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Huelva festival toasts ‘Whisky’

'Buenos Aires' takes original screenplay, special jury prizes

MADRID — A standout this year at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll’s “Whisky” took the Golden Columbus pic and director honors at the 30th Huelva Ibero-American Film Festival.

The straight-faced comedy from the Uruguayan writer-director team was Huelva’s competish fave, having scooped a screenplay plaudit at Sundance and the Regard Original and Fipresci critics kudos at Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

Montevideo-set pic turns drolly on a sock factory owner who asks his dowdy office manager to pose as his wife while his brother visits.

Meanwhile, “Buenos Aires 100km,” a bittersweet coming-of-age tale from first-time Argentinean helmer Pablo Jose Meza, nabbed original screenplay, first film and a special jury prize. “Cachimba,” from vet Chilean helmer Silvio Caiozzi, won actor (Julio Jung), actress (Mariana Loyola) and cinematography (Miguel Abal).

The Golden Columbus came with a broadcast rights pickup from Spanish pubcaster RTVE to the tune of E60,000 ($78,000), a large sum for a modestly budgeted pic.

The RTVE pickup reflects the evolution of Huelva from a specialist European showcase for Latin American movies into an event that also furthers their production and distribution.

Leading this business focus was the 5th Huelva Ibero-American Co-Production Forum, a three-day minimart that wrapped Nov. 16.

Of projects seeking production finance, there was a good buzz on two featuring love affairs with prostitutes: Bravo Films’ meller “La nao de China” (The Ship From China), by Mexican Patricia Arriaga Jordan, seeking some $300,000 in completion funding, and the lighter “Chicha tu madre,” from Peru’s Gianfranco Quattrini.

Also drawing attention were Shawn Garry’s “Desierto sur,” about a Spanish girl seeking her mother’s former lover; Colombian narc thriller “Perro come perro,” from Carlos H. Moreno; and “O bale da utopia,” a love-triangle meller from Brazilian production powerhouse L.C. Barreto.

The forum saw a good turnout from Spain’s young production companies including Alta, BocaBoca, Avalon, Oberon, Mediapro, KanZaman, Intuition and LaZona.

Foreign producers present included Oliver Thau from Germany’s Look! Produktion; Florence Shapiro, France’s the Co-Production Office; Fado Filmes’ Luis Galvao Teles; and Jacobo Ariel Saul, repping Argentina’s Patagonik Film Group.

With local broadcast finance a key to persuading co-production partners to back projects, producers’ biggest complaint was the absence of TV station execs.

But producers praised the event’s networking potential. “You establish long-term relationships with people here you wouldn’t have met any other way,” said Thau.

According to Spanish producers’ body Fapae, of 159 projects at the first four forums, 30 have been released. One, Costa Rica’s “Caribe,” took the audience award at this year’s Huelva, and 12 more are in post or awaiting release.

Huelva fest ran Nov.13-20.

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