The Latin American industry should place less reliance on Europe as a co-production partner in the wake of economic woes, attendees at the Buenos Aires market heard on Friday (Dec 2).

At a lively co-production panel on the first day of Ventana Sur, the fallout from the Eurozone crisis weighed heavily on industry professionals, particularly as Spain remains a major partner.

“We must forget about getting money from Europe because it won’t always be there for us,” Federico Mejia, managing director of leading Colombian distributor Babilla Cine, said.

“Funds are growing… we can develop projects without co-productions. Many times co-productions are not favourable: they can become a hurdle for a movie that wasn’t necessarily conceived for other markets.”

Mejia was referring to The Film Development Fund (FDC) in Colombia, the relatively new finance source for Colombian productions and co-productions that is backed by the public and private sectors and administered by Proimagines Colombia.

Cuban executive Jose Ambros Hernandez of ICAIC – Productora Internacional suggested dismantling filmmaking borders throughout Latin America. He also suggested the Ibermedia programme that provides assistance to producers be renamed something like Latinmedia so as to remove the “Iber” element with its European connotation.

Hernandez also mooted the idea of setting up mini-markets in every Latin American country to encourage trade year-round, rather than relying solely on the two key markets of the region – Ventana Sur and Guadalajara.

All panelists agreed distribution mechanisms must be in place to get Latin American films with real and not “forced” crossover appeal into neighbouring countries.

The influence of the US remains strong and one executive pointed out earlier in the day that six out of the top ten releases in Argentina this year were handled by Disney. “If a film’s not a success in the US there’s no way it’s going to cross borders,” Mejia said. “If the media’s not interested in it, it wont succeed [in crossing borders].”

Local distribution in Argentina remains a challenge, especially as physical space to showcase local work comes at a premium. Speaking on a distribution panel earlier in the day, Octavio Nadal of Aura Films said there was a lack of venues in Argentina.

“There’s a real estate problem in Argentina,” Nadal said. “It means someone who earns a salary cannot afford to buy an apartment and the same applies to movie theatres: it’s more profitable to have a parking space than a movie theatre.” He added that the digitisation of Argentina’s film industry was critical to target disparate audiences in an atomised market.

An earlier discussion on crowdfunding revealed the necessity for cash payment mechanisms for contributors, many of whom are young and might not have access to a credit card. To compound this issue, there is a prevalent fear in the region of credit card fraud, even though it was noted by one panellist that ecommerce has boomed in Latin America over the last eight years.

Filmmaker Yashira Jordan, who has used crowdfunding to fund in part her documentary Durazno, said she held picnics and brought along piggy banks for people to make impromptu donations.