Juan Antonio Bayona
A mother moves to a rambling neo-Victorian mansion that was once the orphanage where she spent an idyllic childhood. Soon her son claims he is playing with the same child ghouls she saw when she was a child. This is just the point of departure for Bayona’s lushly lensed debut, godfathered by Guillermo del Toro. From footage unspooled at Berlin, “The Orphanage,” a Cannes Critics’ Week player and Berlin sales smash, looks to be much more than a shockfest.
Blanco broke through as lead artist on worldwide vidgame hit “Commandos”; now, he’s on another mainstream mission: di-recting the $54 million toon pic “Planet One,” with a screenplay by Joe Stillman (“Shrek”). Its look is defined: Planet One-lings live in a 1950s Technicolor suburbia. Blanco, crucially, co-authored “Planet’s” concept: Character “and caring about characters” are essential, he says.
A microbudgeted identity-theft drama, Cortes’ “Me” caps a Rotterdam Tiger with Fipresci’s Revelation of the Year Award, presented today at Cannes. It’s not difficult to see why. In a Mallorca hamlet of aloof codgers, a German gardener (Alex Brende-muehl) is unjustly accused of minor theft. Few films combine so mordantly a pungent sense of place, stylistic range and open-ended reflections, here on identity as self-creation and social imposition.
In “Wrap Up,” Costafreda and Fernando Castets (“The Son of the Bride”) have written a delicate drama about a love triangle involving a father and son. “Wrap Up” re-creates two worlds with subtle emotional realism: Galicia, and Argentinians who emigrate to Spain, and laces both with tender humor. He’s now prepping his second TV movie — a format he defends — and writing his sophomore feature about village photographers, a project about the sensibility of humble people.
“De bares,” “Catalina”
Galicia’s brightest young hope, Iglesias debuted with “Drink Up!” (De bares), nine stories of simmering emotion, told with percipience and force. If an extended promo is anything to go by, Iglesia brings the same emotional insight to “Catalina,” a con-tempo drama in post-production about a young femme painter, her work, frustrations, love.
Jaime Marques Olarreaga
Former scripter Marques Olarreaga’s feature “Thieves” was the most distinctive debut of this year’s Malaga fest. Initially con-ceived as a horror film, it ended up an intense love story between a teenage pickpocket and the girl he falls for. Helmer’s lack of track record — two shorts made back in the ’90s — belie the confidence of the film’s visuals, exploiting minimal elements to the dramatic max, which could become a hallmark of his future work.
You need guts to shoot nuts and try to fashion truly frightening characters, like those in Ramirez’s bow. Ramirez’s creative co-jones pay off in his animated thriller about an artist hired to brighten up a psychiatric ward. A Joe Dante fan with a talent for oppressive atmospheres, thrilling effects, ironic naivety and twisted humor, Ramirez has begun animating puppet pic “Zombie Western,” a gorey oater that “Jim Henson would make, if possessed by a Sam Raimi demon,” he says.
“The Night of the Sunflowers”
Two award-winning shorts paved the way for Sanchez-Cabezudo’s “The Night of the Sunflowers,” a skillfully handled six-parter about a murder in a remote area of rural Spain that mixes up suspense with social analysis and smartly deployed narrative games. Pic’s become something of a cult item since its August release, picking up several Goya nominations on the way. The helmer is currently working on a script he hopes to complete in 2008.
David and Tristan Ulloa
The unassuming Ulloas, Tristan and David — the former a respected thesp best known for his role in Julio Medem’s “Sex and Lucia,” the latter less high profile — are perhaps a unique example in Spanish cinema of siblings helming in tandem. They debuted with fantasy short “Ciclo” in 2002, but first feature “Pudor” reps a complete change of direction. A sensitively scripted unveiling of the secret shames in an everyday Spanish family, the film won critical plaudits at the recent Malaga Festival.
“I like to turn genres inside out,” says Vigalondo. That strategy won an Academy Award nom for “7:35 in the Morning,” and returns in “Time Crimes,” Vigalondo’s feature debut. In “Crimes,” a man travels back in time to prevent his wife’s inadvertent murder by an earlier version of himself. A love story and brainteaser, and potential cult item.