Filmax set to distrib ‘Contestant’

Cast includes Lara, Gallego, Sbaraglia

SITGES, Spain — Julio Fernandez’s Filmax Entertainment has boarded Rodrigo Cortes’ “El concursante” (The Contestant), one of the most eagerly awaited feature film debuts in Spain.

Filmax has acquired Spanish and international distribution rights outside Latin America, which pubcaster RTVE is handling. The Barcelona-based mini-studio also has taken co-production equity in the dark comedy via its production subsid, Castelao Prods.

Other producers on the project are Lazonafilms, Continental Producciones and Nephelim Producciones.

In the satire of contempo consumerism, a man wins a record sum on a TV gameshow — a stroke of good luck that ruins his life.

Leonardo Sbaraglia (“Intacto”) plays the gameshow winner, a professor of economics. Cast includes Chete Lara, Spanish TV actress Miryam Gallego and Fernando Cayo.

Also written by Cortes, who leapt to attention in Spain with award-winning short “15 Dias,” “Contestant” differs radically from most Spanish films in its frenetically cut, constantly mobile camerawork and frequent voiceover, a style influenced more by David Fincher’s “Fight Club” than by the traditional socialist realism of Spanish filmmaking.

“We aim to work on a long-term basis with Cortes,” said Lazonafilms producer Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson.

Filmax has skedded the pic for an early 2007 release.

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