Esicma swaps toppers as Spanish fest starts

Calpe takes over as Gordon looks to run Morena

SAN SEBASTIAN — On the eve of the opening of the 47th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival, former Sogecable exec Paul Calpe is replacing Juan Gordon as CEO of top Spanish pic production house Esicma.

Gordon is leaving Esicma on amiable terms to run his own production shingle, Morena Films.

The 30-year-old Calpe is a significant addition to Spain’s burgeoning generation of thirtysomething producers who have worked or studied abroad.

Having worked as an acquisition exec at Sogecable, Calpe did a traineeship at MGM before heading up Esicma’s international co-productions division in October 1998.

Esicma is a joint venture of Spanish producer Elias Querejeta (37%), giant French paybox Canal Plus France (34%), Spain’s Grupo Correo publishing house (17%) and Barcelona-based sports rights-broker Media Pro (12%).

Spanish, English pics

Under Calpe, Esicma looks to continue to drive into highly eclectic and cosmopolitan international co-productions made in both Spanish and English. This makes Esicma an inevitable early port-of-call for foreign producers seeking international co-production equity from Spain.

“Esicma plans some five international co-prods a year, two originated from Spain, the others minority co-productions — Esicma-originated pics at $2 million for Spanish projects, $5 million for those in English,” Calpe said.

First pics rolling for Esicma under Calpe are “One of the Hollywood Ten,” a husband-wife love story set during political persecution in the ’50s U.S., and “Inferno,” a tale of Angolan war vets ambushed in Portugal. Both are co-produced with Gordon’s Morena.

Directed by Karl Francis, rolling in October and toplining Angela Molina, Annabella Sciorra and David Straitharn, the English-lingo “Hollywood Ten” is co-produced with Saltire Entertainment in the U.S., Daniel Productions (Netherlands) and Bloomstreet (U.K.). It is budgeted at $6.4 million.

France’s UGC Intl. will handle world sales.

Directed by Portugal’s Joaquim Leitao, “Inferno” is co-produced by Tino Navarro’s MGM Filmes in Lisbon.

Esicma also has a back library of some 200 film titles, plus minority participations in four cinema theaters in Spain, led by Madrid’s booming Princesa nine-plex.

But under Calpe, Esicma is expected to focus more heavily on production. Calpe will be at the San Sebastian fest on Saturday to present Antonio Pedro Vasconcelos’ “Jaime” from Portugal, on which Esicma owns Spanish rights.

The festival opens today with a competition screening of Lawrence Kasdan’s “Mumford.” It closes Sept. 25 with an out-of-competition showcase for Martha Fiennes’ “Onegin.”