Genre Pics Learn New Lingo for Global Marketplace

Sitges fest showcases English-language horror and fantasy movies from Spanish producers

Seven Spanish films debut in major sections across the 46th Sitges Fantastic Fest, Europe’s biggest fantasy and genre event, and all but one are in English.

Those films point to a major trend in filmmaking worldwide as more and more companies seek to maximize international returns via co-production and pre-sales.

Grand Piano,” starring Elijah Wood (pictured above) and John Cusack, which opens Sitges Oct. 11, took that route. The film bowed to positive reviews at the Austin Fantastic Fest. A concert-set psychological thriller, co-produced by Adrian Guerra’s Nostromo Pictures and broadcaster-backed Atresmedia Cine, it was sold by Lisa Wilson and Myles Nestel’s the Solution Entertainment Group across the world.

“Genre transmits universal emotions: Fear, anguish, horror, suspense,” says Xavier Parache at Gate Media, a Barcelona film finance consultancy and packager. “It’s logical that Catalan production companies, which have become authentic genre specialists, shoot with an American cast, as in ‘Grand Piano,’ making productions with greater international potential.”

Shooting in English allows directors to work with actors who have a bigger marquee value worldwide. For example, Jake Gyllenhaal toplines Sitges screening “Enemy,” Denis Villeneuve’s paranoia thriller, co-produced by Roxbury Pics and Rhombus Media, first seen at Toronto. Among Sitges world premieres, is “Mindscape,” Jorge Dorado’s debut feature and the first production from Jaume Collet-Serra’s Spanish genre pic label Ombra Films.

“Making films in English helps you become better known internationally, and the films have a bigger chance of reaching more territories abroad,” says Joaquin Padro at shingle Rodar y Rodar.

International reach is now a necessity.

While Catalonia production levels have remained healthy, funding at Catalonia’s ICEC, the industry’s main subsidy source, plunged 32% from €12 million ($16 million) in 2011 to $10.9 million in 2013. “As producers, we’ve had to go to the international market for financing,” Guerra says.

Almost 80% of Sitges’ lineup lacks Spanish distribution, says fest director Angel Sala. But “the fantastic is extremely alive with an enormous diversity. More than new trends, there’s a sophistication of existing ones, such as found-footage and vampire features: The genre is evolving,” he says.

But it’s not just genre pics on display at Sitges.

TV toons are a major export biz in Europe. Now an increasing number of mainstream animated movies are making sizable box office in their home countries and abroad, such as Belgium’s “Sammy’s Adventures 2,” Spain’s “Tad, the Lost Explorer” and Argentina’s “Foosball.”

Riding the wave of these market realities, Sitges is debuting Anima’t Sitges — Barcelona Cartoon Forum.

According to event organizers, 60% of Spain’s total toon business, judged by annual turnover, is based in Catalonia.

Anima’t will showcase 12 projects from around the world. They will be pitched to about 25 buyers and producers. Catalan productions to be pitched include Imira Entertainment’s “Mondo Yan,” a short-format TV series about three teen superheroes; “Invizimals,” a half-hour BRB Intl. and Sony Computer Entertainment co-production; and “Cocorico,” a pre-school series based on a Burmese folk tale about the need to listen to savvy advice produced by Edebe.

Event takes place Oct. 10-11.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Kanye West

    Kanye West to Preview ‘Jesus Is King’ Album and Film in Los Angeles on Wednesday

    On the heels of Monday’s announcement that Kanye West’s delayed “Jesus Is King” album will be released on Friday along with a companion IMAX film, the rapper will preview both projects at the Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, it was announced this morning. Tickets for the “Jesus Is King Album & Film Experience” will be [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    The Arcs Festival Taps Isabelle Huppert to Head The Talent Village For Young Helmers

    Guillaume Nicloux, the French director of “Valley of Love,” is set to preside over the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, while the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) will be the patron of the second edition of the Talent Village. Created last year, the Talent Village is a development workshop and platform for emerging [...]

  • Isaac Perlmutter Disney Marvel

    Does Kevin Feige's Marvel Promotion Mean Ike Perlmutter's Endgame?

    Last week’s move giving Kevin Feige charge of Marvel’s television, animation and print editorial operations should come as no surprise. As the architect of the company’s enormous film success, Feige arguably has the most enviable track record of any contemporary entertainment executive. Extending his creative control over more of the Marvel universe seems like a [...]

  • Santa Barbara

    Anais Pareto Onghena Brings ‘Santa Barbara’ WIP to Impulso Morelia

    Having impressed at the Morelia Intl. Film Festival in the past with her short films, Spanish born, Mexican trained filmmaker Anaïs Pareto Onghena returns to the Michoacán capital with her latest feature “Santa Bárbara,” participating in the Impulso Morelia works in progress sidebar. Bárbara, a Bolivian woman living in Barcelona for more than a decade, [...]

  • Anna Movie

    EuropaCorp's U.S. Arm Gets Six-Month Debt Waiver From Paris Court

    EuropaCorp Films USA, the U.S. arm of Luc Besson’s Paris-based company, has been granted a six-month debt waiver from a French commercial court. Parent company EuropaCorp has already been on a six-month debt waiver since May, and the protection is supposed to come to an end in late November. A source close to the company [...]

  • Charles Tesson, Katrin Pors and John

    Morelia, Locarno Festivals Host Fifth Academy for Young Professionals

    Mexico’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival (FICM) and Locarno Academy are hosting the fifth edition of their joint academy for young professionals at this year’s festival, supported by the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) and the Ibermedia program. The Morelia/Imcine-Locarno Intl. Industry Academy – it’s official name . counts as one of a series of Academies hosted [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content