Ibermedia pivotal in South American market

Spanish-language fund finances 60-70 features annually

When Peru scored a foreign-language Oscar nomination for "Milk of Sorrow" this year, it was in large part thanks to an investment entity that operates out of Spain.

Pan-regional film fund Ibermedia has played a crucial role in getting many South American projects off the ground, especially in such places as Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay, where the industries lean heavily on co-production financing mechanisms.

"Sorrow" is a case in point. The movie was a co-production by Spanish shingles Wanda Vision and Oberon Cinematografica, along with Peru's Vela Producciones. Wanda Vision executive producer Jose Maria Morales says that support from Ibermedia was fundamental in moving the production forward.

Ibermedia was established in 1997 at a gathering in Venezuela known as the Conference of Ibero-American Film and Audiovisual Authorities, or CAACI. The meeting brought together top-ranking film officials seeking to form a collective fund for the production of Spanish- and Portuguese-language projects. Since then, Ibermedia has become a key financing option, as evidenced by the growing number of films it backs each year.

 

In its first year operating as a film fund in 1998, Ibermedia supported 15 projects; today the program provides financing for 60-70 features annually.

Funding for the Ibermedia program comes from annual contributions made by film institutes of member nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal. Each country makes a yearly commitment of at least $100,000, though some of the larger film-producing nations like Spain and Brazil contribute much more than the minimum amount required. The sum of the contributions goes toward development grants and loans for co-productions, with Madrid-based CAACI overseeing the fund.

Ibermedia supports projects in various stages of the filmmaking process, including development, production, distribution, exhibition and promotion.

Some notable features that have received recent funding are Pablo Larrain's "Post Mortem" from Chile, Daniel Burman's "Dos Hermanos" and Pablo Trapero's "Carancho" from Argentina, as well as Pablo Stoll's "Tres" from Uruguay. Ibermedia recipients that have fared particularly well lately include the Peru-Colombia co-production "Undertow" and the Uruguay-Argentina- Spain-Germany collaboration "Giant."

Opening distribution windows, particularly for small indie films, presents one of the biggest challenges for Ibermedia, moving forward. Addressing that need, the organization recently launched a new program, Ibermedia TV, that allows Ibero-American public broadcasters to acquire rights to a block of 52 features a year for $35,000. Ibermedia TV aims to help Spanish- and Portuguese-language pictures that have struggled to gain exposure beyond their markets.

"These are films that are doing well at festivals, but have had difficulty reaching audiences," says Ibermedia technical secretary Elena Vilardell.
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