French bank lends to wide range of movies, plus TV

SAN SEBASTIAN — Demonstrating ample range and continued commitment to Spain, Paris bank Natixis Coficine, Europe’s largest film lender, has closed financing deals on Mar Coll’s “El desconcert” (Puzzlement) and the second-season of hit TV series “The Red Band Society,” now set up for a U.S. remake at DreamWorks TV.

The two deals show Natixis Coficine, which lent more than Euros 700 million ($1 billion) to Europe’s film/TV industries in 2011, reaching out beyond film bankers’ traditional brief of high-end movie productions, extending facilities based on its specialist knowledge of the film sector, which arguably no Spanish bank can match, and Spain’s ever-greater financing needs.

Barcelona-based Escandalo Films, which made admired robot pic “Eva,” produces “Puzzlement,” Coll’s follow-up to “Three Days With the Family,” a Spanish Academy new director Goya winner.

Catalan pubcaster TVC co-produces. TVC and TVE, Spain’s nationwide state-backed network, share free-to-air rights. “Puzzlement,” a femme drama, looks to draw down subsidies from Spain’s ICAA Film Institute and the ICEC Catalan Institute for Cultural Companies.

Of this funding, Escandalo only receives part of TVC’s co-production coin during “Puzzlement’s” shoot; Natixis Coficine cashflows the remainder, said Christophe Vidal, Natixis Coficine director, in San Sebastian for Saturday’s European premiere of Pablo Berger’s buzzed-about competition player “Blancanieves,” which it bankrolled.

“Puzzlement” is a “straight-arrow arthouse film that fits our criteria and isn’t out of reach for the producers,” Vidal said.

“Natixis Coficine can work a large range of budgets, not just high-flying productions but lower-budget movies as well, developing long-term personal relationships with producers,” he added.

Without Catalan finance, “Puzzlement” would probably not have been made, Vidal observed. That’s even truer of “Red Band Society’s” second season.

A 15 one-hour-seg series, “Red Band” is produced by Castelao Pictures, part of Julio Fernandez’s Filmax Group. TVC fully finances. In a deal structured in just one week, Natixis Coficine is cash-flowing production.

“Red Band Society” was NC’s second TV production in Spain. “Spanish TV is a sector that we could get more and more interested in,” said Vidal.

Of San Sebastian titles, Natixis Coficine has also arranged credit facilities for Miguel Courtois’ “Operation E,” a Colombian hostage drama with Luis Tosar, world preeming Tuesday, and contempo Cuba omnibus feature “7 Days in Havana,” screening Monday.

Late August, it boarded Eugenio Mira’s Adrian Guerra-produced “Grand Piano,” with Elijah Wood and John Cusack. It has also cash-flowed another heavyweight Spanish thriller: Alex and David Pastor’s post-Apocalypse “Last Days,” produced by Morena Films’ Pedro Uriol.

“We can’t throw out the baby with the bath-water,” Vidal said of Spain’s current financial crisis.

“Over the last decade, the Spanish film industry has built up a know-how and competence, especially in Catalonia. We’re doing all we can to continue working in Spain as one of our major markets in Europe. As long as the leading financial players — the public funds, broadcasters and distributors – – support the film industry, we’ll be there as well.”

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