You know a country has its priorities in order when its tallest building is dedicated neither to national glory nor to international commerce, but rather to the local film and television industry. Argentina, it seems, has its priorities in order. Granted, at a mere 67 stories the building in question doesn’t quite compare to New York’s Freedom Tower, let alone the UAE’s Burj Khalifa, which clocks in at 163 floors and holds the title for largest manmade structure in the world. But when completed, it will be the largest building in Latin America and will house the entirety of Argentina’s film and television industry, with space reserved for schools, museums, offices, production studios and the headquarters of the national film institute, the INCAA. And of course, after images of the winning design were released, Argentina’s meme-makers had a field day and took to the internet with their own interpretations of the building renders.
As one of the top-producers of cinema in the region, Argentina has managed to develop a rather idiosyncratic industry. Over the years, generous state subsidies from the INCAA have made it virtually risk-free to produce a film in the country, and while most productions are received with fanfare at European festivals, they hardly manage to carve out any market share on their home turf. Of late, president Cristina Kirchner has been actively expanding the country’s progressive film policy, signing co-production agreements with its neighbor and cinematic powerhouse Brazil and decentralizing local production with more incentives for production in the country’s interior provinces. Recently the INCAA has also taken on the big Hollywood studios that continue to dominate local screens, passing a regulation requiring major U.S. studios to participate in the distribution of locally produced fare.
Indeed, it seems Argentina is intent on maintaining a healthy local film and television industry despite Hollywood’s continued death grip on international multiplexes. Given that local films are rarely profitable, it’s a position that makes absolutely no sense by U.S. standards. But maybe, just maybe, the $300 million, 1100 ft Argentina Audiovisual skyscraper can be seen as a monument to a fiercely and unapologetically independent national culture. And now all of Latin America will quite literally have something to look up to.