The « Caméra d’or » award attributed to the French-Columbian movie « La tierra y la sombra » directed by Cesar Acevedo, during last Cannes Film Festival brought to light the cinematographic relationships between the two countries, and more widely the relationships between France and Latin America. Indeed, every year plenty of films are coproduced between France and Argentina, Columbia, Mexico or Chile. Therefore we are going to linger on the links between France and Latin America and the possibilities resulting from such link within the context of film coproductions.
France-Argentina : a strong relationship
If in Argentina French cinema stays far behind the North-American production, it anyway represents approximately an average 1 million annual entrances for the period 1995-2010.
Mostly, on a cultural level, French cinema has a great importance in Argentina. Thus, the Buenos Aires international festival of independent cinema (BAFICI) consecrates 10 % of its programming to French films, and the Argentinian festivals dedicated to French cinema encounter a great success. As an example the Festival « Avant Première » (Preview) dedicated to French movies is an impressive achievement with a seat occupancy rate above 80% and an exceptional media coverage.
Finally it is to be noted that since 2008 an exchange program exists between the Cinema University of Buenos Aires and the FEMIS in Paris, who comes to reinforce the link between France and Argentina.
We have to enlighten that since 1984 the countries benefit from a coproduction agreement with pretty flexible terms. In fact « the proportions contributed by the respective co-producer(s) of each country shall be between 20% (twenty percent) and 80% (eighty percent). However, with the consent of the competent authorities of both countries, the minority co-producer’s contribution may be reduced to 10% (ten percent). » The essential condition that remains being that « All co-production films shall involve the effective artistic and technical participation of each country in proportion to such country’s investment ».
L’ Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisual, Argentinian equivalent of the CNC in France, has a selective support fund, which should not be reimburse. With an annual budget of 4,25 millions euros it contributes to finance the projects up to 500 000 euros, without any location of the expenditures.
Argentina is also a country that actively seeks the support of the CNC - Fonds Sud Cinema and benefits from an important backing with more than 50 supported projects since the creation of the fund.
Colombie: new collaborations & success
The signature in 2013 of a new coproduction agreement between France and Columbia put into light the will of the relevant authorities regarding the reinforcement of the cooperation between both their countries.
Thus, this new agreement has softened the financial conditions of the coproduction and « The proportions contributed by the respective co-producer(s) of each country shall be between 20% (twenty percent) and 80% (eighty percent) » while they used to be 30%/70%.
The evolution of the measures is really successful, notably with the selection of Franco Lolli’s movie « Gente de bien » for Cannes Critics week in 2014, which drew more than 50 000 viewers in France and the award attributed to « La tierra y la sombra » during last Cannes Film Festival.
It is to be highlighted that since the adoption of a new law for the cinematographic field in 2003, the Columbian production is expanding and went from 4 features films per year to 16 movies produced in 2013 and even 28 movies in 2014.
Thus Colombia offers different support regarding the cinematographic production : in the one hand a fund from the Columbian minister for Culture and in the other a tax rebate mechanism.
The fund provided by the Minister for Culture has a pretty low annual budget (4,22 Millions euros) but does not provide any condition regarding the location of the expenditures and also does not require the reimbursement of the granted funds.
The tax incentive mechanism is handled by the Proimagenes Colombian Film Commission and has 11,5 millions euros annual budget. This tax mechanism offers a cash rebate or cash reimbursement for films partially or totally produced in Columbia. Two applicable rates can be considered: 40% for the « film services » expenses (services related to audio-visual pre-production, production or post-production including artistic and technical services) and 20% for the expenses related to « film logistic services » (such as hotel, catering and transportation). It is understood that only the amounts spent in the country are to be considered in this mechanism.
France is the main export market for Colombian movies and reciprocally French cinema encounters a certain success within the Colombian spectators. These past years the box office of French movies is Colombia is constantly improving. French movies have even gathered more than 1,5 millions of viewers during the first semester of 2015. The non-commercial French movies screening is also important and represents 72 000 spectators during the same time period, mainly thanks to the festival « Cine Frances en Colombia ».
If both Argentina and Colombia have strong connections with France, the other countries of Latin America shall not be neglected and also benefit from specific coproduction agreements with the CNC.
Some interesting Coproduction Agreements with Latin America :
In addition of its relationships with Argentina and Colombia, France has different coproduction agreements with Latin America such as with Mexico, Chile and Venezuela.
The coproduction agreement with Mexico is the more flexible by requiring that the shares of the coproducers (contribution or participation) remain between 20 and 80%, while the agreements with Chile and Venezuela imply a sharing of the contribution from 30 to 70%. Nethertheless we can underline that the coproduction agreement with Chile states that « the minority co-producer’s share may be reduced to twenty per cent (20 %) subject to the express consent of the competent authorities of the two countries. »
Mexico proposes several financial aids and moreover has a very interesting tax incentives mechanism: MX Eficine, which has an 39 Millions euros annual budget. This tax incentive is selective but is not to be reimbursed and can reach an amount 1,25 millions euros per movie.
The Mexican Film Institute also provides two different support funds: Fidecine and Procine. They have stricter conditions and their annual budgets are much lower, only 4,5 Millions and they support a film ‘s budget no more than up to 500 000 euros.
We can also evoke the partnership that exists between the Mexican institute for Cinema and the CNC who organize together some professional gatherings in Paris and a French-Mexican coproduction workshop.
On the opposite the Chilean funds are very limited and their annual budgets do not exceed 300 000 euros for the writing and 4 millions euros for the production. Both of these funds are very selective and shall be reimburse. Nonetheless some partnerships between France and Chile have been successful such as Marcela Said’s movie « The summer of flying fish » selected for the Directors’ Fortnight during Cannes Films Festival in 2013.
Finally different funds are proposed in Venezuela by the National center for cinematography. This institute has an annual budget of 10,3 millions euros. The aids provided can reach 1,05 millions euros, they are selective and shall be reimburse. Moreover all the allocated sums must be entirely spent in the country. As a proof of the success of the collaboration between France and Venezuela, during San Sebastian Festival in 2013, Mariana Rondon’s film « Pelo Melo » has been rewarded.
In addition it is to be noted that all the countries mentionned in this article are eligible for the aids of the Ibermedia Fund, a selective support for the Spanish-speaking coproductions and notably for the Latin-American production. This fund has an annual budget of 3,8 millions euros and can complete the financing of a film up to 110 000 euros.
It is no exaggeration to conclude by stating that the relationships between France and Latin America are experiencing a significant development and that both French and Latin American audiences very well receive the movies produced. As a consequence, Latin America is to be considered within the perspective of film’s coproduction and offers some interesting opportunities for French producers.