Wedged between Colombia and Costa Rica, Panama offers lush contrasting locations including the legendary 102-year-old Panama Canal connecting the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean.
The country’s cinema history isn›t so old. It goes back at least to Al calor de mi bohío(Carlos Luis Nieto, 1946), takes in some melodramas, ‘60s arthouse, and a remarkable
documentary production vindicate Panamanian ownership of its Canal.
First signs of a modern industry sign was the creation of Asocine foundation, Panama’s main lobby sector. However, it is with the recently passed new Cinema Law when Panama really cries “Action!” Panama’s general director of cinematography, Arianne Benedetti, explains that the government has set aside a $3 million fund “to back three
features and three docs per year.
Doc grants reach $100,000, those for features $400,000-$1 million.” Law also establishes a exhibition screen quota for homegrown production.
It marks a strong boost for local productions and co-productions, producer Luis Pacheco (Carlos César Arvelaez’s The Colors of the Mountain) insists.
A stable economy and a major finance hub are other attractions: “The law allows private donations and investments in movies to benefit from 25% tax breaks for Panamabased production companies. Also, it establishes a 15% tax rebate on local spend made by international productions budgeted at $3 million-$ 40 million,” adds Pacheco. In June, the Panamanian government announced a new studio complex. Project is being led by a partnership including Oscar winning producer Jonathan Sanger.
The new measures and the future studio suggest Pamama wants to play in bigger leagues. Panama›s main shoots for 2013 include Jonathan Jakubowicz›s Hands of Stone, with Gael García Bernal and Robert De Niro. The $15 million biopic portrays five-time world boxing champion Roberto Durán. Cast also includes Oscar Jaenada, Andy Garcia and Ana de Armas.