Latin American film commissions team up

Create regional entity to increase business, exposure

BUENOS AIRES -- Latin American film commissions have united to create a regional network charged with a mandate to foster new business and build exposure for the continent's film industry.

The long-gestating idea, inspired by the European Film Commission and the Association of Film Commissions International, was finally born at a meeting at the recent Locations Trade Show in Santa Monica.

This is the first time these commissions have come together to act as a regional entity. In recent years, the tendency toward collective action and continental consensus has had a pre-eminent role in the region's economical trade as well as in resolving major political conflicts.

The network's initial goals include offering foreign producers a variety of locations for their productions; creating mechanisms for one single production to be carried out in several Latin American cities; having a wider global exposure (through media, marketing and promotion); strengthening foreign producers' confidence in the region; and consolidating every film commission's relation with government and nongovernment organisms.

The network also will allow members to share information on problem resolution, and it plans to establish a "cineposium"-type of training program. Organizers see this networking as a useful tool since many of the commissions are in their infancy; the Peruvian Film Commission, for example, was launched by the country's Foreign Office just a month ago.

Among the upcoming initiatives are an annual calendar of events and a weekly newsletter that will cover all of the network members. Also, every film commission will provide information on productions taking place in their countries and on Latin American producers who are working.

The information could be used to study the economic and social impact of productions and how this buoys other areas -- mainly tourism.

Although the legal structure of the organization has not been finalized yet, their next big push comes off as a natural first step. "We agreed that right now were not going to have a legal person but we will combine together to start working and deliver some definitive action toward a joint participation in the Locations Trade Show next year," said Joo Roni, president of SANTACINE, the Film Industry Union of Santa Catarina, in Brazil.

The notion of forming the network originally came from a former Mexican commissioner and was then picked up by Brazilian representatives. The idea started to gain momentum again at the 2009 LTS, where Argentine rep Ana Aizemberg, head of the Buenos Aires Film Commission, called for a single shared stand at the next LTS. That rekindled interest in forming the network. Later that year, in Cannes, Aizenberg met with Brazilian reps and they agreed to summon the rest. The meeting with other Latin American representatives in Buenos Aires during the Ventana Sur market in November reinforced their will. And so, early this year at the last LTS, they all planned together a first official conference of film commissions to be held in Florianopolis during the FAM, which would end up being the networks official kickoff.

The three-day event was organized by SANTACINE and ABRAFIC (Brazil Film Commissions Alliance) with the support of the Florianopolis City Hall and the Buenos Aires Film Commission (BACF), and it held conferences and talks between representatives from Buenos Aires (Ana Aizenberg), Mexico (Mauricio Pedroza), Mexico City (Alexa Moz), Baja California (Gabriel Del Valle), Colombia (Silvia Echeverri), Panama (Georgette Constantino), Uruguay (Lucila Bortagaray), Chile (Patricio Parraguez), Peru (Gabriela Yepes), Rio de Janeiro (Steve Solot), Sao Paulo (Eder Mazini), Santos (Sammel de Castro), Gois (Claudia Costa), Bahia (Alessandra Pastore), Minas Gerais (Carolina Gontijo), Amazonas (Seleyna Borges), Brasilia (Ana Cristina Costa e Silva) and Maranho (Nan de Souza).