MADRID — “Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box,” “A Gun in Each Hand” and “Inevitable” proved standouts at this week’s Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings, Spain’s biggest annual film market for Spanish films whose industry announcements this year confirmed an ongoing revolution in the way films are getting made in the still crisis-wracked country.
A Victorian-England young-teen fantasy adventure co-produced by the U.K.’s Entertainment Motion Pics and Spain’s Arcadia Motion Pics, “Mariah Mundi” was by far the biggest of titles screening at Madrid de Cine in budget and cast, lead by Michael Sheen (“Midnight in Paris”), Sam Neill (“The Tudors”) and Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”).
Most of the world was pre-sold on “Mariah,” with a U.S. sale now in the offing, Dreamcatchers’ partner Marina Fuentes told Variety.
Produced by Marta Esteban’s Impossible Films, sold by The Match Factory and a breakout art-house hit in Spain, Cesc Gay’s “Gun” has already closed 20 territories.
Opening Espagnolas en Paris’ Spanish film festival Different 6! to long applause on Friday, “Gun” was bought for France by Daniel Harroch’s Zylo Films after he met with The Match Factory’s Brigitte Suarez at Different’s mini-mart Rendez-vous a l’Opera! Harroch then screened “Gun” at Madrid de Cine.
“Different! and Madrid de Cine are a very good combination,” Suarez commented.
Zylo’s deal on a “Gun’s” selection for Different! guarantees a pick-up from France’s Canal Plus film-channel-bouquet Cine Plus, headed by Bruno Deloye, a significant deal sweetener.
The second feature from Jorge Algora (“The Mudboy”), “Inevitable” tips its hat to Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges in a fantasy-tinged Buenos Aires-set romantic drama-come-thriller featuring a top-notch Argentine-Spanish cast including Dario Grandinetti (“Talk to Her”) and Federico Luppi (“Pan’s Labyrinth”).
“Inevitable” attracted buyer interest from Germany, Scandinavia, Italy and France, said Pedro Peira, at production-sales house Festimania Pics.
Among other titles drawing often upbeat buyer reactions: “Alpha,” an above-par one-last-job thriller, which Filmax has under negotiation for France and Italy; Madrid-set dysfunctional lover comedy “I Am Dating You Not”; and Andalusian slice-of-life matriarch comedy “Carmina Or Blow Up,” sold by Cinema Republic, and enthusiastically applauded at a special screening at Madrid’s Cineteca.
Running June 17-19, Madrid de Cine unspooled as the number of shoots in Spain this year dropped through June 12 by 26% to 43, less than half the number of Spanish features which went into production over the same period in 2011. Only a quarter of 2013 titles had – for Spanish films higher-bracket budgets, per Jose Antonio Feliz, president of producers’ assn. Asociacion Estatal de Cine.
Organized by Spain’s Fapae producers’ federation, Madrid de Cine’s “taking place was in itself a real achievement,” given Spain’s austere time, said Film Factory’s Vicente Canales.
But the lack of bigger new Spanish titles coming onto the market is worrying sales agents and foreign distributors alike.
“Spain now has to compete for Spanish-language market sales with emerging market cinemas. As its volume of production falls, there’s a danger of Spain being overtaken by Colombia and Chile, among others,” said Somos TV’s Jose Ramon Ganchegui.
That said, the Spanish film industry is not taking crisis lying down.
During Madrid de Cine, Paris bank Natixis-Coficine made public the appointment of Gate Media as its official agent in Spain and Latin America. Move should increase credit for Spain’s liquidity-parched film, TV and animation industries. Telecinco Cinema (“The Impossible,” “Tad, the Lost Explorer”), the film arm of broadcast group Mediaset Group, confirmed it is preparing ambitious titles for the international market, Rodar y Rodar that it has appointed consultancy Estratelis to advise on a stock market listing.
Spanish sale agents also closed multiple international sales deals, now a Spanish film industry lifeblood. Among Madrid de Cine trading:
*Miami-based Somos TV acquired U.S. pay-TV rights to “A Gun In Each Hand” and “Clara no es un nombre de mujer.” It is in advanced talks to also acquire “Ali,” sold by Horacio Urban’s Urban Films.
*Imagina International Sales acquired foreign sales rights to Diego Galan’s Cannes Classics’ player, “Barefoot in the Kitchen,” a chronicle of how women were portrayed in Spanish cinema from the 1930s onwards. Weisner Distribution closed Puerto Rico on Imagina’s dysfunctional lovers’ comedy “I Am Dating You Not” and period romp “Picasso’s Gang.”
*Film Factory sold “Code 60” to Japan’s Only Hearts and a four-film-pack – “Ismael,” “La gran familia espanola,” “Three Many Weddings,” “Unit 7 “ – to Dexin Film in former-Yugoslavia. Canales is fielding key territory offers on “Zip & Zap,” which is tipped for a major fall fest.
*DeAPlaneta sold Colombian kidnapping drama “Operation E” to Palmera Intl. for Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica.
*Filmax Intl. has “Son of Cain” and “Here’s the Deal” under negotiation for Germany and “Torment” for Latin American countries.