Spain's Mostra fest changes course

Bastions of high art, Europe’s festivals face one building criticism: Their growing divergence from public taste.

“Save for a few exceptions, there’s a huge gulf between movies made for audiences and movies made for festivals,” says Martin Moszkowicz at Constantin. And, he adds, “that gap’s getting bigger and bigger.”

One Euro festival, however, bucks the trend: Valencia’s Mostra.

For 30 years, it specialized in Mediterranean arthouse fare, but it re-launched in October as an action-adventure festival.

The 32nd Mostra features out-of-competition thriller “Source Code,” from Summit, hit-girl adventure “Hanna,” full-on thriller “Unknown” and Korean vigilante chop-sock fest “The Man From Nowhere” in a populist pic package few Euro fests contemplate, let alone match.

It’s even scheduled an auto-racing doc, “Senna,” about the late F1 driver.

The fest boasts its take on Comic-Con, Mostra Comic; multiple TV series preems; and a vidgame strand; a tribute to action helmer Renny Harlin; and a meet dedicated to James Bond.

For fest topper Salomon Castiel, the Mostra spent 30 years trying to build itself as an art film event with low media coverage, but to create a “modern, contempo and better Mostra and stand out, we had to specialize, opening up to TV, comicbooks and videogames.”

In truth, the Mostra’s makeover is a reboot, not a revolution. Main competition pics, as Castiel points, are often heavily framed by social context: Rachid Bouchareb’s “Outside the Law” enrolls gangster movie tropes to chronicle the Algerian National Liberation Front’s armed struggle for independence; Eric Lartigau’s EuropaCorp-produced “The Big Picture” skewers Parisian bourgeois life.

Revamp results are encouraging, Castiel says, noting that the festival nearly tripled attendance to 46,000.

Sponsorship deals with broadcaster Telecinco and paybox Digital Plus promise more alluring TV exclusives.

Valencia still has to build its cachet as it tries to become a European studio pic launchpad, Castiel acknowledges, adding that for the orthodox culture world, action-adventure movies appear frivolous.

But the Mostra’s mainstream move merely mirrors the European film biz’s slow march toward genre and entertainment, away from auteur cinema.

More on the Fest Traveler: Valencia:
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