Pic wins top prize at Lleida festival

MADRID — Swooping on one of 2011′s most talked-about Latin American debuts, Aquelarre Servicios Cinematograficos has acquired Spanish rights to Santiago Mitre’s “The Student.”

A pacy Argentine college politics thriller, “Student” — which won the top prize and actor kudos (Esteban Lamothe) at Lleida’s Catalonia Latin-American Film Festival Friday, will be released second-half August, said Aquelarre’s Luis Angel Bellaba.

Spanish-language and a multi-prized fest fave, “Student” looks like a natural release in Spain.

“The film deals with one of Spain’s biggest issues: Corruption,” said Bellaba.

But Spanish distribution is no slam-dunk, even for high-profile Latin America titles.

Of major Lleida kudos, neither Mexican Bernardo Arellano’s “Between Night and Day,” another notable first film which won screenplay, nor “The Rumor of Stones,” which took actress for Rossana Fernandez, have announced Spanish distribution deals.

One of Lleida’s most popular pics with audiences, Everardo Gout’s best director winner “Days of Grace” has yet to begin its sales campaign.

Select Argentine titles click for Spain. Toplining Argentina’s Ricardo Darin, a star in Spain, “Chinese Take-Away” grossed €2.2 million ($2.9 million) last year. An Aquelarre co-production, Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat’s “The Man Next Door,” took $731,558.

But many Latin American titles underperform in Spain. Moreover, distributors usually do not receive Media Program-style P & A subsidies, and TV sales prospects are slim, said Bellaba.

For many spectators, well-curated festival’s such as Lleida’s, where Juan Pablo Ternicier’s “03: 34: Earthquake in Chile” took best first film, will be their only chance of catching titles.

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