Magazine article Variety

Latin Pic Biz Fuels Up

Magazine article Variety

Latin Pic Biz Fuels Up

Article excerpt

If you're looking for proof that Hollywood is building ties to the rapidly growing Mexican film industry, one of the most vibrant in Latin America, look no further than the 29th Guadalajara Festival, which unfolds March 21-30 in the Jalisco city.

Companies set to attend the fest include Mundial, a joint venture between Canana and Hollywood-based indie IM Global; AG Studio, which has companies in Los Angeles, Mexico City and now Brazil and Colombia; and U.S.-based Fox Inti. Channels, said festival market and industry director Estrella Araiza, who added that European shingles including Global Screen (Germany), Imagina (Spain) and Elle Driver (France), also will be on hand.

There's good reason for the interest. In 2013, Mexican box office shot up 11.5% to $901.6 million, per IHS Screen Digest, making Mexico the 10th largest theatrical market in dollar grosses in the world, fueled by a new phenomenon - local blockbusters, led by Pantelion's "Instructions Not Included."

Between 2012 and 2013, the number of features made in Mexico has leapt from 68 to 105, said Luis Vargas, Rentrak managing director for Mexico. It's a wave driven by improved funding and emerging talent: There has been a 40% year-to-year increase in state support, via tax incentives capped at 700 million pesos ($53 million), and a new wave of film directors being trained by a growing number of film schools (and inspired by a local hero, Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron).

The growth of the country's filmmaking community also is apparent in the Guadalajara fest lineup: 12 of the 16 Mexican movies competing for the Mezcal Prize - the top award at the festival - are from firstor second-time helmers, most notably debutant Max Zunino, whose "Open Cage" topped both the 2013 Guadalajara and Ventana Sur pics-in-post competitions; and Sebastian del Amo, whose "Cantinflas" marks a follow-up to biopic "The Fantastic World of Juan Orol. …

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