’s [government support body The National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Art] continues to encourage audiovisual activity but with cinema shut down, for many months, the promotion fund has been affected by 10% box-office contribution decrease.”