Spanish pics take off in Canaries

Buyers flock to Lanzarote screenings

MADRID — The migration south to the 6th Lanzarote Winter Spanish Film Screenings was held up when once-in-a-blue-moon flurrying snow in Madrid delayed outbound flights for up to 11 hours Wednesday. But once acquisition execs struggled into the Canary Islands, the Screenings saw a flurry of deals.

Although no new market titles took buyers breath away, several dozens deals might eventually go down on Screening titles. That’s only natural when Screenings attendees included prolific Spanish pic buyers such as Richard Rohrbach, v.p. programming & acquisitions of LAP TV, which acquires 20-30 Spanish films a year for Latin American pay TV, and Jose Ramon Ganchegui, director of acquisitions at Venevision Intl. Films, which picks up some 50 films a year for U.S. Spanish-lingo DVD/theatrical.

Filmax Intl. used the Screenings to push out some heavyweight multi-pic deals on an already-heavily sold sales slate.

Sidonis/Artedis took all rights for France to cargo ship thriller “Deadly Cargo,” and delirious psychiatrist suspenser “Hypnos.” There are also offers in France for psycho-mutt drama “Rottweiler,” underwater village scarefare “Beneath Still Waters” and terrorist nailbiter “El Lobo.” Filmax’s eye-turning teaser for teen chiller “The Nun” also attracted buzz.

Other Screenings standouts among new-ish pics: Mariano Barroso’s involved film noir “Ants in Your Mouth,” which world preemed in Lanzarote; Colombian Sergio Cabrera’s workmanlike equally noirish corruption thriller “The Art of Losing;” the irregular, but sometimes spot-on artificial insemination laffer “Sperm: A Love Story” from directing duo Ines Paris and Daniela Fejerman, which unspooled 53 minutes in Lanzarote; the inevitably touching five-part fiction-come-docu “Every So Often In the World,” vignettes of suffering third-world children, produced by Tus Ojos.

Per Grupo Pi director Geraldine Gonard, “Ants” was currying interest in Italy, Benelux and Germany.

Packed by star-dazzled local auds, the gala perf of downtown soccer comedy “The Longest Penalty in the World” played to riotous laughter. Title, which bows in Spain March 9, could well become Spain’s next sleeper, and close deals over much of Latin America.

Another gala, wayward romancer “Fragile, True Love Is A Fairy Tale” from one of Spain’s leading new ‘90s auteurs, Juanma Bajo Ulloa, split opinions, though it looks likely to close select deals abroad.

Moved from its traditional late Nov./early Dec. slot to Feb. 24-26, Screenings new calendar slot is under study, said director Teo Rios, since it falls less than two months before Spain’s second dedicated Spanish pic mart, the Malaga Spanish Screenings.

Mini-mart’s nearness to Berlin meant some toppers stayed at home, preferring to send more junior execs.

But, whenever they fall, the Screenings are likely to attract buyers combining a tropical clime with buyer convenience.

“There are just too many films at international markets. Here you can see a whole panorama of Spanish films very easily,” said Silvia Torres, intl. manager at Mexico’s Gussi.

“The Screenings are very productive. I’ve got to see seven or eight of our key Spanish suppliers in a very short period of time, and a host of films,” LAPTV’s Rohrbach echoed.

Screenings most positive note was the influx of new local production shingles — Canonigo, Goya, I + D + C and Tus Ojos — and tubthumping pics even without sales agents attached, a sign of Spain’s slowly building international ambition.

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