The first annual Ibero-American Co-production Forum closed Thursday in Madrid with a sense of optimism about the ramifications of Forum host Telefonica Media's planned $100m production investment in Ibero-American cinema.
General reactions to the three-day Forum, which was co-hosted by the Spanish Producers' Federation (FAPAE), were positive. Producers from across Spain and Latin America vowed that they were pending closure on co-production and distribution deals, some of which are expected to be announced next week. Thirty-eight projects participated in the Forum, with representatives from 15 countries and 113 different companies.
Next week's announcements should clarify for expectant Ibero-American producers how much Telefonica Media (TM) plans to invest - and at what level the company will get involved - in individual feature film and television projects. TM hasn't specified how many projects it will take on with its $100m investment over the next year. TM general director of contents Alberto Ennis said that the company will acquire rights to individual projects and create links to other TM and Telefonica companies. This could mean leading internet portal Terra, as well as TM's pay and free-to-air TV outlets and production interests in Spain and Latin America. As of yet TM has no substantial theatrical distribution or exhibition interests.
Telefonica's $100m announcement represents a welcome promise of funds for national cinema sectors in need of financial support at all levels. As participants in the Forum's daily roundtables expressed, Spanish and Portuguese-language films lack critical production support from the television sector and international distribution networks.
Representatives of US and US-based companies - such as Sony Pictures Classics president Michael Barker, Latin American Pay TV Service (LapTV) CEO Genaro Rionda and Venevision president Luis Villanueva - confirmed that foreign films don't have the audience on either the big or small screens that US blockbusters do and therefore don't command the same fees or rates of acquisitions.
"I would like to see [Spanish television networks] invest in Spanish and Latin American cinema 10% of what they spend on big North American productions," Spain's Enrique Gonzalez Macho of Alta Films said. Spanish distributor-exhibitor Antonio Llorens of Lauren Films suggested that Ibero-American companies should open their own cinemas in the US, to offer an outlet for Spanish and Portuguese-language movies.