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Panamanian Cinema, an Activity that Promises to Become a Key Element to Position Panama Abroad


Cinema is a very important industry worldwide, in which large amounts of money are invested, generating thousands of jobs. However, it is so intimately linked with art that for that very reason it acquires the status of the artistic movement of the 20th century.

Cinema Positioning Countries and Cities

However, many ask themselves the question: How can cinema position the image of a country abroad and attract more tourists to the country?

Who did not get to watched  King Kong on top of the Empire State Building or maybe Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) in continuous pursuit through Berlin while looking for a way to find his true identity. Each frame of these and many films captures a place or destination that ends up remaining in the memory of many people, generating the desire to travel to those places.

The Panamanian film industry seeks these results, and although it has evolved and the number of local and international productions has been increasing thanks to state support and private sponsors, there is still a long way to go.

For the National Director of Cinema of the Ministry of Culture, Sheila González, the growth of recent years shows that the country is capable of projecting cinema with stories that reflect our identity, biodiversity, and natural beauties that we have. For this reason, in 2012 a fund of 3 million per year was created that the State grants for the promotion of the industry, training, support for festivals and productions, and for the conservation of audiovisual and sound heritage.

Given this panorama, Sheila González answers several questions that help to trace the route of cinema within the tourist panorama of Panama.

How does Panamanian cinema help people abroad see part of what we are as a country and how do Panamanians feel more identified with their roots?

 “Cinema allows to know the reality of a country, its history, the landscape, the way of speaking; the audience sees themselves on the screen and recognizes themselves as part of a group. When a viewer sees a film that moves him, with a narrative that exposes a theme, the cinematographic experience sensitizes and helps the person feel as part of a community, to create memory and to identify with his roots. When a film achieves this, it is something really wonderful and allows those who watch it from the outside to know a little about who we are.”

What elements help a film receive support from the Ministry of Culture through Dicine?

“We have the advantage of having a film law that was created to consolidate national film production, establish a policy of promotion and support for production, distribution and exhibition at the national and international level, as well as in response to these provisions and Seeing the potential that a production has, it is supported not only with funds but also in distribution through the National Directorate of Cinema of the Ministry of Culture, with the aim that the film reaches various audiences through film festivals, shows and movie theaters in various countries and achieve a well-deserved recognition.”

One of the last films supported was “Cumpleañero”, which shows beautiful places of Pedasí and will represent Panama at the Oscars in 2023. How do we quantify the number of people who will see the film during the evaluation process and its international distribution?

“Panamanian cinema is developing and we see how it is taking important steps to become a sustainable and recognized cinematography. Birthdays is a promising film, with a story that makes us reflect on friendship, death, the right to choose our lives, it has a magnificent job in terms of photography, direction, sound, soundtrack, the team acting and shows us some really beautiful landscapes in Pedasí that attract the attention of the public for those places. We hope that many people go to the cinema to enjoy this production both in its local distribution and in other countries. Definitely, the fact of having been selected to represent Panama at the Oscars will give it greater international projection. We have to get Panamanians to create and consume what is ours.”

The path has been opening with perseverance and work so that the Panamanian cinema also becomes an important arm in the tourist promotion of our country.

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