Tornasol, La Fabrique du Film pact on pic

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — Alex de la Iglesia will direct tragicomedy “Balada triste de trompeta,” which is set up as a co-production between Spain’s Tornasol Films and France’s La Fabrique du Film.

The same two companies were behind De la Iglesia’s 2008 hit “The Oxford Murders,” which starred Elijah Wood. Distribbed by Warner Bros., “Murders” took Euros8.2 million ($11.7 million) in Spain, making it the highest-grossing Spanish film of last year.

Defined by De la Iglesia as a “grotesque tragedy,” the Spanish-language “Balada” turns on two clowns who fall in love with the same femme trapeze artist at a circus in Spain in 1973.

“Balada” will shoot from January from a De la Iglesia screenplay in Madrid and at Alicante’s Ciudad de la Luz studios. Its ensemble cast includes Antonio de la Torre (“Gordos”) and Carlos Areces (Muchahada Nui”) as the clowns and Carolina Bang (“Pluton B.R.B. Nero”) as the trapeze artist.

Carmen Maura (“Volver”), Juan Luis Galiardo (“Miguel and William”) and Enrique Villen (“Seven Billiard Tables”) will take character roles.

“Balada” is one of 29 feature films that pubcaster RTVE has pre-bought for Spain this year, Gustavo Ferrada, head of cinema at RTVE’s TV arm, TVE, announced Thursday at San Sebastian during a press conference jointly hosted by TVE and Spanish producers‘ association Fapae.

Further pre-buys include Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Javier Bardem starrer “Biutiful” and “Black Thorn,” the second directorial outing from Mateo Gil, who co-wrote many of Alejandro Amenabar’s pics with the director, such as “Abre los ojos” and “The Sea Inside.” Pic will shoot first half 2010, and is produced by Ariete and Arcadia Motion Pics.

TVE director Javier Pons announced that La 2, TVE’s culture channel, would program a movie every day of weekday primetime. Four nights would be dedicated to Spanish-language movies, he added.

Praising TVE as “Spain’s biggest source of support for Spanish cinema,” Fapae prexy Pedro Perez announced that revenues from the international sales of Spanish movies dropped 29.3% last year to Euros40.4 million ($57.7 million). TV exports in contrast rose 4.4% in value to $52.3 million.

Spanish films market share for this year is 12.3% down on 2008. However, with Amenabar’s “Agora” and toon pic “Planet 51″ to bow later in the year, Perez said he was confident 2009 would finally be up on 2008.

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