Made in Argentina

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Argentina has always ranked among South America's top film- and television-producing nations, so it should come as no surprise that its audiovisual sector delivers impressive infrastructure and plenty of know-how.

On average, the local film industry produces about 75 features annually, including a fair share of international co-productions. Recent foreign shoots include Francis Ford Coppola's "Tetro" and James Ivory's "The City of Your Final Destination."

Michael Nozik, producer of 2004's "The Motorcycle Diaries," points out that Argentina offers skilled crews, affordable services and a familiar production system.

"You get a lot of bang for your buck there," he says. "And the system has been built reminiscent of the English and American systems, so it's fairly familiar."

Unfortunately, Argentina has no fiscal incentives for foreign producers, however, the cost-efficient services keep expenses down considerably, as was the case with the reported $10 million production of "Diaries." Historically, Argentine cinema has relied considerably on state financing and international co-productions.

As a complement to the national film commission, Argentina has created the Buenos Aires Film Commission to meet the needs of producers looking to shoot in the nation's capital. Ana Aizenberg, who worked as a production associate on 1997's "Seven Years in Tibet" (which also shot in the country), will head the commission, which will be officially unveiled in April at the Locations Trade Show.

Aizenberg says the upstart commission is seeking to get a tax incentives law passed in Congress. In the meantime, it is concentrating on a promotional campaign to lure more foreign productions to Buenos Aires.

"It's been much easier to get big commercials and harder to bring big film productions here," she says. "The problem is that we don't have enough publicity. We are really working hard to prepare Buenos Aires for big productions because you just don't see the city enough in films as you might see New York, Paris or London."

Filmmaker Roland Joffe plans to film his latest drama, "There Be Dragons," in Argentina this year. In the 1980s, Joffe shot scenes of "The Mission" in Argentina. Historias Cinematografias, Academy Award-winning Argentine filmmaker Luis Puenzo's production company, is likely to provide production services when filming begins this year.

Foreign television producers also have found Argentina to their liking. Disney's Argentine partner Pol-ka Producciones produced Spanish-language versions of "Desperate Housewives" for Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and the U.S. Hispanic market. Pol-ka also produced the successful crime drama series "Epitafios" with HBO Latin America.

Sony Pictures Television International also works with Pol-ka and has produced remakes like "The Nanny" for Argentine network Telefe. Sony says it's looking to boost production of comedic telenovelas in Argentina as it moves away from remakes.
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