The Ventana Sur market in Buenos Aires has seen about 2,000 admissions as of the start of its closing day.
About 25% of those were for the festival’s popular Primer Corte screenings of works-in-progress. In the video room as of Monday morning, there had been 2,900 viewings by 180 people.
Buyers said that the quality of Latin American films on offer at Ventana Sur was high, but that there wasn’t necessarily one breakout title this year that was sparking lots of bidding.
One of the buzziest titles was Absent (Austente) by Marco Berger. France-based sales company Rendez-Vous picked up rights outside Latin American to the Primer Corte title, after having previously worked with Berger on his first feature Plan B.
The Argentine drama had received some offers from distributors, Rendez-Vous head Philippe Tasca told Screen, but they first need to put a festival plan in place for the film. Argentina’s Oh My Gomez! produced the story of a high school boy who has ulterior motives for spending time with his swim coach.
Other hot titles in Primer Corte included Hernan Belon’s In The Open (El Campo), about a wife who gets strange feelings when she visits a country house, from Argentina/Italy/France; Nacho Garassino’s prison break story Tunnel of Bones (El Tunel De Los Huesos), also from Argentina; and Mexico-Dutch production Artificial Paradises (Paraisos Artificiales), about a young heroin addict who befriends a peasant man in Veracruz; as well as The Clown (O Palhaco) from Brazil.
Outside of Primer Corte, viewings were busy for Phase 7 (Fase 7), and 2010 Cannes title The Invisible Eye (La miradainvisible). Buyers were bullish on Florian Cossen’s The Day I Wasn’t Born (Das Lied In Mir) as well. Also, The Match Factory picked up Tania Hermida’s En el nombre de la hija, a family comedy-drama from Ecuador.
Jerome Paillard, the Cannes Marche director who is the co-executive director of Ventana Sur said he was pleased with the second edition, although true measures of business done won’t be known yet until deals are closed in coming weeks. “You come in at 9:30 in the morning and the [market] tent is busy, that is a good sign for me,” he said.
Guests from outside Latin America rose to more than 300, up 20% over the first edition. Still, attendees praised the intimate atmosphere. Paillard said: “People say it’s the right size, you have to have time to meet people. Some sellers said they had met buyers here they had never had time to talk to in any other market.”
Most of the international buyers and sellers get their travel and accomodation provided by the festival, which may shift slightly if funding for the event changes. “[The invites] will continue but not to the same extent, we will need to be a little bit more careful,” Paillard said. “But will will continue to invite people who are interested in Latin America, who provide us with results.”
This year’s Ventana Sur had several changes made since the inaugural edition: a fourth day, plus screenings and market meetings all in the same area, and more screenings overall.
Udy Epstein of Los Angeles-based 7th Art Releasing said of his first trip to Ventana Sur: ”I think it is well organised, easy to attend, meet people and network. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. I am sold.”
Another US buyer, Ed Arentz of Music Box, said with the event’s strong organisation and facilities in a “wonderful city,” it was “no doubt the start of something enduring.”
Buenos Aires-based Javier Krause, an INCAA veteran who is now CEO of production and sales company Americine, screened two films from the company’s sales slate at VS. “I’m confident we will get sales from this market,” he said. “Attendance was strong, and the video library is also great. We can get that info at the end of every day.”
He said he had considered about 30 titles at Ventana Sur to pick up for sales, and will probably take on 10 or 12 of them in coming weeks and months to boost Americine’s sales slate.
Another seller noted that he had three times more meetings at this year’s market compared to the inaugural year.
French producer Didar Domehri, from new outfit Full House, was one of eight European producers invited to discuss forthcoming projects that need Latin American partners. At the first Ventana Sur, she found Colombian co-producer RCN for a new Carlos Moreno film. She was encouraged by the meetings she had this year for a new Cuban project, which is financing now.
“I had lots of meetings,” Domehri told Screen. “Ventana Sur is not really a coproduction market, but it could become one with the right infrastructure. There is a niche for this. We’re always watching Latin American for films and talent.”
Paillard said the organisation would consider a co-production market, but only if it wouldn’t remove attention from other activities.
One big theme of Ventana Sur this year is that of Latin American countries needing to work together more (see previous story here). Buenos Aires Film Commissioner Ana Aizenberg said that several Latin American film commissions have formed a new network. “We need to share info and projects. We’re presenting south america as one thing, from Mexico to Argentina.”
The new co-production agreement, between Argentina and Brazil, was signed during Ventana Sur, and its fund — backed by Brazil’s Ancine and Argentina’s INCAA — will initially back two films from each country; selections of the first projects are expected to be unvieled by March 2011. Each film will get a $200,000 grant.
Americine’s Krause noted that Ventana Sur already seems to has hit its stride only in year two. “It’s only in it’s second year and if you look around, it’s run like a sixth or seventh edition,” he said. “Latin American talent deserves this kind of event.”
Liliana Mazure, president of VS organiser Incaa (Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales) said one appeal of Ventana Sur was the fact that it brings the Latin American industry together en masse, not just the few who go to Cannes or Berlin or other festivals in any given year. “When its here we’ve got all eyes on us, and it’s not just 2-3 people its hundreds of films and hundreds of people.”