Solito pic blossoms in Las Palmas

Philippine pic takes best film, actor and audience prizes

LAS PALMAS, Canary Islands — Philippine pic “The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros,” helmed by Auraeus Solito, took best film, actor (for tyke thesp Nathan Lopez) and audience awards at the 7th Las Palmas Intl. Film Fest.

Lopez shared his prize with “La Leyenda del Tiempo’s” Israel Gomez.

A low-budget debut with no profes-sional actors, Solito’s coming-of-age comedy turns on the awakening to life and love of a kid in Manila, who helps supports his family, a colorful bunch of small-time crooks.

Second prize went to family drama “Junebug,” from first-timer Phil Morri-son.

Laura Linney won actress for “The Squid and the Whale”; Spain’s “La Leyenda del Tiempo” took the special jury prize.

Fest bowed a tranche of undiscov-ered pics, led by Antoni Cuadri’s taxi driver tale “La buena voz,” and a clutch of docus: Juan Millares Alonso’s painter biopic “Cuadernos de contabili-dad de Manolo Millares,” based on the artist’s writings; “Pobladores,” from Manuel Garcia Serrano, a passionate portrait of Spain’s immigrants; “Una mirada sobre el prado que llora,” a penetrating chronicle about Theo Angelopoulos’ shooting “The Weeping Meadow”; and “Entre el dictador y yo,” in which young Spaniards give their views on dictator Francisco Franco.

Fest sets out to present “young non-conformist films, contrasting with the paralysis in most commercial produc-tions worldwide,” said director Claudio Utrera.

Running March 30-April 1, the 4th Euroforum mini-mart attempted to drum up some completion finance for 25 Euro pic projects by stitching together co-prod coin.

“Co-productions look set to in-crease even more,” said Euroforum director, Teodoro Rios.” There’s increasing pressure on producers to make more commercially competitive films, which cost more, prompting them to share risks,” he added.

Pics currying buzz included “Tango Bar” (Latteyer Filmproduktion, Ger-many), “The Paradox” (Bocaboca Producciones, Spain), “Reflection” (Totem Producciones, Spain), “The Girl from Steinway” (A Atalanta, Slovenia), and “Annie and Benny” (Slate Films, U.K.).

Spain’s Aquelarre and Germany’s Papermoon Films inked a co-production accord on Manolo Gomez’s $2 million pic about urban solitude “Propios y extranos.”

Local pic authorities tubthumped the Zona Especial Canaria (ZEC): The Canary Islands’ new status as a low-tax zone, offering tax advantages for film and TV companies setting up shop there.

Las Palmas fest ran March 24 – April 1.