Market sees deals, pronouncements

Two auteur genre pics — Guillem Morales’ “Julia’s Eyes” and Oskar Santos’ “For the Good of Others” — proved standouts at the 5th Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings, which wrapped Tuesday.

Playing in a 15-minute promo, the Universal Pictures Intl. co-produced “Eyes” was one definite star of the Screenings.

Once more teaming lead Belen Rueda and producers Rodar y Rodar and Guillermo del Toro, “Eyes” looked like a significant addition to Spain’s burgeoning horror canon, along the lines of “The Orphanage”: a gothic chiller with shocks enough, but also a woman’s story of some depth, about a femme astrologist’s journey of self-discovery as she battles failing sight.

Driven by a winning perf by Eduardo Noriega (“Vantage Point”), Alejandro Amenabar-produced supernatural hospital drama “For the Good of Others,” attracted, held and largely impressed one of the biggest Screenings turnouts.

“It’s a small film, but can work,” said one distributor.

Which it did: at Madrid, Filmax licensed Japan on “Good” to Only Hearts and Scandinavia to Cinema Mondo.

“Good” played Berlin’s Panorama but was partly lost in the big fest crush. Likewise, San Sebastian best actor and actress winner “Me Too” capitalized on the Screenings to raise total territories sold to 25.

“The Screenings allow buyers to catch up and provided ‘Me Too’ with another platform,” said Michael Weber at “Too” sales co The Match Factory.

This time round, the Screenings offered few surprises, though a flurry of deals, and a broader take on Spanish cinema.

Many Spanish films’ Achilles’ heel remains a lack of character depth reaching beyond broad stereotype.

When movies did achieve this, they drew at least applause from buyers.

One was Miguel Albaladejo’s “Born to Suffer,” a critics’ favorite that delivers a knowing and hilarious study of an older woman’s emotional manipulation of her heart-of-gold maidservant.

Another was David Pinillos’ Beta-sold romantic dramedy “Bon Appetit,” a bittersweet story of unrequited love and haute cuisine set at an exclusive eatery in a fairytale Zurich old town, whose central relationships unfold with a bracing realism.

Meanwhile, three Imagina-sold pics from breaking-through helmers — Alberto Rodriguez’s Generation X lament “After”; Mar Coll’s sharply observational funeral reunion yarn “Three Days With the Family”; and Daniel Sanchez Arevalo’s “Gordos,” a bold social drama — also scored fans among foreign journalists and scribes.

In further deals, as of midday Tuesday:

• Japan’s Only Hearts is in advanced negotiations for all rights on Latido-handled “Widows on Thursdays,” from Marcelo Pineyro, and Juan Martinez Moreno’s thriller “A Good Man.”

• Top Spanish indie distributor Aurum has acquired Spanish rights on Tornasol production, “Carlota’s Diary.”

• Germany’s Match Factory sold “Me, Too” to Scandinavia’s November and Rosebud in Greece. Japan, Argentina and Turkey are in talks.

• A habitue buyer of Spanish cinema, Venevision Intl. bought Manuel Gomez Pereira’s coming-of-age thriller “The Hanged Man” from KWA. Venevision is also in advanced talks for U.S. DVD and pay TV rights with Urban Films on a seven-film package, led by “Villa Tranquila.”

• 6 Sales continued to roll out S3D toon pic “The Happets,” still to screen Tuesday afternoon, closing the Middle East with Falcon Films.

• Filmax is mopping up major territories on Eugenio Mira’s presales hit “Agnosia.” With Scandinavia (Scanbox) and Korea (Thomas Ent.) closed off Cannes, only U.S., Italy, Japan and Benelux are outstanding.

• David Castellanos’ Cinema Republic announced the sale to Dutch pubcaster NPO of TV rights to “Northless,” which is close to closing Switzerland and Turkey.

• U.S. cable operator Olympusat has licensed three Vertice Sales-sold titles: “Senora Beba,” “No sois vos, soy yo” and “Sin ti,” Olympusat’s Arturo Chavez said in Madrid.

• DeAPlaneta has taken all international rights to “To Hell With the Ugly,” a broad comedy toplining the reliable Javier Camara (“Talk to Her”), which has grossed Euros6.3 million ($8 million) in Spain.

• Avalon is in advanced talks to sell “Woman Without Piano” to France.

• “Ugly,” “Too,” “Piano” and “With or Without Love,” David Serrano’s soon-to-bow screwball romcom/musical, were the most popular pics at the Screenings’ digital library.

Madrid de Cine also served as a platform for industry announcements.

Talking to the international press, Ignasi Guardans, director general of the Icaa Spanish film institute, confirmed that Spain’s Ministry of Culture will create a work group with the country’s regional authorities to analyze public financing models for Spain’s digital cinema conversion.

The Spanish Film Screenings ran June 20-22.

Emilio Mayorga and Jonathan Holland contributed to this report.

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