Look out Netflix! After decades of underdistribution, Latin American countries are finally taking their cinematic destinies into their own hands and developing a free VOD platform exclusively for Latin American cinema. You heard right: that means you will have the entire filmographies of countries such as Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay at your fingertips, 24-hours a day, to watch, re-watch, fall asleep while watching and start watching again in the morning. Well, at least we hope so. Anyone who’s tried to watch Hulu outside of the U.S. knows that the wacky world of international distribution rights can really ruin your Netflix dates while traveling overseas, and unfortunately it’s still not totally clear in what markets the platform will be available.
Either way, the initiative is being coordinated and supervised by the Colombian Ministry of Culture — which for several years has been positioning Colombia as a regional cinematic superpower — and has thus far managed to bring the film institutes of five other Latin American countries on board for the project. At present the platform finds itself in an early consultancy phase, but its mission is clear: counteract the lack of distribution windows for their national cinemas using the power of technology.
Previously, Remezcla contributors have written at length about the challenges Latin American films face in finding international distribution, victims of antiquated business models and Eurocentric biases. We’ve also felt your frustration at not being able to track down many of the films we write about as they make the rounds through the festival circuit. But now, thanks to this visionary project, an immense back catalogue of Latin American films that ended up banished to distribution purgatory will have a second life and a whole new audience.
Naturally there are plenty of details to hammer out–such as whether or not they can make the platform available outside of its member countries–and this type of platform may not necessarily be attractive for a film that has a lot of commercial potential outside of Latin America. Thus, IP addresses permitting, we still may not immediately be seeing some of the bigger hits that are already on services like Netflix or HBO GO, but at least audiences can count on seeing films that have traditionally had trouble finding distribution, like documentaries and shorts.
A soft launch of the platform is planned for September, so expect more word on the initiative’s progress in the coming months. In the meantime, start preparing yourself for a lifetime of binge-watching en Español.