There are a few ways to measure the growth and health of a national industry. You can look to raw numbers like box office figures, budgets, and number of films produced each year; or you can look to indicators like representation in top-tier film festivals, awards, and name-brand directors to get a sense of the quality and depth of that output. Alternately, you can just look at how many films that country has representing in Netflix’s international catalogue.
Admittedly, this isn’t the most scientific of measures, but, given that Netflix opens up a potential market of millions of viewers across the world, it does speak volumes about the projection of a given industry. By this standard, we can now say that Costa Rican cinema is officially on the map, as 190 countries have been giving streaming access to the director Esteban Ramírez’s prison love story Presos.
Famous for being the country’s first-ever entry for Academy Awards consideration, Presos is the fictional story of a young girl who sparks up an intimate friendship with an inmate, and must deal with the consequences from her overbearing family. Complemented by slick cinematography, naturalistic performances, and a cast of real-life prisoners to add a touch of verisimilitude to the film’s gritty setting, the story caught the imagination of Tico filmgoers and dominated the Costa Rican box office in early 2016.
Presos joins Ixcanul (Volcano) as the second Central American film to be picked up for distribution by the streaming giant. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of the 190 countries where the film will be available, but that’s only because Presos locked in yet another exclusive deal with HBO for the US market. Still, we can most likely look forward to streaming access on HBO GO before too long.
Presos will be available for US streaming in August.