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Critics’ Week winner Mendez preps ‘Saudade’

Project one highlight of Paris' Small is Beautiful

MADRID — Antonio Mendez Esparza, whose Spain-U.S. production “Aqui y alla” won Cannes Critics’ Week, is prepping “Saudade.”

Set up, like “Aqui,” at Mendez’s Madrid-based Aqui y Alli Films, “Saudade” records the emotional collateral of immigration via a Spain-set Brazilian mother-son story.

The U.S.’s Torch Films co-produced “Aqui.”

Mendez will present “Saudade” at Small is Beautiful, a co-production forum spotlighting six Spanish pics unspooling Friday in Paris.

Chosen from 44 submissions, all the pics are low budget, underscoring the impact of the Spanish financial crisis, said curator Javier Martin. Some 36 Gallic producers are expected to attend.

Small is Beautiful is organized by Espagnolas en Paris. It forms part of the Different! 5 alternative Spanish fest unspooling in the French capital.

The forum also features projects from Oliver Laxe; Catalan helmers Ventura Pons and Jordi Cadena; Carlos Vermut’s next after debut “Diamond Flash”; and the first film from editor Fernando Franco.

Laxe, who won a Fipresci prize for 2010 Directors’ Fortnight player “You Are All Captains,” will unveil “Las Mimosas,” a Middle Ages-set tale of Islamic conflict between Arab desert tribes.

Pons attends with “Killer,” a silver-screen makeover of the hit Barcelona musical monologue. Cadena, who won a San Sebastian special jury prize with “Elisa K.,” once more adapts novelist Lolita Bosch in the domestic violence-themed “El Miedo,” produced by Barcelona’s Oberon.

After micro-budget “Diamond Flash,” one of 2012’s most talked-about Spanish debuts, Vermut will tubthump “Magical Girl,” another genre-blender.

Franco (“Blancanieves”) will present “La Espera,” co-written by Enric Rufas, co-scribe of Jaime Rosales’ Directors’ Fortnight player “The Dream and the Silence.”

Small is Beautiful is backed by the Ile de France Film Commission, and Spain’s ICAA Film Institute and Cervantes Institute.

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