Immigrants, locals make splash in Spain

Asturian pros are making an impact in Spain, from new directors to producers and thesping talent. Variety profiles a handful of illustrious Asturians, both emigres and home-based filmmakers.

JIM BOX
director

Guerrilla filmmaker and larger-than-life Jim Box began filmmaking by buying a vidcam to capture the thrill of surfing. His surfisodes, with typical faux naif voiceover, can still be caught on the Internet. Box won prizes and notoriety for shorts, including top kudos in 2005 from Spain’s NotoDo Internet Fest, for mock tragic bird-flu doc “H5N1.” Having directed the “making of” Javier Fesser’s Wild Bunch-sold “Camino,” he’s now casting around for the right story for a first feature.

JOSE LUIS CIENFUEGOS
film fest director

In his early 40s, the cosmopolitan Cienfuegos is a go-to man and point-of-entry for foreigners not only for the Gijon Film Festival but much of Asturias’ building film scene. His 13 years at the helm of the Gijon fest has turned a rudderless event into one of Spain’s must-attend movie happenings for film buffs, with broad-based programming — he fancies everything from John Ford to Aleksandr Sokurov — that’s sure to please all types of cinephiles.

TOMAS CIMADEVILLA
producer, Vertice/Telespan 2000

At the Madrid-based shingle Telespan 2000, Cimadevilla produced some of Spain’s greatest local comedy hits, including “The Other Side of the Bed” and “Soccer Days.” After conglom Vertice bought up Telespan in 2006, Cimadevilla’s become more of an exec, as general manager of film production and has ambitious international film plans at Vertice.

TOM FERNANDEZ
director

The easygoing Fernandez cut his teeth helming award-winning Spanish sitcom “7 Vidas.” “Suso’s Tower,” an ingratiating homecoming pic he wrote and directed and set in an Asturian mining community, was a San Sebastian fest standout in September and, distributed by Warner Bros., grossed $2.5 million last year. He’s prepping an ecological comedy in Asturias in 2009, also produced by Mediapro.

JOSE ENRIQUE IGLESIAS
director

One of the latest talents to emerge in the Asturian film scene, 36-year old Iglesias has just graduated from Poland’s national film school. His end-of-course existential short, “In Between,” has screened in 55 festivals and in January won first prize at Emir Kusturica’s prestigious Kustendorf fest. Iglesias is now prepping a feature, “Bajo un mismo cielo,” which he plans to shoot in 2009.

JUAN GONA
producer

Gona’s a key figure in Asturias’ nascent film industry, showing a strong commitment to team with regional authorities for a soon-to-launch Asturias Film Commission and a film production and training center. He’s the producer of Asturias’ most ambitious film project to date, the three-feature Primeras Tomas, plus pubcaster TVE TV movie collection “Martes de Carnaval.”

ANTONIA NAVA
producer

An English lit grad, Nava worked as translator at the Gijon fest and joined mini-major Filmax in 1999, becoming a driving force behind the company’s prolific sales success. Since 2005, Nava has headed Filmax’s global co-production activities, producing Brad Anderson’s “The Machinist” and “Transsiberian,” Jaume Balaguero’s “Fragile” and Gary Oldman starrer “The Backwoods.” Barcelona-based but Asturias-born, Nava also is busy promoting Barcelona’s Asturian club Asbar.

JOSE ANTONIO QUIROS
director

An accomplished doc and feature director, Quiros’ latest production is the eco-conscious feature “Ashes From the Sky,” bowing in September, about plans to build a thermal power station in a beautiful Asturian valley. Quiros, who bowed with mining drama “Pidele cuentas al rey” in 1999, has successfully carved out a film career from Madrid. He’s now prepping “Bread for Today,” a personal tale about an innocent person whose life is devastated by the March 11, 2004 terrorist train bombings in Spain.

SERGIO SANCHEZ
director

One of Spain’s hottest young screenwriter-director talents — and he hasn’t even made a feature. An NYU Film School alum, Sanchez wrote “The Orphanage,” mentored by Guillermo del Toro. Their association doesn’t end there: Del Toro has earmarked Sanchez’s long-standing screenplay, “3993,” to complete his “Devil’s Backbone”/”Pan’s Labyrinth” Spanish trilogy. Sanchez has three screenplays on the go: chiller “The Homecoming,” with Rodar y Rodar, which has a great buzz, plus a family comedy and a fantasy pic.

LUCINDA TORRE
director

Torre’s two-hour doc “Resistencia,” about a successful strike at an Asturias industrial plant, was one of the highlights of the 2006 Gijon fest and a milestone in local filmmaking: a gritty, tense testimony to the traumas of a mining region being shunted wholesale into a post-industrial age. This summer she’ll direct love-triangle tale “Alegria,” set in a Civil War Asturian mining community. She’s also developing a TV series and the short “Soledad.”

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