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Prolific Madrid-based producer Francisco Ramos has planted his flag — and his banner Alquimia Cinema — in international Spanish-lingo pic production.

Announcing or confirming a raft of projects to roll 2002-’03, Alquimia consolidates a market trend — the push into Spanish-lingo genre pics with a twist, with movies that are helmed by young autuers and are aimed at home markets.

The films are developed, often through co-production and mixed-nationality casts, with an eye for international cross-over between Latin America and Spain, as well as playing specialty venues worldwide.

International co-production also lowers financial exposure on projects, a key concern as cash margins are currently being squeezed by a retreat from pic financing at European broadcasters.

“We’re trying to make Spanish-language projects which are not local pics and bring together some of the best actors from countries in the Spanish-speaking world,” says Ramos.

“That way, they have the potential to work in several countries, as has been seen with ‘Son of the Bride’ or ‘Nine Queens,’ which both treat universal issues,” he adds.

Among new projects:

  • Police thriller “Acuerdate de mi,” the debut of Argentine screenwriter-director Sebastian Borenstein, toplining Leonardo Sbaraglia (“Intact”). Starts shooting February 2003 in Buenos Aires.

  • “El vengador del Rif,” from Marcelo Pineyro (“Plata quemada”), “a kind of ‘Seven’ set in the Moroccan desert at the beginning of the 20th century,” says Ramos.

  • An untitled project from Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes (“I Will Survive”).

  • The first feature from Luis Prieto, whose “Bamboleho” took the narrative short nod at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. Pic will focus on a youthful demimonde and roll in 2003.

  • A new pic from Ramon Salazar (“Stones”). Per Ramos, Salazar is currently weighing two options.

Alquimia is already committed to a raft of projects — which alone suggests that forecasts of a total halt in Spanish production owing to pay TV’s cutting back on local financing are rather exaggerated.

“Good films will always sell at home,” says Ramos.

Pics in production include Miguel Toledano’s comic romancer “La luna en Jorge,” Miguel Bardem’s “Incautos,” and thriller “Utopia” from Maria Ripoll (“Tortilla Soup”) with a strong cast headed by Sbaraglia, Najwa Nimri (“Open Your Eyes”) and Tcheky Karyo.

One of Spain’s most cosmopolitan and market-driven producers with many international contacts, Ramos is also co-producing Matthe Parkhill’s “Dot the i” with Arcane Pics. and Summit Entertainment.

A co-production between Argentina’s Patagonik Film Group, Oscar Kramer and Alquimia, Pineyro’s latest pic, “Kamchatka,” went before the cameras May 11.

Pic toplines Cecilia Roth (“Al About My Mother”) and Ricardo Darin (“Son of the Bride,” “Nine Queens”).