Product showcases screenings in more intimate setting

Daniel Sanchez Arevalo’s “Cousinhood,” Antonio Trashorras’ “Blind Alley” and Jaume Balaguero’s “Sleep Tight” look like potential standouts at this year’s sixth Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings.

Boosting sales from and co-productions with Spain, the only film showcase dedicated to national pics kicks off June 19. The three-day mart sees morning screenings at Madrid’s central Princesa multiplex; Spain’s sales agents take meetings with foreign distributors every afternoon.

Madrid de Cine stands among other customized European confabs such as June’s London U.K. Film Focus and January’s Unifrance Paris Rendez-Vous.

“For us it is a good opportunity to check all the important productions in just one place in a few days,” says Daniel Goroshko at Russia’s A-One, which has already acquired five Spanish titles in 2011, including “Cousinhood,” “Chico and Rita” and “Neon Flesh.”

In tough times, buying demands more time to sort through a country’s film output; if organizers are willing to pay for flights or accommodations, all the better.

“It’s necessary to be able to concentrate on films, culture and the features of Spain and Spanish-speaking countries through national showcases,” says Shimpei Okuda of Japan’s Only Hearts.

“When you attend film festivals such as Cannes, Berlin or markets like AFM, your attention is extremely divided among other types of films. Madrid de Cine allows you to be more focused,” says Brazil’s Sidney Gennaro.

One frequently voiced criticism of such dedicated marts is that sales agents hold back big titles, but this year’s edition looks to buck that trend. Higher-profile pics on offer include Balaguero’s psychological thriller “Sleep Tight” and Eduardo Chapero-Jackson’s what-if fantasy “Verbo,” which will both be presented by Filmax. Sales for “Cousinhood” are being handled by Film Factory Entertainment.

Another top draw looks to be suspenser “Blind Alley,” from DeAPlaneta, which will also unspool Vicente Villanueva’s laffer “The Opposite of Love.”

“There’s a saturation of titles at Cannes. At Madrid, there’s a much better chance for them to be seen,” says Beatriz Setuain at Imagina Intl. Sales, which will repeat much of its Cannes lineup, including “What Are Bears For?” and “3 Meters Above the Sky.”

Vertice Sales will rep Luis Aviles’ “Retornos” plus Borja Cobeaga’s “Love Storming” and Oriol Capel’s “No lo llames amor, llamalo X.”

Kevin Williams Associates will offer Fernando Spiner’s “Aballay, the Man Without Fear,” the Ibarretxe brothers’ “Un mundo casi perfecto” and Mikel Rueda’s Spanish Civil War drama “Stars to Wish Upon.”

Another strategy is to showcase promo reels: Latido will present Xavier Villaverde’s love-triangle teen drama “Sex of the Angels,” for instance.

6 Sales lineup looks set to include Antonio Hernandez’s adventure pic “Captain Thunder,” Mateo Gil’s Western “Blackthorn” and Alex Colls’ tykes toon movie, “The Happets 2.”

Close on the heels of Cannes, agents value the less-pressured environment.

“You are more available and it’s easier to take care of your client,” says Gorka Bilbao, DeAPlaneta international sales manager.

But tough times cut other ways: Last year, 117 buyers from 30 countries attended the Screenings. This year, 70 execs — 60 Europeans — will be invited.

Buyers do, however, include stalwart Spanish film purchasers such as U.S.’ Venevision and LapTV, Russia’s A-One Films, Japan’s Only Hearts, Germany’s Arsenal Filmverleih and France’s Bodega Films.

Organized by producers umbrella association Fapae, Screenings’ backers include ICEX Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and producers rights collection society Egeda.

SPOTLIGHT: SPANISH CINEMA
Hits trump Spain’s pirates | Law forces rookie nets to pump coin into film | Almodovars rekindle Riviera relationship | Sales execs play up local pic strengths | Case studies | Battling the behemoth | Madrid’s mondo move | Talent on the verge | Choice on Croisette

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