Since it was set up in 2003, leading Spanish sales outfit Latido has always handled some documentaries alongside its many dramatic features. Its non-fiction successes have included culinary film (and former IDFA selection) The Chicken, The Fish And The King Crab, about Spanish Master Chef Jesúse Almagro’s attempts to win a prestigious cooking competition, and Under the Shadow of the Cross, about Franco’s legacy in Spain. Several of these docs were produced by Antonio Saura (son of Carlos Saura, who now heads up Latido).
What has changed now is the emphasis the company places on docs. “What we are now doing more systematically is continuing this line of niche documentaries that have worked well for us,” Saura explains. “We are doing it more concentratedly, and with more titles.”
Latido has come to IDFA with several titles to present to buyers, both in official selection and in Docs for Sale. These include the music film Chavela, about flamboyant singer Chavela Vargas, one of whose biggest admirers is Pedro Almodóvar. Also on Latido’s Amsterdam slate is sports film Maracanazo: The Football Legend, about the gut-wrenching defeat the Brazilian football team experienced in the final of the 1950 World Cup in front of 125,000 Brazil fans in its home stadium, The Maracana, at the hands of Uruguay. Also on the slate is Carlos Saura’s J: Beyond Flamenco and highbrow arts doc Bosch, The Garden of Dreams. Its upcoming titles include Altamira: The Dawn of Art and El Mejor Sommelier Del Mundo.
“We really don’t see the difference in terms of looking for quality between a documentary and a fiction movie,” Saura says. “What we are seeing is documentary bringing to the table things that are as fascinating, or more so, as some of the fiction work.”
Thus far, Latido hasn’t explored political docs on subjects such as migration and racism. Instead, it is focusing primarily on art, culinary and sports docs.
Saura says it’s important for sales agents to provide new titles if they want to keep distributors’ attention. “Buyers get bored of seeing the same product. If they have seen you in Cannes or at MIP, they don’t want you to come back with the same product at another market.”
After IDFA, Latido will be heading off to Ventana Sur in Argentina, a key market for Latin American buyers (many of them looking for docs). Other markets like AFM and Berlin are also screening more and more documentaries.
Certain market truths still apply. Pre-sales are “very difficult” for documentaries unless you have a big event movie or an English-language film on a “hot topic.” Some distributors still see docs as a form better suited for TV than for cinema. Nonetheless, as Latido’s presence at IDFA attests, even the most prominent sales agents are now taking documentary much more seriously.