The Cannes Festival’s greatest industry achievement in the last decade, apart from maintaining the global preeminence of its Riviera-set meet, is Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur. Launched in 2009 by the Cannes Festival and Market, in partnership with Argentina’s INCAA film-TV agency, it became from its very get-go the biggest film industry event in Latin America.
Running Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, this year’s event is based out of Buenos Aires’ Hotel Madero, which will host the meet’s conferences. Works in progress in sections – Primer Corte, Blood Window, Animation! and so on – screen at the nearby Cinemark Puerto Madero multiplex, others online.
The event itself is caught, however, in a maelstrom of still roiling COVID-19 and tectonic shifts in international industry business models, the former obliging it to adopt a hybrid online/in-person format for this year’s meet. Ventana Sur lifts off in Buenos Aires on Monday, Nov. 29.
Slowdown in COVID-19 Market
Especially for the world’s art-house sector, COVID-19 is hitting harder than ever before. Due to the large number of unreleased titles, distributors based in foreign territories may not be able buy again until 2022 when the consensus runs. Sales agents are becoming more selective and buying at least some of the films they want to distribute with an eye towards their potential platform potential. However, global studio streamers are more inclined to buy titles that have a greater audience. Sales agents won’t hesitate to purchase new titles. “Anything that’s just good is probably just not good enough to acquire,” says MPM Premium’s Quentin Worthington. “Audiences need films with bold strong visions and, if dramas, large emotions they can relate to.”
Cannes Festival Film Week
Each year, a critic will say that Cannes is losing the best festival in the world. Yet, year in, year out, Cannes will deliver about half the films on reviewers’ annual Top 10 Lists. Cannes head Thierry Frémaux will personally present seven contenders for that 2021 honor at Ventana Sur’s Cannes Film Week, led by Palme d’Or laureate “Titane,”Grand Prix Winner “Compartment No. 6,” “Ahed’s Knee”And “A Hero,”Which shared its Jury Prize “The Worst Person in the World,”Renate Reinsve won best actress. This is the elite of world cinema, driving up huge sales, even in COVID-19.
Ventana Sur opens up to series and video games
The consequences of the sales slowdown are, however, playing out throughout this year’s Ventana Sur. One hand, there is a market-meet opening up. Already building, SoloSerieS, Ventana Sur’ drama series strand, will now host project pitch competitions backed by Netflix, as well as Spanish producer ESPostlight, which is partnered by Legendary Global, and Flixxo, a file-swapping platform. Ventana Sur will also bow Maquinitas-Let’s Play, its first dedicated video game forum. “Everyone is looking at what is happening in theaters, how platforms are evolving. Everyone’s trying to continue acquisition and distribution but being quite careful,” says Cannes Marché du Film exec director Jéröme Paillard. “We want companies to see how they can diversify.”
Netflix Embraces Ventana Sur
These expansions are already proving to be very successful. For example, in their first collaboration, Netflix and Ventana sur are offering AR$500,000 ($5,000), to the winner of five drama series by upcoming Argentine women writers. The section covers adventure, fantasy, and more. “Ayelen and the Forest Shadow”To radical female revenge anthology “Fed Up, In A Far Away Defense,” plus “The Girls of the Fog,” a Falklands War hospital-set drama, “My Queen,”A dysfunctional Jewish family comedy. “Sugar, Handicapped, Reckless, Not That Sweet,”About a sugar baby wheelchair. In all, an auspicious debut.
Ventana Sur’s On-Site/Online Mix Evolves
There will be at least 420 participants who will have to navigate Argentina’s complex travel regulations, which include COVID-19 medical insurance. For many, the prize will be a stay in Hotel Madero. This is one of the top hotels in town. Bernardo Bergeret (Ventura Sur co-director) says that Maquinitas has been driving a significant increase in Argentine attendance. With much of the world’s foreign-language sales-distribution film industry attending online, total participants should be in line with 2019 at around 3,000, Paillard adds. “We’ve increased the visibility of all the producer and project activities. We’re very happy about the physical participation both from Latin America, Europe and the U.S.,”He adds.
New Talent Platform
“My Queen”Marlene Grinberg, director, won two awards earlier in the month. “The Mermaid of Monterrey” at the Sanfic-Mórbido Lab. Additional creators at Netflix
The Argentine Women Creators Incentive is poised for breakthrough International publishers have been “hugely surprised by the originality of some of the video game projects coming from people who are totally off the vidgame radar,” says Bergeret. Sixteen of the 12 pix in-post in Primer Corte/Copia final are solo debut features. Five sophomore films make up the remaining five. Platforms and independents are both interested in film festivals and film markets as they become major new talent platforms.
Rising Production Standards
Over 1998-2008, Latin America feature film production more than tripled – from 98 titles to 312, according to Screen Digest – as governments put their backs behind national production. Since then, volume has more than doubled. However, the present age is one of increasing production quality. Brazilian Copia Final screener “Tinnitus,”Marco Dutra (a Locarno 2017 Special Jury Prize recipient) co-wrote this example. “Good Manners,” its DP is Rui Poças, whose credits include Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama,” and its score is from Tindersticks’ David Boulter, a frequent composer or musician for Claire Denis. Movies, just like series, must stand out. This is why co-production, sustained development, and better production are essential.
Talents to track Benjamín Mirguet (“Alfredo Laron”), Niles Atallah (“Celestial Twins”Silvina Snicer (“The Cottage”) have projects at Proyecta, a co-pro forum; Primer Corte features new titles from, among producers, Oscar laureate Vanessa Ragone (“The Face of the Jellyfish,”) and Cannes Camera d’Or winners Edher Campos (“Journey to the Land of the Tarahumara”Juan Pablo Miller (“Sublime”). There’s good word on a brace of Brazilian titles, led by “Mars One”And “Tinnitus.” From Blood Window, two Brazilian picks stand out in Fernando Mamari’s “Niobe” and Sabrina Greve’s “The Basement,”As does the Chilean supernatural love-triangle tale “Eros Thanatos”Felipe Eluti. Ventana Sur’s Animation! frames from Silvia Prietov – hot Colombian prospect“Halloween”)And Mexico’s Fotosintesis Media (“Mi Amigo del Sol”). Other buzz titles: Mexico’s “Hanta” and “The Sleeping Beauty Chronicles”And, as works continue, an exquisite eco fable “Perlimps,” from Alê Abreu, the Oscar-nominated director of “Boy and the World.”
Ventana Sur isn’t just about Latin America, however. Occupying half or more of the online screening schedule, Ventana Sur’s European Screenings take in post-WWI murder mystery “Hinterland,”Oscar nominee Stefan Ruzowitzky “The King of All the World,” Carlos Saura’s latest fiction musical, and the Constantin Film-produced “Contra,”From “Pope Joan” director Sönka Wortmann, one of five titles backed by European Film Promotion digital sales support. Latin America’s biggest film market is also a great opportunity for select European films to stand out.
What does this year’s Ventana Sur say about the films that are getting made in Latin America and beyond? If anything really traces a through-line between titles in Primer Corte/Copia Final, it’s their characters’ battle for inner change, notes the sections’ co-curator Eva Morsch-Kihn. Often at the heart of projects’ stories are “characters who are exploring in an intimate fashion, searching for identity, trying to find legitimacy or their own path in life or go back to who they were.”Other figures “look for new ways to see the world, or want to change something or fight to conquer a fear or problem,” Morsch-Kihn observes. The same could be said about multiple titles in other sections at this year’s Ventana Sur.