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CinémaLab 2012: a bridge between Latin American cinema and Europe


- Besides its Cinema in Development and Cinema under Construction events, the 24th Rencontres de Toulouse also include a third activity for industry professionals from Europe and Latin America: the fourth edition of its CinémaLab.

Besides its Cinema in Development and Cinema under Construction events, the 24th Rencontres de Toulouse (read more) also includes a third activity for industry professionals from Europe and Latin America: the fourth edition of its CinémaLab.

The workshop aims to promote the visibility of Latin American films in Europe and European films in Latin America, by training professional distributors from both continents and strengthening networks between them. A sister workshop will be held on the other side of the Atlantic in six months' time at the Valdivia Film Festival (Chile).

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On March 28, the training started with several members of the European Distribution and Exhibitors Network (EDEN) presenting possible models of distribution for Latin American films in Europe. Here are some of the most innovative suggestions:

Tess Renaudo and Yolanda Viñals explained their work at Paseo Films, a cultural association created this year with a mission to distribute and promote "invisible" author cinema in Spain, in a series of alternative venues to those traditionally used for film screenings, like, for example, cultural centres, museums, and universities, or online festivals.

Tanja Miličić presented the new programming strategy for Kino Valli, the heir to the Kino Zagreb that reopened in 2008. The cinema shows commercial and author films, holds festivals, and organises programmes for schools.

Stien Miesters and Maureen Prins (read the interview from the last CinémaLab) came all the way from the Netherlands to present Solar World Cinema. They aim to bring solar-powered mobile cinemas from the Benelux, where they have been travelling around since 2006, to Europe and then to the world. Miesters and Prins are planning for a sister project to be called El Niño Solar (lit. "The sun child") to be launched in Latin America in 2012.

Francesca Bolognesi explained the French Academy in Rome's role in screening films in English. Paul Ridd spoke about distribution company Picturehouse Entertainment and its distribution strategies for author cinema in the five cinemas where he works as a programmer. Last but not least, Justas Prascevicius talked about Kino Pasaka, a cinema that doubles up as a distribution company in Vilnius, Lithuania (read last year's interview with his colleague).

The rest of the meetings took place on March 31, at the end of the two days of Cinema under Construction (during which La sirga, directed by Colombian filmmaker William Andrés Vega and co-produced by French company Ciné Sud, received two out of three awards).

Ileana Cecanu, the director of Transilvania Films, then spoke about the current obstacles to film screening in Romania. She in particular stressed the importance of the country's National Cinema Centre in the production of films not as affected by piracy as commercial films, and in the good results of mobile cinemas compared to those of traditional screening venues (read more).

Zsuzsi Bankuti, from Hungary's leading distribution company of arthouse films CirkoFilm, talked of the cinema industry's uncertain future, in a country where films are mostly screened in Budapest and exhibitors elsewhere struggle to keep cinemas open, notably because of the high cost of digitisation.

David Cenek, the Czech programmer for Aerofilms, then presented the situation in one of the few countries where national film production figures are cause for optimism. In the Czech Republic, initiatives such as special programmes, festivals, and retrospectives have yielded better results than traditional cinemas, he said, although Latin American films have yet to find their place in the country, and some film clubs still struggle to survive after socialism.

Caroline Turcot, board member at the Mediterranean Film Club Federation, then spoke more in detail about film clubs. She stressed the need for volunteers to promote these types of activities, even in France, a country that continues to be a role model for the rest of Europe, despite the uncertain future of its support system (read more).

Fellow-countrywoman Maud Auzat Bonassi, a co-founder of M for Media, then presented an exhaustive analysis of the different exhibition and reproduction rights that sales agents and distributors should pay attention to when signing contracts. After her came Piotr Kobus, the Polish executive director of distribution company Mañana Films, specialised in distributing and organising activities for Spanish-language films in Poland. After explaining in detail circles to break into to promote an editorial line, Kobus presented a case study of The Milk of Sorrow [+see also:
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Jonathan Perchal, from Artificial Eye, spoke at length about the new distribution methods and contract clauses that have appeared over the last few years, as well as how they have been dealt with in the United Kingdom. Rachel Monteiro then explained all about Cinema do Brasil's available aid for the European distributors of Brasilian films, while Olivia Le Dain described Europa Distribution International's support to the distributors in its network.

The training event, organised together with Europa Distribution and the CICAE, is different because it "brings distributors and cinemas closer together," according to its coordinator Eva Morsch Kihn. The latter highlighted the importance of bringing Latin American cinema to the Old Continent, as well as showing perspective when evaluating progress in film distribution in Central and Eastern Europe, territories far removed from the reality of distribution in France or Germany. In this sense, the distribution of the film Marimbas from Hell in territories like Croatia (Kino Valli) and Lithuania (Kino Pasaka) is an inspiring example for the event's next editions.

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