10 Things You Should Know About Ventana Sur

John Hopewell
Variety

Ventana Sur opens Nov. 28, unspools through Dec. 3. Here are 10 Things to Know About Latin America’s biggest mart-meet:

1. CANNES FESTIVAL FILM WEEK

Cannes Festival chief Thierry Fremaux will host a 3rd Cannes Festival Film Week, highlighting standouts, and very often winners, of this year’s edition, accompanied by on-stage Q&As with their stars or star directors. A highly popular “live show” combo. “We must use the trademark of Cannes to touch people, and to check how the films selected are performing after Cannes,” Fremaux has said.

2. RICARDO DARIN FEST

Come sun (“XXY”), come rain (“El mismo amor, la misma lluvia”), come snow, there is only one Ricardo Darin, Latin America’s most bankable actor. And Ventana Sur will be screening his latest movie. “Black Snow,” a Patagonia-set thriller starring Darin (“The Secret of Their Eyes,” “Wild Tales”), receives an invitation-only screening courtesy of sales agent FilmSharks Intl. Disney releases Jan. 19 in Argentina, where it’s shaping up as one of 2017’s early big bows.

3. COPIA CERO

Another big innovation at 2016’s Ventana Sur, curated by Jose Maria Riba and Eva Morsch-Kihn, and screening films that are slightly more commercial, though still festival-worthy movie propositions, than titles in Primer Corte, Ventana Sur’s pix-in-post showcase, said Ventana Sur co-director Jerome Paillard. Movies will play completed, and attendance reserved for sales agents, said Cannes Film Market’s Julie Bergeron. Among this year’s first cut: “Rifle,” Brazilian Davi Pretto’ Western-tinged follow-up to “Castanha”; first-time Tomas Espinosa’s reportedly hard-hitting tale “Harpoon” about a high school director’s going off the rails; and “3 Zene,” three immigration tales produced by Bela Tarr’s Film Factory in Sarajevo.

4. BLOOD WINDOW

Now expanded, with an eight pix-in-post Works in Progress. Among Latino genre heavyweights, Adrian Garcia Bogliano presents in rough-cut the Sweden-shot “Black Circle,” starring the legendary Christina Lindberg (“They Call Her One-Eye”). Also playing WIP, “Belzebuth,” a slice of demonology straddling the U.S.-Mexico, shot in English/Spanish; and “Clementina,” detailing the horrors of domestic abuse, the first solo directorial outing from Argentina’s Jimena Monteoliva, producer of 2015 cult feature “Kryptonite.” Among projects to be pitched at Beyond the Window, a co-production forum: “Evil,” a horror-laced procedural produced by Mexico’s Isaac Ezban (“The Similars); “The Elf,” directed by Colombia’s Jorge Navas (“Blood and Rain”), produced by 64-A Films’ Diego Ramirez (“Dog Eat Dog”).

5. TRENDS

“Nobody quite knows now how Virtual Reality will impact or crosslink over to cinema. But it  cannot be ignored by producers and filmmakers. Many indeed are interested in exploring it,” says Ventana Sur co-director Jerome Paillard. New section Trends features project pitching, conferences, screenings and an exhibition forum for VR, augmented reality, web, full-dome and 4D content. Ventana Sur screen three VR video programs, from the U.S. Europe and Latin America.

6. PRIMER CORTE

Ventana Sur’s prestige work in progress showcase selected by Cannes Cinefondation’s Georges Goldenstern. Among the mix: Natalia Beristain’s “The Goodbyes,” a (woman’s) biopic, yes, but

portrait of poet Rosario Castellanos’ fragile  psychology, ceaseless inner scrutiny, rather than a plodding chronology; and “Los Unicos,” a (semi-) futuristic Western, from first-time director Nicolas Puenzo.

7. OTHER POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Of titles known by early November: Daniel Hendler’s “El Candidato,” a dramatic take on political skullduggery, which has an invitation only screening; from Chile, Augusto Matte and  Fabrizio Copano’s YA mainstream comedy “Attitude Test”; “Te Esperare,” from Alberto Lecchi (“Alone With You”), starring the always reliable Dario Grandinetti (“Talk To Her”); from Peru, “Siete Semillas,” starring the ineffable Javier Camara (“Talk To Her”), sold by Meikincine; the Latido-sold “The Distinguished Citizen,” Argentina’s Academy Award entry, not new, but reaping sales and robust Argentine box office.

8. HOT FROM SAN SEBASTIAN

The biggest film mart in Latin America, yes, but Ventana Sur is also part of a year-round market development circuit for Latin American movies. Three projects from San Sebastian’s Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum in September will be pitched again at Ventana Sur: “Home,” the Forum winner, set in a Buenos Aires hospice for fallen women (read teen single mothers); La Civil,” the Mexico set fiction-feature debut of Hot Docs winner Teodora Ana Mihai (“Waiting For August”); Argentine Patricio Suarez Quiroga’s docu-feature “Two Degrees from Autumn,” like “Rifle,” set against the background of Latin America’s rural diaspora, and those who stay behind.

9. FILMS FROM RIO

A movie project incubator, set up at the Rio Festival. Among its titles: “Clamor,” about an anti-military junta cell, Clamor, set upon 1978, penned by Chile’s Dominga Sotomayor (“Thursday Till Sunday”); and “Voices,” a “Crash”-like human story collage set in Rio, backed by Migdal Filmes, a company with its pulse of Brazil’s domestic market.

10. VENTANA SUR’S LARGE QUESTION

Latin America’s film build is certainly not over. Production levels in its eight major countries rocketed up 11.9% in 2015 to 535 features. Total box office gross is up 10.5% in Mexico, 26.2% in Argentina, 13.4% in Brazil and 7.4% in Colombia, through Nov. 3 this year, said Luis B. Vargas, Comscore executive director, Latin America. But the local Latin American movie industry’s cutting edge-driver, involving companies among Ventana Sur habitués, is a new, if still highly select, breed of powerful, accessible art films with amped-up budgets, multiple partner co-production, star presence or star directors, mainstream tropes and wider audience ambitions. Think “Wild Tales,” “The Clan,” Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda,” and now, upcoming, Santiago Mitre’s “The Summit,” Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama” and Gaz Alazraki’s “Almost Paradise.” The large question is how many more such titles can emerge at this year’s Ventana Sur. Read this space for an answer.

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