Argentina's Olivera grabs top kudo at history fest bow

TENERIFE, Canary Islands, Spain — Vet Argentine helmer Hector Olivera’s portrait of Eva Peron’s brother Juan Ramon Duarte, “Ay Juancito” (Poor Little Juan), won the best fiction feature film award in the 1st Intl. Historical Film Festival of La Laguna. Fest ran Oct. 13-15 in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary islands.

“Electric Shadows,” a “Cinema Paradiso”-like story stretching from the Cultural Revolution to the present day from Chinese first-time femme writer-director Xiao Jiang, took the top award for the feature film of most relevant historical content.

Fest also hosted competitive sections for documentaries and shorts. Every fest section had two awards, each with a different jury, one judging films according to their film value, and the other considering the films from a historical point of view.

Docus Official Section nods went to Tolga Ornek’sTurkish production “Gelibolu” (Gallipoli), about the campaign of the same name, and Alejandra Islas’ “La banda del automovil gris,” which narrates Mexico’s turbulent early 20th century.

Oskar Santos’ “El sonador” (The Dreamer), produced by Alejandro Amenabar’s company Himenoptero, and “La teoria del espejo” (The Theory of the Mirror), helmed by Pedro Corredoira, won the two best short plaudits.

Consensus was that pilot edition of the historical sprocket opera proved an interesting and original event, located appropriately in Tenerife’s city of San Cristobal de La Laguna, which is a World Heritage Site and hosts the University of La Laguna.

Per fest director Teo Rios, main challenges for the next edition “will be to increase the budget, up its running time to one week and attract prestigious figures.” This year’s budget was Euros240,000 ($290,000), he added.

In a rare departure for Spain, Spanish niche channel Canal Historia teamed with local Canary Islands institutions to launch the fest. The Canal Historia commitment to the fest is secure for the next four editions, general manager Diego Castrillo explained to Daily Variety.

Canal Historia is a joint-venture between A&E Television Networks and Spanish channel packager Multicanal.

Attending the fest, Michael E.Katz, vp, programming and production, Intl. Division, A&E Television Networks, declared that the creation of a parallel historical pic market, which the fest organization is studying, would be “a logical evolution for the festival.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more