Different 4! builds Spain-France bridges

Paris-based Les Films Singuliers has taken all French rights to Lluis Galter’s feature debut “Caracremada,” a fiction film with a near-documentary edge set high in the Catalan sierra.

Based on the real life of the redoubtable Ramon Vila Capdevila, a French resistance hero and last of the anti-Franco Spanish maquis, “Caracremada” played Venice Days last September.

Singuliers’ owner Michel Poirier is now studying options for “Caracremada” theatrical release in France, he said.

“Caracremada” opened Espagnolas en Paris’ Different 4! an alternative Spanish film festival running June 15-21.

It is rapidly emerging as a key mid-June industry interface between the French film industry and Spanish sales agents/producers pushing mid-to-lower budget art fare.

Spanish sales agents – IIS, Latido, Cinema Republic – and producers – Eddie Saeta, Insomnia, Saskia Vischer – met with a near score of mostly medium-sized or niche French distributors for a meet and greet Thursday lunch.

Organized by Espagnolas en Paris, event marks a new initiative backed by Spain’s Icex Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and giant Gallic paybox Canal Plus.

On Friday, at a packed El Fogon restaurant, eight Spanish producers pitched projects for French co-production/distribution. The Ile de France Film Commission and Spain’s Icaa Film Institute supported the workshop.

Both events look set to become industry fixtures.

They also highlight the opportunities and challenges of selling to and co-producing with France.

Paris remains the co-production and art house capital of Europe, plus its upscale sales agent hub.

One singular fact, however, about French indie distributors is that there are so many of them – making it impossible to snatch much quality time with most companies at major marts.

The Thursday meet made up for that. Distributors in attendance included MK2, Wide Management, EuroZoom, Les Films Singuliers, Epicentre, Colifilms, Sophie du Lac Distribution, Bodega, and Jour 2 Fete.

“The lunch was a great initiative,” said Rodolphe Sanze at Spanish sales agent Imagina Intl. Sales.

“We met players we hadn’t met before, listened to their acquitions needs, presented projects.”

Among projects currying buzz at Friday’s Fogon co-production forum was “Canibal,” from Manuel Martin Cuenca (“The Half of Oscar”), “Carnaval, Carnaval,” a social conformity tragicomedy, and “A Gun In Each Hand,” from Catalan ironist Cesc Gay.

Political thriller “Six Days in August,” from San Sebastian’s Irusoin, suggested obvious co-production potential in a 1963 tale, based on real events, set between Paris and Madrid, of two anarchists dispatched to kill dictator Francisco Franco.

Scribe-helmer Anna Maria Bofarull confirmed Germany’s Chamoleon Film & Design will co-produce “Sonata for Cello.”

Locarno Silver Leopard Winner Roser Aguilar (“The Best of Me”) presented “Brava,” about a woman in emotional crisis.

Maria del Puy unveiled “Ice,” a three-part high-concept docu feature.

A 40-minute rough-cut screening of the mid-section from Miguel Angel Jimenez’s “Chaika,” the story of a woman’s search for freedom, set between the Sea of Japan, Siberia and Baikonur, suggests it is one of the most original productions now coming out of Spain.

Friday’s workshop “stood out thanks to the quality of the projects selected,” said MK2 acquisitions topper Jean-Francois Deveau.

Featuring less genre film projects than in previous years, it also underscored the diversity of Spanish cinema, he added.

The Friday workshop was called Small is Biutiful. It could equally have been called Small is Commercial.

One key to the meet’s projects was their under-Euros2 million ($2.9 million) cost, said sales agent Loic Magneron, at Wide Management.

“If a French producer is interested, on a Spanish film costing Euros1.2 million-Euros1.5 million ($1.7 million-$2.2 million), he can raise maybe 40% of the budget through options such as a subsidy, a French distributor, another small European co-production country, or a post-production partner,” Magneron argued.

For small Spanish-language films looking to be distributed in France, Canal Plus holds the keys to the kingdom. Paid to French distributors, a Canal Plus pickup can trigger a Gallic distribution deal.

Given that, one key presence at Thursday’s meet was Bruno Deloye, from Canal Plus’ Cine Plus.

Deloye told French distributors interested in buying Different films to go talk to him.

That means distribution deals on Different titles could well receive Canal Plus backing – if the distributor gives the film a solid-enough theatrical roll-out – valuable promotion for a subsequent screenings on Canal Plus.

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