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Sonia Arispe • Distributor

Peru: Trying to open doors


Sonia Arispe  • Distributor

While some annual state funds do exist in Peru for film production, the money is scarce and all Peruvian filmmakers compete for it. When it comes to distribution and exhibition, however, not just of domestic films but of any independent movie shown in the country, there is absolutely no support. This would not to be so serious if the market were more democratic, but it is not.

In Peru, 95% of film distribution is tied to the big studios and their multiplex theatres. Thus, only 5% belongs to independent distributors – who have only one arthouse cinema in which to show local titles and international films.

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This cinema is Lima’s El cinematógrafo de Barranco and is run by Sonia Arispe, who participated in the first Cine Sin Fronteras meeting in Mexico City. For over 21 years, she and her husband, also her business partner, have been fighting to make more room for independent movies.

“In Peru, independent distributors face many problems in trying to show their movies in commercial theatres. When they do manage, it’s very common for those films to be taken down after a short period of time because they don’t bring in as many viewers as required”, said Arispe, who believes building up new audiences is very important. “We have to create a system that allows a diversity of films, new circuits to build up viewers. Developing a new audience is vital, as is the use of digital technology in new distribution and exhibition chains”.

Although these problems are identical to those of other Latin American countries, they are perhaps worse in Peru. According to Arispe, “Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia have even more diversity than we do. Peru needs even more support”. Hence, she is very positive about Cine Sin Fronteras and its proposals to help distribution in Latin America and Europe through mutual efforts.

“We closed the first meeting with a first agreement on the creation of a network that allows for the circulation of European and Latin American films between the two regions. I´m looking forward to our next meeting in Toulouse”, she added.

This agreement will help the commercial distribution of European cinema in Peru –which today accounts for 1% of all distributed films – and perhaps beyond. “Now that Europe has heard about Peruvian cinema for the first time, at the latest Berlin Film Festival, where Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow [+see also:
film review
film profile
won the Golden Bear, many doors will probably open”, concluded Arispe.

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