Deals begin to go down at San Sebastian

SAN SEBASTIAN — Spanish arthouse producer-distributor Wanda Films has taken all Spanish rights to Danis Tanovic’s war drama “Cirkus Columbia,” which played in the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Zabaltegi-Pearls section.

Deal was closed at San Sebastian by Wanda CEO Jose Maria Morales with sales company Match Factory’s managing director Michael Webber.

Wanda is also handling Spanish distribution rights to Judith Colell and Jordi Cadena’s rape drama “Elisa K,” a San Sebastian Competition player sold internationally by Imagina Intl. Sales.

In further San Sebastian trading, Adolfo Blanco’s new arthouse distrib A Contracorriente Films inked all rights to Rodrigo Grande’s Argentine comedy “A Matter of Principles,” toplining Federico Luppi, Norma Aleandro and Pablo Echarri.

The acquisition was negotiated with Madrid-based sales agent Urban Films, which also pacted at the fest with Miami-based Venevision Intl.

Venevision closed U.S. DVD, video-on-demand, pay and free-to-air TV rights to Jesus Mora docudrama “Villa Tranquila,” a Spain-Argentina co-production sold by Urban.

Pacts were part of a small clutch of deals put through at the San Sebastian festival this year. If business was slow, however, there’s one very good reason for that.

It’s not just soccer. Spain near rules the world in the toughness of its movie market. Only the U.S. and Japan are as difficult to sell to. And sales to Spain drives much of the trading at San Sebastian, as deals for Italy does at Venice.

“Spain’s market faces a large degree of uncertainty,” said Wanda’s Jose Maria Morales. “On the one hand, it’s ravaged by piracy. On the other, there’s little visibility on RTVE financing model.”

The jury’s still out, for example, as to whether Spanish telcos will be forced to stump up part of RTVE’s budget.

Anecdotally, San Sebastian looked to have seen traffic — in hotels, restaurants and parties — and the trading mood has been calm to cautious.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t a significant business presence at San Sebastian.

The Basque festival hardly boasts Toronto’s massed distributor presence.

But, as in recent years, its international sales agents contingent proved larger than Venice’s. This year, Wild Bunch, Fortissimo, Match Factory, MK2, Rezo, Elle Driver, Funny Balloons, Coproduction Office, U Media, Beta and Finecut all sailed into town, among multiple agents.

Also, with some of San Sebastian’s best-received films playing late in the running, a considerable amount of business looks set to go down after the market.

U Media is now fielding interest from French distributors on Colombian drama “The Colors of the Mountain,” said U Media’s Virginie Devesa. World preeming to acclaim Thursday, Carlos Cesar Arbelaez’s debut is placed second behind Diego Luna’s “Abel” in the Euskatel Youth Award voting, a key sign of audience appeal.

Magnet Releasing acquired “I Saw the Devil” at Toronto for North America. At San Sebastian, Finecut’s Youngjoo Suh said she was now negotiating Germany and Latin America sales.

Sales traction also looks likely on Agusti Villaronga’s Beta-sold “Black Bread,” the best received of Competition films in a Spanish critics’ chart published by regional newspaper El Diario Vasco.

Films in Progress fielded a strong lineup, with reports of sales agents circling some of its more mainstream propositions, such as Mexico’s “Asalto al cine” and Colombia’s “Todos tus muertos.”

“There were interesting titles in the section and some might see sales,” said MK2’s Dorothee Pfistner.

Fest runs Sept. 17-25.

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this article.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more