TCM Spain docs make splashy bow

Web now plans more original programming

SITGES, Spain — TCM has entered original production in Spain. The first two–“El productor” (The Producer) and “La silla de Fernando” — made splashy bows at the recent San Sebastian Film Festival.

“The Producer,” Fernando Mendez-Leite’s personal portrait of producer Elias Querejeta, aired Oct. 8 on TCM in Spain; “La silla de Fernando,” 90 minutes of actor-director conversation with Fernando Fernan-Gomez, broadcasts early 2007.

Spain’s TCM now plans more original programming. The Spanish paybox will make three half-hour career interviews with Spanish directors, co-producing TNT Latin America’s ongoing series “Directores y Latinos” of Latin American — and now Spanish — helmer profiles. The Spanish cineastes will be announced shortly.

Per TCM Spain director Domingo Corral, TCM moved into local production because the two docus were begging to be made.

The grand old man of Spanish acting, Fernan-Gomez claims he made films to eat. Yet, one way or another, he is associated with many of the most experimental and dissident films made under dictator Francisco Franco.

Teaming with Carlos Saura, Victor Erice and Manuel Gutierrez Aragon, Querejeta produced milestones (Saura’s 1965 “The Hunt”) and masterpieces (Erice’s 1973 “The Spirit of the Beehive”) during and after Franco.

“If Spain were the U.S., these documentaries would have been made by now,” says Corral. “We want young Spaniards to know the films and their makers.”

Both “Producer” and “La silla,” directed with brio by Luis Alegre and David Trueba, went down well at San Sebastian, packing cinemas, sparking spirited Q&As, yielding extensive press coverage. And encouraging TCM Spain to make more such profiles.

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