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Spanish sun shines at Seville

Local films gain visibility at European cinema festival

Spanish sun shines at Seville | Locations, ads in the mix | Highlights

While maintaining its status as a favored meeting point for the European film industry, the Seville European Film Festival has strengthened its commitment to Spain’s film sector.

Fest’s seventh edition will gain a greater Spanish flavor, showcasing European co-prods featuring higher-profile Spanish actors. Luis Tosar and Elsa Pataky play in “Mr. Nice,” the biopic of Welsh drug pusher Howard Marks. Eduardo Noriega toplines French first-timer Laure Charpentier’s “Gigola.” And Carmen Maura stars in “Chicas,” the directorial debut of Gallic playwright Yasmina Reza (“Arte”).

Seville is pushing its usefulness for the local industry in other ways as well, staging Spanish preems for indie distributors and boosting its role as a hub for meetings, co-production forums and simple networking.

“After seeing other festivals reduce their Spanish cinema presence, Seville’s bigger bet on Spanish films is a smart move,” says Enrique Gonzalez Kuhn of arthouse distrib Alta Films.

Among a clutch of European industry events at the fest, Eurimages exec director Roberto Olla coordinates a roundtable about international film financing with experts such as “Millennium” trilogy producer Soren Staermose, Paris bank Natixis-Coficine director Christophe Vidal and Cine-Regio film funds network’s Charlotte Applegreen.

Andalusian org Extenda is backing a marketing and distribution seminar for Andalusian and European film and TV execs.

“In times of crisis, a festival has, above all, to be useful,” says vet journo-producer Javier Martin Dominguez, now in his third year as SEFF artistic director.

The fest’s country focus this year is on the Netherlands. “Dutch films have a good screenplay base and high-quality photography,” says Martin Dominguez.

Event pays tribute to Dutch pioneer documaker Joris Ivens. His widow, Marceline Loridan-Ivens, will attend Seville and teach a master class at the Festival_Campus program.

Section Wild Tulips, backed by Netherlands’ Eye Film Institute, will showcase recent Dutch films, including three competition players: Mijke de Jong’s “Joy,” the third part of her troubled teen trilogy; Antoinette Beumer’s bittersweet motherhood story “The Happy Housewife”; and Ineke Smits’ WWII drama “The Aviatrix of Kazbek.”

Fest boasts a strong docu presence this year. Its Eurodoc section includes Danish filmmaker Janus Metz’s Cannes hit and Afghan war pic “Armadillo,” Italian artisan Sabina Guzzanti’s “Draquila — Italy Trembles” and Lorenz Knauer’s ecological piece “Jane’s Journey.”

In a further departure, a new sidebar, First Films First, features standout directorial debuts including Greek filmmaker Vardis Marinakis’ Ottoman Empire-set period drama “Black Field” and Hattie Dalton’s Edinburgh closer “Third Star.”

Jerzy Skolimowski’s Vincent Gallo vehicle “Essential Killing,” a multi-award-winner at Venice 2010, closes Seville.

Most of this year’s Official Section movies don’t have Spanish distribution. However, after the SEFF 2009 edition, nine out of Seville’s 16 competition titles tied down Spanish theatrical deals.

“The fest has a growing recognition both within and outside Spain, and this helps movies’ promotion a lot,” says Miguel Morales, director of Madrid-based indie distributor Wanda Vision.

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