MADRID – Lorenz Merz’s “Cherry Pie” won the top Valencia Moon and a €30,000 ($40,800) cash prize for its Spanish distributor at the 29th Valencia Intl. Film Festival Cinema Jove, a cinema confab based out of Valencia, Spain’s third-biggest city, which has carved out a niche for first and second films often on the edgier or more experimental side of arthouse.
The debut feature of Paris-based Swiss cinematographer Merz, whose credits include Rolando Colla’s “Summer Games” and Peter Luisi’s “The Sandman,” road movie “Pie” stars Lolita Chammah (“Farewell My Queen”) as a young woman who, attempting to escape from herself, hitch-hikes through France, eventually crossing the English Channel.
World-premiering out of competition at Locarno last year, “Cherry Pie” is sold by Xavier Henry Rashid’s Film Republic, a London-based arthouse film sales agent, which has licensed “Cherry Pie” to date for Benelux via the iTunes Rotterdam Festival curation scheme.
The cash prize indeed reps as much as many small or experimental foreign-language arthouse films can expect from their totality of world sales, and Spain remains one of Europe’s toughest markets to sell into.
“Prizes like these definitely help in releasing specialized films, especially in Spain where distribution for these films is maybe less straight forward than the rest of Western Europe,” said Rashid, indicating the film would shortly continue its festival run. Though some of Film Republic’s titles screen in well over 100 festivals each, a good income stream, that distribution does not replace the traditional sales distribution model.
A special jury mention went to Anna Kazejak’s second film “Obietnica” (“The Word”). A Poland/Denmark co-production is a combination of a youth drama and an enthralling crime story.
Backed by Valencia’s Town Hall and regional government, Cinema Jove runs on an exiguous budget of $681,705, low even by austerity Spain standards, boasting a carefully curated competition and honorary prize line-up based on the early films of helmers who often go on to far greater recognition worldwide: Bryan Singer visited Cinema Jove with his debut, “Public Access”; Nicolas Winding Refn received its Luna de Valencia prize in 2007, four years before “Drive.” Beyond that, Cinema Jove also rolls off highly popular appearances by Spain’s younger generation of filmmakers.
Nacho Vigalando presented the trailer of the anticipated “Open Windows,” with Sasha Grey and Elijah Wood. Vigalondo confirmed he had recently been working on found-footage horror omnibus movie “V/H/S: Viral,” whose other helmers include Justin Benson and Greg Bishop.
Also in Valencia, “Spanish Affair” director Emilio Martinez-Lazaro and co-writer Borja Cobeaga announced they are already working on a spin-off. Spain’s biggest local blockbuster ever, “Affair” has cumed of $71.5 million to date in Spain.
Up-and-coming Spanish actress Aura Garrido (“Stockholm,” “Vulcania”) picked up a Future of Cinema award. Belgian director Joachim Lafosse (“Our Children,” “Private Property”) and Hungarian sand animator Ferenc Cako (“Face”) received career achievement Valencia Moon awards.
Cinema Jove, which ran June 20-27, closed with “Global Player,” from German helmer Hannes Stohr (“Galatasaray-Depor”).
CINEMA JOVE AWARDS, 2014
“Cherry Pie,” (Lorenz Merz, Switzerland)
SPECIAL JURY MENTION
“The Word,” (Anna Kazejak, Poland)
“Matka,” (Lukasz Ostalski, Poland)
SPECIAL JURY MENTION, DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“La larme du bourreau,” (Layth Abdulamir, France)
SPECIAL JURY MENTION, ANIMATION SHORT
“Nashorn im Galopp,” Erik Schmitt (Germany)
SPECIAL JURY MENTION, SHORT
“O umbra de nor,” Radu Jude (Romania)
FUTURE OF CINEMA AWARD
HONORARY GOLDEN MOONS