‘Rain’ reaps acclaim at Valladolid

Spanish Oscar submission energizes fest

VALLADOLID, Spain — Spanish director Iciar Bollain and Antonio Banderas energized early proceedings at Spain’s Valladolid Film Festival.

Bollain’s “Even the Rain,” which opened the fest Saturday, is Spain’s Oscar submission and was keenly awaited in Valladolid. The pic is the helmer’s fourth but the first to be based on a screenplay by her husband Paul Laverty, who is Ken Loach’s regular scribe.

Pic, which is produced by Morena Films, is being sold by Wild Bunch, which has racked up a host of sales in major territories. Vitagraph Films took U.S. rights off the Toronto world preem, and deals were clinched for France with Haut & Court, and for Germany with Concorde. Pic has also been sold to Canada, Benelux, Scandinavia, Portugal, Greece and some Asian countries.

“Rain,” a questioning, multi-themed chronicle of a Spanish producer overseeing a Christopher Columbus film shoot in Bolivia, confirmed its credentials as one of Spain’s potentially biggest arthouse breakouts in upcoming months its Valladolid reception.

Spaniards — such as Costa, played by Luis Tosar, a producer making a revisionist Columbus pic but paying locals a pittance — are often the butts of the pic’s barbs.

That hardly mattered to the Spanish press or public in Valadolid, where “Rain” drew warm applause at its opening gala and upbeat coverage, Spanish daily La Vanguardia calling it a “brilliant colonial allegory.”

Otherwise, Valladolid’s early stretch belonged to Banderas, who attended to pick up a career achievement Golden Spike at Saturday’s Gala.

Banderas announced he will helm and star in “Solo,” a psychological thriller with sci-fi touches, about a Spanish colonel suffering post-conflict trauma. Banderas plays the colonel.

Produced by Banderas’ Green Moon Spanish label and Spain’s Vertice, “Solo” is skedded to roll May/June 2011 (see Variety, Oct. 23, 2010).

The Banderas-Bollain double-whammy validated Valladolid’s sharp hike in Spanish presence under Javier Angulo, now in his third year as fest artistic director. Angulo said he had deliberately frontloaded the fest with Spanish films and figures.

After “Rain,” the biggest first weekend Spanish film was Agusti Vila’s Karlovy Vary Grand Prix winner, “The Mosquito Net,” a quietly hilarious portrait on a ultra-dysfunctional Barcena family, which played in competition.

Galician Luis Aviles’ feature debut “Retornos,” from “Cell 211” producers Vaca Films, a father-daughter reconciliation tale, world preemed in Valladolid’s Meeting Point sidebar.

A decade ago, “Retornos” might have played out as an intimist drama.

In a sign of Spain’s now total acceptance of genre, the father-daughter’s halting entente is powered by a noirish murder mystery.