By Amanda Sayeg
Latin America’s film industry breaks records every year with a rich and diverse market lead by Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile; with successful movies like Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn’s The Distinguished Citizen, Paolo Genovese’s Perfect Strangers, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius, Carlos del Castillo’s Between Sea and Land and Pablo’s Larraín’s Neruda.
Despite intense political and economic crisis, the local productions grow and art films stand out in the festival circuits worldwide. From the north side, the scenario also looks very bright; the lack of diversity in the U.S. industry is contributing to the loss of relevance of its products, therefore opening space to international content.
However, even with such a favorable scene, it seems difficult to compete against North American blockbusters. The mainstream market is still heavily concentrated and dominated by Hollywood. We can see it in box-office figures as well as the thousands of talented filmmakers and producers (and actors) like Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Sofia Vergara, Zoe Saldana, Ernesto Derbez and Jose Padilha who find in the U.S. the structure to pursue a career that doesn’t seem profitable in their home countries.
While the international market has become a major source of revenue for Hollywood, Latin American films get very limited distribution. You rarely see a Colombian film in Venezuela, a Peruvian film in Colombia, or a Chilean film in Guatemala. And since it is nearly impossible to watch those movies outside of festival screenings, it’s difficult for the filmmakers to sell enough tickets to recover their investment.
Although the interest in local films is increasing considerably, they still don’t bring enough audiences to their cinemas, and only a few films are being distributed outside of their own countries. Once communities fully embrace their local artists, this is simply the first step of the greater process of achieving community-wide appreciation that expands globally, finally giving a voice to those artists that are now becoming relevant and competitive with the giants in Hollywood. However, local communities need to continue to celebrate the success of Latin artists and they need to continue to promote and embrace the voice of the next generation.
*Amanda Sayeg is a Brazilian director and producer that has always had a passion for the arts and sought to make a difference by creating groundbreaking original work. Her desire to pursue a career in the industry led her to L.A, where she has continuously fallen in love each day with all the intricacies of storytelling.