New World festival puts focus on Latin film fare


Latin America's emerging filmmakers will have a new U.S. showcase for their works next year thanks to a partnership un-veiled today at the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema.

The New World Cinema Series, backed by Matson Films and "Transamerica" producer Belladonna Prods., will present six independent Latin American films in 20 U.S. cities during 2009. The traveling festival will visit theaters throughout the country, screening a new film every other month and giving directors an opportunity to travel with the film to speak to the public and the press.

Organizers plan to target markets that have both large Latino populations and crossover potential, like Los Angeles and Miami, but also smaller cities like Bloomington, Indiana and Tucson, Ariz.

"Even though it looks like it is growing, foreign cinema in the U.S. keeps deteriorating and getting smaller. So we thought creating a way to expose American audiences to these cultural voices was important. And it seemed perfect to go after Latin American films," said Richard Matson of New York-based Matson Films, which will distribute the indie flicks.

The series will be financed primarily through corporate sponsors who will put up the print and advertising costs in a one-off payment, giving them brand name and logo rights on posters, trailers and the New World Cinema Series Web site. In turn, all revenue generated at the boxoffice and in DVD sales will go directly to the filmmakers and distributors.

"There needs to be a new marriage between brands and filmed entertainment, and cross-branding seems to be the best way to bring them together," said Belladonna's Rene Bastian, who will oversee the series.

The pre-selection of the submissions will be handled by Streiffschuss Films, which has offices in Buenos Aires and New York.