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Jaume Balaguero

A rare example of a Spanish horror flick, 30 year-old Catalan Jaume Balaguero’s debut feature “Los sin Nombre” (The Nameless) is thrilling the chill industry.

A fistful of awards at Spain’s Sitges fest, including the Melies d’Or for the year’s best European fantasy film, plus rave receptions at Mifed and the Lanzarote fest, mean that buzz will be loud when the film hits this year’s American Film Market.

After training as a journalist and doing radio work in his native Barcelona, Balaguero made two well-received shorts, the self-funded “Alicia” (1994), and “Dark Days” (1995), before going in with Filmax for “The Nameless.” Based on a novel by Brit horror scribe Ramsey Campbell, it is an eerie, terrific-looking tale of a husband and wife whose baby daughter dies in mysterious circumstances. Five years later, the phone rings and it is the daughter on the line.

“The film met with resistance at first,” recalls the helmer, whose influences, like those of that other Spanish wunderkind Alejandro Amenabar, are mainly American. “Nobody believed in the idea of a horror film set in Spain.”

The public has disagreed — to date, local B.O. stands at $1.3 million (pic’s budget was around $850,000), with the film selling beyond standard Spanish territories and provoking interest from U.S. buyers.

Balaguero’s as-yet untitled follow-up, set to roll in the fall, is at script stage and will be part of the Fantastic Factory project, set up by Filmax as a platform for seven soon-to-be-produced sci-fi-horror pics.

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