San Sebastian confirms market uptick

'Skylab,' 'Blood' 'Flowers,' 'Americano' see deals

SAN SEBASTIAN — With three deals closed at the fest — Spain (Alta), Argentina (Alfa) and Portugal (Alambique) — Julie Delpy’s dysfunctional family comedy “Skylab” proved a sales standout at the 59th San Sebastian Film Festival, which closes Saturday.

But it wasn’t the only title sparking trading at the Spanish-world’s biggest sprocket opera.

Spanish distributors that have weathered the crisis best — Golem, Alta Films, A Contracorriente — all made deals on San Sebastian titles and beyond.

Evidencing a new industry emphasis at San Sebastian under new director Jose Luis Rebordinos, two of Europe’s most important players — France’s Wild Bunch and Spain’s Apaches Ent. — used San Sebastian to unveil significant news: Wild Bunch’s acquisition of a majority stake in Spanish distribution company Vertigo; and Apaches’ creation of low-budget label Mapache and TV division Apachete.

On the sales agent pick-up front, Latin American pic specialists such as FiGa and M-Appeal made the running.

Meanwhile, with Spain still taking top honors beside Japan and the U.S. as one of the toughest markets to sell to in the world, Spain’s San Sebastian fest is emerging as an ever more important event: the key that turns the door into Spain.

FiGa moved Thursday to take North and Latin America sales rights on San Sebastian Competition title “Blood of My Blood,” from Portugal’s Joao Canijo. A Lisbon family drama, “Blood” took a special mention Thursday from the jury of San Sebastian’s TVE-Another Look Award.

FiGa had already announced at the Spanish fest that it would handle international on Chilean Rodrigo Marin’s “Zoologico.”

M-Appeal closed world sales at San Sebastian on Isaki Lacuesta’s Competition title “The Double Steps.”

Rubbing shoulders in San Sebastian Competish with “Skylab,” a second Films Distribution title, “11 Flowers,” co-produced by France’s Full House, has initiated sales, selling to three high-caliber distributors: France’s Haut et Court, Australia’s Palace Films and Israel’s New Cinema.

After its Toronto world preem, “Americano” was acquired for Benelux (Imagine Film Distribution), Brazil (California Filmes) and Colombia (Babilla Cine), France’s Bac Films announced at San Sebastian.

(MPI Media Group acquisition of North American rights to Americano was announced out of Toronto.)

At San Sebastian, Golem Distribution closed Spanish rights to Filipino auteur Brillante Mendoza’s thriller “Captured.”

Adolfo Blanco’s Barcelona-based A Contracorriente has taken Spanish rights on Philippe Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar.”

Also at the Spanish fest, Golem co-founder Josetxo Moreno inked two other high-profile European titles. With Wild Bunch’s exec Gael Nouaille, Moreno negotiated Spanish rights to France’s 2012 Oscar entry, local B.O. hit dramedy “Declaration of War.”

Meanwhile, German sales company Films Boutique’s CEO Jean Christophe Simon closed Spain with Golem on Alexander Sokurov’s Venice Golden Lion winner “Faust.”

In San Sebastian, The Match Factory sold Locarno Golden Leopard winner “Back to Stay” to Wiesner Distribution for Puerto Rico.

A bevy of pics all came into San Sebastian sans sales agent and played to upbeat receptions: Brit actor Dexter Fletcher’s crime caper “Wild Bill,” Colombia-set road movie “Pescador,” from Ecuador’s Sebastian Cordero, and, in Films in Progress, Marialy Rivas’ “Young and Wild.”

The Match Factory’s sales head Brigitte Suarez reported “very strong interest” from Latin American distributors on Benito Zambrano’s Competish entry “The Sleeping Voice.”

There were also warm reactions for Ignacio Ferreras’ senior citizen buddy comedy “Wrinkles,” the top-ranking Spanish pic through Friday in San Sebastian’s new directors Euskaltel Youth Award, and for David Trueba’s 6 Sales-repped period chamber piece “Madrid, 1987.”

Industry attendance climbed 13% from 2010’s 984 accreditations at the festival’s Industry Club to 1,117 this year.

The international sales market, having bottomed out, is enjoying an uptick in prices paid and competition, FD partner Nicolas Brigaud Robert told Variety, citing bullish sales at Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian on “Skylab,” “11 Flowers,” “Cafe de Flore” and “Monsieur Lazhar” (see separate story).

San Sebastian still remains a festival hub for movies and professionals from Spain and Latin America, Suarez added.

Rebordinos announced that he hopes to launch a significant Europe-Latin America co-production forum at 2012’s San Sebastian.

He already has a basis on which to work.

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