Madrid market generates heat, sales

'Heart,' '25 Carat,' 'Friend Zone' stand out

MADRID — Docu “Of Heart and Courage,” thriller “25 Carat” and comedy “The Friend Zone” proved standouts at a more buoyant than expected 4th Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings.

Running Sunday through Tuesday, the event is Spain’s biggest Spanish film mart for international buyers.

As is their custom, the Screenings saw few world preems of major pics — Cannes steals much of its thunder — though Gerardo Herrero’s latest, “The Night Runner,” was unspooled by Latido for the first time at an invitation-only screening. Zip Films’ “Negro Buenos Aires” world preemed to an upbeat reception.

“Of Heart and Courage,” the latest pic from Spain’s premier feature docu-maker, Jose Luis Lopez Linares, delighted buyers.

Written and directed by Arantxa Aguirre, pic is an epic and moving portrayal of the Lausanne Bejart Ballet’s enthusiastic efforts to keep alive and renovate Bejart’s legacy after his death in late 2007.

Already a Variety Karlovy Vary Critics’ Choice, Patxi Amezcua’s “25 Carat,” a taut urban thriller with a magnificent cast of life-beaten losers, looks set to roll-out significant international sales.

A perceptive — if unpretentious — geek-in-love romcom, Borja Cobeaga’s feature debut, “Friend Zone,” drew appreciative guffaws at screenings.

Argentine femme lead Sabrina Garciarena delivers one of a bevy of eye-catching perfs from talented young actresses showcased at the Screenings, including “Carat’s” Aida Folch and “Trash’s” Judit Uriach.

In a contracting market for foreign language pics — where buyers seek solidly theatrical properties given the slump in DVD and TV sales — many films at the Screenings simply lacked the scale to spark mass sales.

Multiple deals and announcements were made, however:

* DeAPlaneta sold Bigas Luna’s “Yo soy la Juani” to Japan’s Only Hearts and “Prime Time” to Nettai Museum, also from Japan. “Road to Santiago” has been licensed to Portugal’s Ecofilmes.

* Beverly Hills Ent. took all U.S. rights to toon/live action pic “The Hairy Tooth Fairy 2” from Filmax, which has also sold “Just Walking” to France’s Wildside/Le Pacte and Germany’s Tiberius.

* RTVE sold Italy (Multivision) and Korea (Activers Ent.) on its biggest recent sales hit, Joaquin Oristrell’s hedonist cuisine/sex comedy, “Mediterranean Diet.” It has inked Puerto Rico on “Shame” with Weisner Distribution.

* Venevision Intl. has bought U.S. pay and free TV rights to the KWA.-sold “Pretextos” and “Welcome to Farewell Gutmann.” KWA also licensed a 13-title library package to Venevision. Romanian channel TVR bought seven KWA pics, including “El Kaseron.” Scandinavia’s Nonstop Ent. has acquired pay TV to “The Hanged Man.” Only Hearts took DVD and pay TV rights to five titles, including “Man” and “Always Yours.”

* Sogepaq closed French-speaking territories on three library titles with Gaul’s Zylo. Deal includes “Thesis.”

* Latido was still frenetically wrapping multiple sales at the market close.

A libertine chronicle of the life and times of admired poet and upper-crust homosexual, Jaime Gil de Biedma, the 60s Spain set “Consul of Sodom,” played well at a sneak preview.

There was also a good reception for “Trash” at a Screenings, which ran the gamut of contempo Spanish filmmaking but underscored young directors’ ever-more poised plunge into genre or international-style filmmaking.

Carles Torras’ first solo film, to which a sales agent still has to be attached, “Trash” has echoes of “Crash” and other urban criss-crossers — shuddering camerawork, drained tones, acoustic electronics — but still sparked positive reactions for its acerbic take on modern living.

Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” won the first Fapae Prize for Spanish film with the biggest international impact. Co-produced by Spain’s Mediapro “Vicky” has grossed around $94 million worldwide.

The 6 Sales-sold “The Missing Lynx” came second. Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces,” which still has to roll out worldwide, came third.

Kudos was announced Tuesday morning by Fapae prexy Pedro Perez, who also unveiled 2008 international box office stats for Spanish films.

Spanish movies’ total B.O. outside Spain in significant territories last year was Euros132 million ($175.6 million) and 22 million admissions. Twenty Spanish pics bowed alone in France, Spain’s best foreign market where Spanish films, including “Asterix at the Olympic Games,” a Spanish co-prod, grossed $81 million.

Overseas stats are, tellingly, significantly above Spanish films’ home gross ($108.5 million), where local films suffer the indifference if not outright hostility of part of the Spanish population. Foreign buyers, as the busy 4th Screenings suggested, entertain no such prejudices.

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