Peruvian Helmers Gain Global Spotlight

Spurred by modest state funds, growing TV support and co-production pacts, filmmaking in Peru is on the rise and with it, a rousing presence on the international stage.

Peruvian pics snagged six awards at March’s Malaga Film Festival and industry component MAFIZ, an unprecedented haul for the event’s country guest of honor.

Plaudits went to Mauricio Frey’s “Estados generales,” Francesca Canepa’s “La otra orilla,” Ximena Valdivia’s “4eber,” documentary “Hatun Phaqcha” by Delia Ackerman and Leonardo Barbuy’s “Diogenes.”

“This is the first time that Peru has brought back so many awards from a single event,” notes Erika Chavez, head of the culture ministry’s audiovisual directorate, DAFO, who points out both national and regional films funds have ticked up since launching alongside Peru’s 2019 Film Law.

“More of us have been actively participating in markets, development labs and co-production forums,” says Enid “Pinky” Campos of Chullachaki Cine, who took teen mother drama “La otra orilla” and Enrica Perez’s “Sobre el acantilado” to Mexico’s Cine Qua Non Script Lab, securing Mexican producers for both — Piano for “La otra orilla” and Martfilms for “Sobre el acantilado.”

Campos is also producing “Soltera Codiciada 2” and docu-fiction hybrid “Quedate quieto,” director Joanna Lombardi’s upcoming films. The former, co-directed with Bruno Ascenzo, is co-produced by Argentina’s Magma Cine and Lombardi’s El Arbol Azul.

“Quedate quieto” is produced with Hernán Musaluppi’s Cimarrón Cine, with Lombardi executive producing. “It was my first time working with natural actors and a really powerful experience,” says Lombardi, who finalizes its post in Chile.

Peru had its first 2023 box office hit with Tondero’s “Asu Mare” spinoff, “Asu Mare! Los amigos,” with 780,000 admissions.

Tondero has just wrapped two films; three are in pre-production, nearly all of them co-productions. It has been co-producing with Spain, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic and now Puerto Rico for the first time, says CEO Miguel Valladares who’s shooting 80% of his directorial debut, youth-targeted musical “Locos de Amor, mi primer amor,” on the Caribbean island.

Peru’s leading broadcaster, América Televisión, has been a key supporter. “They continue to be important for us, co-producing nearly all of our projects,” says Valladares, who adds that product placement is up again, financing up to 30% of their films.

The network’s $30 million studio leased one of its multiple soundstages to “Mistura” by Ricardo Montreuil for a daylong virtual shoot using Unreal Engine technology. Starring Barbara Mori and Christian Meier, the culinary drama, produced by L.A.-based Peruvian Ivan Orlic, shot in Lima for some five weeks, filming in one of the few remaining historical mansions in Lima, the Casa Garcia Alvarado.

Meanwhile, an endearing film about a young Quechuan boy who helps his fellow villagers discover the wonders of cinema, Cesar Galindo’s “Willaq Pirqa,” defied all odds when it opened a day after street protests broke out in Peru in December. But as things calmed down, glowing reviews and word of mouth prompted an expansion of screens and a theater run of more than 14 weeks, scoring 85,000 admissions, unusual for a small film with a non-pro cast and in Quechua, says its producer Jedy Ortega of Casablanca Films.

“The protests [against the government] damaged Peru’s image internationally but tourism and productions are again on the upswing,” says Julio Wissar, producer at University of Lima-based Crea (“Moon Heart”), which co-produced the upcoming “Muerto de risa” by Gonzalo Ladines and “Zafari” by Mariana Rondon. “We continue looking for new international productions that want to produce in Peru with the support of Crea,” Wissar adds.

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