The Dominican film industry is evolving, growing and in a short period of time has positively influenced sectors ranging from tourism to culture and education.
There has also been an increase in co-productions and international agreements, alliances that provide larger budgets and better distribution opportunities, as well as access to new markets, cultural exchanges, financing and talent development, among other benefits.
Between 2020 and 2021, filming in the country went from an average investment of DR$30-50 million to DR$150. Part of this increase is largely due to more international filming: it went from 42% in the 2017/2018 period to 63% between 2020 and 2021.
“Co-production, especially in our insular condition, is an exit window,” explains Marianna Vargas Gurilieva, general director of Dgcine.
“Both countries, beyond telling a common story, contribute financial and technical resources, in addition to technical and artistic personnel, exposing that talent to both co-producing countries. This is the first thing that our insular condition brings us. And it represents a greater challenge than those who are in a continental position, where the movement of products and people is given from another logic and in a less challenging way. That is why in the Dominican Republic we are betting on the internationalization of talent and projects through co-production”.
Highlighting Dominican talent
There are more and more examples of successful films co-produced by the Dominican Republic and other countries, such as Tres balas, a Spanish-Dominican film by director Génesis Valenzuela and producer Wendy Espinal, recognized at the Locarno International Film Festival with three awards: the Open Doors Grant, awarded by the City of Bellinzona, in the amount of 22 thousand Swiss francs; the Artekino International Priz, worth six thousand euros; and the Open Doors World Cinema Fund, awarded by the prestigious Berlinale World Cinema Fund, of the Berlin Festival.
“We bet on co-production because it makes you visible, it gives you more access to those festivals where we want to have that presence,” says Vargas.
There are several other examples, such as Pepe: la imaginación del tercer cine, a film by Dominican filmmaker Nelson Carlos de los Santos Arias, the first Dominican film project to be recognized by the French National Center of Cinematography (CNC) with an Aide aux cinémas du monde award. As well as O+, a co-production between the Dominican Republic and Argentina that has already premiered in both countries.
“As a mystique of our company (Pop Entertainment), I believe that expansion and contact with other Latin American nations is part of our mission and our objectives,” says Evelyna Rodriguez, co-star and producer of “O+”. But we also have three projects with Colombia, two with Mexico, a recent project with Spain and Venezuela, and ‘O+’ which has been with Argentina.”
“Among so many things, the transfer of knowledge and culture is very important; the knowledge of the Argentines who came here, to Puerto Plata, and us when we went there, that cultural and work exchange, is extremely important and adds to the Dominican team,” adds Danilo Reynoso, co-star and producer of O+.
Another example is Miriam miente, a film written and directed by filmmaking couple Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada, which won the Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinema (SFCC) Award at the Cine Latino Rencontres festival in Toulouse, and was nominated in the Grand Prix-Best Film category at the 53rd Karlovy Vary Festival 2018.
“A co-production allows you to shoot in another country, to work with technicians from other countries, to add one more nationality to your film. Not all films need to be co-productions, but, in our case, with the films we make, to me it seems interesting because you have an ally who gives an opinion on the film, can strengthen the production and generate more values,” expresses filmmaker Natalia Cabral.
The Dominican Republic currently has a co-production agreement with Spain within the framework of Iberseries Platino Industria. It has also established a co-production agreement with Italy and an umbrella arrangement with the Ibermedia Program, dedicated to promoting the co-production of fiction and documentary films in the 23 countries that are part of the program. In addition, the country is in the process of negotiating with Uruguay to establish a bilateral agreement and thus generate the co-production of audiovisual projects.
“We also started the first conversations with Argentina because it is the country with which we co-produce the most, and there is a draft agreement with Morocco to resume. We are also in talks with the region of Flanders, in Belgium, and there is a cooperation agreement with France,” highlights the general director of Dgcine.