Austerity-hit Spanish mart scales back

MADRID — Alberto Rodriguez’s “Unit 7,” Miguel Courtois’ “Operation E” and Fernando Trueba’s “The Artist and the Model” all play the 7th Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings, which runs June 18-20.

Buyers will also catch a trailer for Fernando Colomo’s “La Bande a Picasso,” a new Imagina international pick-up.

A hard-boiled corrupt-cop thriller, the Film Factory-sold “Unit 7″ gleaned positive reviews and a standout €2.3 million ($2.9 million) via Warner Bros. in Spain. A U.S. sale is in the offing.

Colombian political drama “Operation E,” which sees Courtois (“GAL”) return to political critique, has been picked up for France by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. The pic, which is repped in international markets by DeAPlaneta, looks bound for a major fall fest.

The latest from Trueba, an Academy Award winner for “Belle Epoque” and a nominee with “Chico & Rita,” and with significant major territory sales potential, “Model” stars Jean Rochefort (“Man on the Train”) as a sculptor searching for inspiration in 1942 war-torn France.

A comedy, “Picasso” turns on the painter’s involvement in the 1911 robbery of the “Mona Lisa” from the Louvre.

Latido will screen Gerardo Herrero’s sales hit “Silence in the Snow,” a Russian Front thriller set in 1941.

Event also features two top Malaga Spanish Fest winners: Patricia Ferreira’s “The Wild Ones” and Imanol Uribe’s “Orange Honey.”

Screenings host four world preems: potential Spanish market blockbuster “I Want You,” English-language drama “Tangernacion,” Telespan 2000-produced protective mother thriller “Vulnerable,” and immigrant drama “Southern Stars.”

The Screenings, Spain’s national film mart, akin to Unifrance’s Paris Rendez-vous, frames a paradox of the economic crisis: A belt-tightening Spain has less money to promote exports, yet sales, especially pre-sales, are becoming an ever-more important part of Spanish films’ financing as domestic funding contracts.

Pedro Perez, prexy of Spanish producers‘ association Fapae, the Screenings’ organizer, said 53 distribution companies will attend the mart, down from 2011′s 75. The Screenings’ budget, although undeclared, is reported to be 40% below last year’s. This year, organizers have not paid buyers’ flights, Perez said.

Among buyers expected to attend are Germany’s Senator and Universum, Italy’s Lucky Red, Mexico’s Quality Films, Japan’s Shochiku, Blighty’s Revolver Ent., and, from the U.S., Tribeca, Somos TV, Beverly Hill Ent. and TLA Releasing.

Spain’s Institute for Foreign Trade, Icaa Spanish Film Institute and Madrid regional and town hall authorities, among others, co-finance the Screenings.

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