'Carmo,' 'Chef’s,' 'Chicken' stand out

MADRID — “Carmo,” “Chef’s Special” and “The Chicken, the Fish and the King Crab” were some of the standouts at the 3rd Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings.

Like previous editions, the three-day mart, which closed Tuesday, lacked really big local pics to drive sales, which is a hallmark of comparable events such as the Unifrance’s January Paris Rendez-Vous.

But Madrid de Cine did see most Spanish sales companies wrapping or announcing highly useful business in the wake of Cannes.

Most sales on pics will close after the mart end. There was promisingly good word-of-mouth, however, on Murilo Pasta’s Imagina-sold “Carmo,” a vibrant Brazilian badlands road movie, with standout perfs.

Selling strongly, “Chicken,” a gastronomic thriller from leading Spanish docupic director Jose Luis Lopez Linares was also a favorite among foreign journos at the screenings.

A laffer about a gay chef, “Chef’s Special” split opinions. Some buyers and critics dissed the pic saying they’d seen it all before.

Yet, toplining the ever reliable Javier Camara (“Talk to Her”), “Chef’s Special” screenings drew laugh-out-loud reactions from broader-humored and more commercially minded buyers. Pic looks set to follow up TLA Releasing U.S. pickup with further major territory sales.

Jesus Ponce’s barrio slackers social drama, “Lazy Days,” also had admirers.

Skedded just two weeks after Cannes, the screenings’ dates have both an upside and a downside, sales agents said.

“The screenings allow us to close negotiations initiated at Cannes,” said Sogepaq sales exec Carmen Jimenez.

“This is a well-organized event,” added Laia Medina, DeAPlaneta sales manager. “But the dates mean that buyers inevitably arrive with half-full inventories.”

Nevertheless, a swathe of sales were clinched or announced at the mart, often on older titles:

* In one of the biggest deals at Madrid, Mocha Aguilar’s Eldorado has tied-down a 15-pic package deal with Miami-based Venevision Intl. for U.S. DVD or pay rights to pics from top Spanish production houses such as Enrique Cerezo P.C., Starline and BocaBoca. Titles include “Havana Quartet” and “Cosmos.”

* Latido Films inked all rights with Arsenal on “Chicken” for Germany and Austria, while Budapest Film took Hungary. Latido also closed at the screenings a Benelux four-pic deal on “14 Kilometers,” “Manuela and Manuel,” “Animal Crisis” and “O Pai O” with CNC. Also for Benelux, A Film took Andres Wood’s “La Buena vida.”

* Antonio Gonzalez-Vigil’s noirish Argentina-set thriller “Flower of Seduction” went to Japan, in an all-rights deal with Only Hearts, clinched by Eldorado.

* DeAPlaneta announced the Cannes sale of Jose Luis Guerin’s Venice competish player, “In the City of Sylvia,” to Axiom Films in an all-rights deal for the U.K. “Sylvia” has also been acquired for Seven Films for Greece.

* In a third Eldorado deal, Lionsgate has picked up U.S. DVD rights to the Starline-produced “Carmen,” with Paz Vega in the femme fatalissimo role, said Eldorado’s Aguilar.

* Urban Films has picked up worldwide rights to docu “The Shade of Iceberg.” Helmed by Spaniards Hugo Domenech and Raul M. Riebenbauer, pic turns on Robert Capa’s memorable Spanish Civil War photo, “Falling Soldier.”

Other titles currying favor among journos were social-issue moorland manhunt thriller “King of the Hill” from Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, and Nacho Vigalondo’s unusual rural timetravel brainteaser, “Timecrimes,” now set up for an English-language remake at United Artists. Both, like “Chicken,” are some way into their sales cycles.

The screenings, which ran June 8-10, also served to confirm new appointments in Spain’s sales company scene.

In one, Gorka Bilbao, a former exec at indie distributor Festival Films, has been tapped as sales exec at sales company Sogepaq, which boasted a new pic for the screenings, the Tesela-produced “8 Citas.”

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