Spanish cinema: Talent roundup

Spain's fertile filmmaking ground nurtures new talent

Director’s work goes from noir to more noir as he explores dark themes
Helmer Aviles debuts with “Retornos,” a hard-boiled noirer set in rural Galicia. Produced by Vaca Films (“Cell 211”), plot charts a father-daughter reunion after a 10-year hiatus and dad’s attempts to save her from a backstreet prostitution racket. Aviles already has noirish short “A subela” in the locker, and next feature project is also dark in tone as well.

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Animator with Pixar connections is ready for travel
Blaas’ first animated short, “Alma,” a buzz-title at Sitges, tells the story of a girl enchanted by a puppet. A regular collaborator with Pixar boasting credits on “Up,” “Wall-E” and “Finding Nemo,” Blaas is pragmatic about a solo career. “It’s a golden age for animation, but production in Spain is up and down; you have to be prepared to travel,” he says. Now working as character-animation supervisor on an untitled Pixar project, his own debut shouldn’t be long in coming.

Creating worlds with light, darkness and color
Gimenez’s credits as d.p. are as good as it gets, including gigs on Alejandro Amenabar’s “Agora” and Brad Anderson’s “The Machinist.” “Yellow” is about a rebel adolescent living on the edge and can only look good. Gimenez is also developing another project with “Yellow” scribe Pere Saballs and creative consultant Ferran Calvo along the lines of Michael Haneke’s “Benny’s Video.”

Shorts and a new feature target human psychology
Internationally acclaimed short “Notes of the Other” tells story of wannabe Ernest Hemingway doubles and Hemingway’s own desire to be “somebody else.” Helmer Oksman is finishing a couple of shorts in the same “essay-line” and penning first feature, “Bremen,” about dreams, nightmares and the difficulties of waking up.

Composer-helmer embarks on road movie about lost brothers
After his successful short “Os Crebinsky,” helmer-composer Otero decided to shoot a feature with the same title. “Crebinsky” is a road movie about two orphaned brothers lost in Galicia. Fable has certain echoes of Kusturica and the iconography of “Delicatessen.” Produced by Otero’s Control Z, Farruco Castroman, Luis Tosar’s Zircozine and Miguel de Lira’s Chevere Vision. Goya-winning actor Luis Tosar (“Miami Vice,” “Cell 211”) co-stars.

Storyboard and stereo talents could propel him to Hollywood
Director Recio’s debut, animated short “The Lady and the Reaper,” was a 2010 Oscar nominee and Goya winner, produced by Antonio Banderas’ Green Moon and Kandor Graphics. Same companies are behind the in-prep $30 million “Goleor, the Scale and the Sword,” a digital 3D English-lingo epic adventure, on which Recio works as a storyboard and stereo artist. His aim is to work “for a U.S. studio as a storyboard artist” as his own project cooks away on the backburner — for the moment.

Finding the meaning of life in filmmaking
Maverick Siminiani’s shorts have won awards by the bushel. His work focuses on three things: “classic fiction, docu-essays and logbooks.”Avalon Prods. and Pantalla Partida Prods. are producing his debut, “Mapa,” a hybrid docu-fiction about a young filmmaker who travels to India in search of the meaning of life — and ends up shooting a film.

Ducumentary maker explores loss, death and feminist themes
Helmer bowed with deeply personal docu “Nedar” (Swimming), exploring memory loss, both individual (her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s) and social (her grandfather’s summary execution by Franco’s regime). Second docu “Volar” (Flying) will be co-produced by Zentropa Intl. Spain. ” ‘Volar’ is the study of female gestures in a context of male hegemony,” she said.

Long hours, large hopes
“Blog,” a high concept mockumentary about a group of schoolgirls who decide to get pregnant at the same time, is already a buzz title.”We set cameras in the girls’ bedroom and shot 24 hours a day for six months,” explains the helmer. Trape wants to continue in this creative docu line. “Blog” is produced by Escandalo, which produced first features from Barcelona talent hothouse, film school ESCAC.

Talent runs in family of young helmer going solo
Son of director Fernando Trueba (“The Dancer and the Thief”), Jonas Trueba found his voice early co-directing with Victor Garcia Leon the hilarious but quietly caustic high-school romancer “No Pain, No Gain.” He has just completed the Latido-sold “Every Song is About Me,” his first solo feature, an episodic ensembler about romantic break-up. Film fest berths beckon.