Amanda Ospina, Director and Editor of TVMAS, talks exclusively with Ralph Haiek, President of INCAA, about cinema and TV. A professional with a brilliant career for more than 30 years in the international field of audiovisual content
To interview the President of the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (by its acronym INCAA) of Argentina, leads me to investigate, but most of all, to narrate. Argentina is a country that has put the cinema, series, formats and documentaries in the world-wide domain, arriving at the “Academy” awards with seven nominations, two of which reached the Oscar award. La Historia Oficial directed by Luis Puenzo and scripted by Aída Bortnik and El secreto de Sus Ojos directed by Juan José Campanella and which competed as best foreign film with Peru, “La Teta Asustada”, the Israeli “Ajami”, the French “Un Profeta” and the German “La Cinta Blanca.”
For the past two years, you have held the presidential chair of this important institution in a country, which has focused on issues of development and international audiovisual content business. Let’s start with the laws and the main incentives for movies and series. How much does the wallet amount to this year 2019?
The main law that governs our activity and gives rise to the creation of our institute is Law 17741, which has served more than 60 years and has had several modifications. The total budget of the Institute is 3.3 billion Argentine pesos and the one dedicated to the promotion of films and series is 1.6 billion pesos.
Of the bilateral or collateral agreements for the development and prosperity of cinema and series, which are part of your creation, your proposal and your thrust?
I think that Ventana Sur has become a tool for progress and updating. It is very important to keep Argentina close to the rest of the world to boost our talents that, through content, of the stories, link us to innovation. We are the first country in Latin America to join the Eurimages fund, co-production agreements during Latin Arab meetings, help boost the Industry section of the Malaga Festival. Undoubtedly, Ventana Sur, which is today the most important market in Latin America, has become an indisputable point of reference and a key space to close agreements. For example, in the last edition of Ventana Sur, last November, we achieved nine cooperation agreements, with Spain, Luxembourg, Mexico, Brussels, Latin America and countries that we did not have on the radar, but that today represent valuable opportunities.
What are the main obstacles to be solved by the Argentine film industry? I ask you this question, because in Latin America resources are allocated for production, but not for marketing and exhibition…
It is true. The issue of distribution and exhibition worries us. That’s why we put the focus on the development of Cine.ar, the platform of series and films that can be seen for free or, in the case of premieres, simultaneously for the price of the value of an economic ticket in the cinemas of the Espacios INCAA. Regarding the issue of marketing, it is also what we promote through the support of more than a hundred Festivals in Argentina and in supporting the presence of content in the main festivals and markets in the world. And of course, with the consolidation of spaces such as the Mar del Plata Festival and Ventana Sur.
How much did Argentina’s box office accumulate in 2018 and, especially, what were the box office genres? Because in Mexico for example, their films accumulate important figures at the box office and undertake their distribution in the United States and international markets.
Last year the total number of viewers of Argentine films was 6,826,801, with a share of 15.6%, the highest in a long time. The total audience in the movie theaters went down, but those who go to see Argentine cinema are more. This reaffirms the interest in the films that are produced in Argentina.
What does Latin American cinema need to compete in the big leagues?
Argentine cinema is in the top 5 for its presence in festivals and international recognition. But perhaps cinema in general, in the region, lacks a more global view. Both to think and to offer its products. And this is what we debate in the panels of Ventana Sur, which offer a broader panorama so that not only Argentina, but all Latin America can compete.
What are the government’s projects with Argentine cinema and the fiction series on promotion?
So far this year Argentina had more than 55 national premieres among feature films and documentaries, almost all with support from INCAA. At the same time, they began shooting 25 productions, among which there are twelve co-productions. These are record figures, that within a complex economic context, we find it very encouraging for the industry. With regard to fiction series, INCAA holds competitions every year for development and production for short and high impact series.
Ralph Haiek is a big man in everything. In stature, in creativity, in numbers, in execution, in the capacity and vision that he has for audiovisual content, but especially for the developments of his country. Big man in the valuation of creativity to promote a powerful industry, which promotes commerce, music, the internationalization of artists and talents, tourism and most of all, Argentine culture. That’s Haiek, the creator of a huge window like him. Ventana Sur, is an initiative that seeks to grow for the benefit of Latin America and for the circulation of content in Spanish worldwide.
Economist, administrator of companies such as MuchMusic Latin America and signals such as I.Sat, Space, Infinito, Retro, FashionTV, HTV and Playboy. Haiek is convinced that you always have to keep up with change. And in that he continues and in that he will be.