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Few European arthouse-crossover film sales agents have better weathered the ebb and flow of international market dynamics than Madrid’s Latido Films, which turns 20 in 2023.
Proof of that came at April’s Platino Awards, where Latido scored six statuettes, split between an acting double for Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s “Lullaby” and four for Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Beasts,” which has already swept Spain’s Goya Awards and scored a French Cesar for foreign film.
Scoring €6.8 million ($7.5 million) in Spain, and 327,000 admissions in France, “The Beasts” also rates as one of the top-performing recent Spanish-language movies.
If Latido has survived for so long, insists director general Antonio Saura, it’s because of a core strategy of “working with talent, our search for talent.” Beyond that, other keys have been “collaboration with production companies that understand long-term relationships, and well-established relationships with clients.”
Companies with which Latido has held or holds multi-pic relationships include prime movers of the Spanish-language movie scene: Latido founding partner Tornasol, Sorogoyen (from his first solo feature, 2016’s “May God Save Us” through “The Kingdom” and “The Beasts”), A Contracorriente Films (an international sales-Spanish distribution alliance), Arantxa Echeverría (“Carmen & Lola,” now “Chinas”), La Claqueta (“Alegría,” “Tobacco Barns”) and Morena Films (some seven pics, including “Campeones” and now Latido’s Cannes 2023 highlight “ChampioNext”).
In Latin America, Colombia’s 64-A Films (“Killing Jesus,” “Dog- washers”), Argentina’s Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn (“The Distinguished Citizen,” “My Masterpiece,” “4×4”) and Chile’s Pepa San Martin (“Rara,” “Happiness”) have been repeat partners.
Another key, Saura maintains, is flexibility. Latido hit the ground running, handling Andrés Wood’s “Machuca” (2004), Carlos Saura’s “Fados” and Argentine Juan José Campanella’s Oscar-winner “The Secret in Their Eyes” (2009), all tapped from its Latido production partners. Under Silvia Iturbe, who took over from Massimo Saidel, it saw further success with “Chinese Takeaway,” again from Argentina. As global steamers have revolutionized business models, Latido Films has broadened its compass, inking pacts with top Latin American talent as global streamers have upended business models. “Our pursuit of quality doesn’t mean we only focus on arthouse.
We’re open to a diversity of tastes and audiences, to different forms and styles,” says Saura, who took the top Latido Films post in 2015. Latido Films’ current Cannes slate, for example, mixes dramas — Elena Trape’s “The Enchanted” — with Daniel Calparsoro’s action thriller “All the Names of God,” which has pre-sold robustly, and “ChampioNext,” a sequel to Javier Fesser’s broad audience comedy “Champions,” which grossed $23.1 million in Spain, selling to over 50 countries.
Latido has plowed into remake sales, selling “Champions” to the U.S. for the Woody Harreslson remake, and saw large success with Salvador Simó’s “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of Tortoises.” It also has a strong line in genre, selling “The Platform” to Netflix, where it rates as the streamer’s No. 3 most- watched non-English film ever, and rolling out healthy sales on Gustavo Hernández’s “Virus 32.” At Cannes this year, Latido will offer a €15,000 ($16,700) prize to the winner at the Marché’s Fantastic Pavilion.
The international market, meanwhile, evolves at a vertiginous pace, from platform pull- back on original production to, as Saura notes, new regulations in multiple territories adapting legislation to government directives. “Our task now is even more important: To help producers to navigate this ‘new’ world and secure the best results for their movies in the international arena,” says Saura.
He can bring to the table his own background, as head of the Media Business School, an E.U. training and research initiative.
Amid uncertainty, one thing is certain, Saura says: “Movies with- out a clear target are having more difficulties.”
Latido Films Timeline, 2003-23
Latido Films is founded by three of Spain’s top independent production companies: Gerardo Herrero and Mariela Besuievsky’s Tornasol, José Velasco and Antonio Saura’s Zebra Producciones and Pancho Casal’s Continental, taking advantage of new export incentives offered by Spain’s Ministry of Culture and ICEX Spain Trade and Investment.
A former head of sales and then European acquisitions and co-productions at TF1 Intl., Massimo Saidel heads up the operation.
Latido sees strong sales on Colombia’s Sergio Cabrera’s “The Art of Losing,” Andrés Wood’s political coming-of-age drama “Machuca,” Joaquin Oristrell’s ironic period comedy “Unconscious,” and Argentine toon feature “Paturozito.”
Carlos Saura’s sumptuous dance doc “Fados” licenses much of Latin America, having closed France (TF1) and Japan, on its way to fulsome sales.
Sony Pictures Classics acquires all North American rights to helmer Juan Jose Campanella’s arthouse standout “The Secret in Their Eyes,” Argentina’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar category, which it goes on to win.
Feb.: Having virtually sold out “The Secret in Their Eyes,” Saidel ankles as Latido international sales partner at Latido to assume a new role as cultural attache for media at the French Embassy in Rome. Miren Zamora is upped to head of international sales; Silvia Iturbe continues as general director.
Sept.: Juan Torres joins Latido as a sales executive.
May. Having topped Argentine B.O. charts, “Chinese Take-Away,” produced by Tornasol and starring Ricardo Darín, like “Eyes,” hits Cannes, proving a large sales success for Latido.
As austerity measures hit hard public sector aid to Spain and production levels fall, Iturbe guides Latido’s diversification into non-Latino films.
After Iturbe leaves Latido in Dec. 2014, Antonio Saura, co-deputy chair of the European Film Academy and a former head of the Madrid-based Media Business School, joins as its new director general, with full creative control.
Miren Zamora decides to leave the company Juan Torres is promoted to head of sales.
May: Latido announces the acquisition of worldwide sales rights to upscale mainstream director Javier Fesser’s comedy “Campeones” (“Champions”), a Morena Films production and, in Saura’s words, “an utter joy ride for Latido.”
April 6: Universal Pictures launches “Champions” in Spain, kicking-off a stellar commercial career in which the film cummed €19.03 million ($20.7 million) and 3.3 million tickets sold at home box office, being sold to over 50 countries by Latido.
Feb. 2. The 33rd Spanish Academy Goya Awards ceremony marks a major triumph for Latido, with three films picked up by the sales agency scoring 13 Goya wins, taking in those for “Champions,” Sorogoyen’s “The Realm” and Arantxa Echevarría’s “Carmen & Lola.”
Sept.: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s “The Platform” wins the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at Toronto’s Midnight Madness. Netflix stepped in promptly to acquire the dystopian allegory from Latido, becoming soon the platform’s No. 3 most-watched non-English film ever.
June 22: Latido takes international to omnibus feature “Relatos Con-fin-a-dos” (“Tales of the Lockdown”), produced by Morena during the COVID-19 lockdown in Spain, which makes its world market premiere at Cannes Marché du Film Online.
Nov. 15. Latido teams with Colombia’s 64-A Films to develop, produce and distribute premium TV and platform series, an alliance that builds on the partners’ collaboration on hit movies such as Laura Mora’s “Killing Jesus” and Carlos Moreno’s “Lavaperros.”
Dec. 16. Following the successful path plowed by the first part of the saga, Latido re-teams with Spanish star Santiago Segura, Atresmedia and Warner to handle family comedy “A todo tren 2” (“The Kids Are Alright 2”).
Feb. 11. Latido-sold “The Beasts” sweeps Spanish Academy Goya Awards, scooping nine prizes including film, director, and original screenplay.
Feb. 14. Fesser’s “Championext” (“Campeonex”), anticipated follow-up to “Champions,” is acquired for international sales by Latido.
Feb. 24. “The Beasts” wins best foreign film at the 48th Cesar Awards, confirming expectations generated after its performance at the French box office, grossing a robust $2.1 million since its July 6 theatrical release, distributed by Le Pacte.
The Latido lineup, 2023: Antonio Saura, director general; Juan Torres, head of sales; Nathalie Curutchet, sales executive; Oscar Alonso, head of acquisitions; Javier de la Fuente, administration; Francesca Perrin library; Mario Vera, marketing.
Latido’s shareholding has also evolved. Backed by two Galician savings banks, Zebra Producciones is now José Velasco’s Iniciativas Digitales. Independent distributor Syldavia has taken over Tornasol. A Contracorriente Films, one of Spain’s biggest independent distributors, has also boarded as a partner, allowing Latido to sometimes rep titles internationally whose Spanish distribution is handled by a parent. A useful synergy.