Steady Trading at Spain’s San Sebastian Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

Festival ever more important to lend more visibility to Toronto titles

SAN SEBASTIAN – Bille August’s “Silent Heart,” Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden” and Russian ice-hockey docu “Red Army” saw Spanish distribution deals at a 62nd San Sebastian Festival, which looks set to go down for steady trading announcements, as sales agents seek further visibility and deals on Toronto titles, bullish Spanish movie lineup and the mass presence of Latin American producers, as San Sebastian consolidates, as one of the top pan-Latin American film meets of the year. Reflecting that, industry attendance increased from 1,290 last year to 1,370, a 6% rise. Many sales agents and producers at San Sebastian will now reconvene at Ventana Sur.

Among sales agents, Wild Bunch, The Match Factory – with a well-received “Phoenix” – Films Distribution, Film Factory Ent., Red Bull Media House, MK2, TrustNordisk, Visit Films, Wide Management, LevelK and Jour2Fete all saw deal announcements.

In one of San Sebastian’s biggest industry moves, Denmark and New York-based sales agent LevelK and Spain’s Golem Distribucion closed Spanish distribution rights to Bille August’s “Silent Heart.”

An intimate drama turning on euthanasia, “Silent Heart” world premiered at San Sebastian, gathering good audience’s reactions. LevelK also sold “Heart” to Brazil’s California Filmes during the festival, and concluded a deal online with Korea’s Jin Jin. Pre-sales take in Benelux (Wild Bunch), Taiwan (Atom), Hungary (Cirko) and Australia (Madman).

Also at San Sebastian, Abordar Distribution inked Spanish rights with Kinology to Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden,” which vies for the Golden Shell in competition, and, out of the fest, also closed with Film Distribution the acquisition of coming-of-age feature “Girlhood,” Barcelona-based Abordar’s Juan Carlos de la Hoz reported.

Wild Bunch sold Russian ice hockey docu “Red Army,” a Zabaltegi player at San Sebastian, to Spain’s Caramel Films, headed by Enrique Gonzalez-Kuhn.

The Match Factory announced early week a slew of new sales on “Phoenix,” bar Michael E. Roskam’s “The Drop,” the most popular of international titles in San Sebastian competition, with the Finecut-sold “Haemoo” (Sea Fog”), per a Spanish critics’ poll.

An ever-building market force in action sports and adventure movie production, Red Bull Media House confirmed a U.S. deal, plus other theatrical distrib pacts –and 250-screen opening for Dana Brown’s “On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter.”

Spain’s most active sales agent, on Spanish and Latin American titles alike, Film Factory sold “Marshland” to Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte in France and moved forcefully to acquire Jayro Bustamante’s “Ixcanul,” co-produced by Edgard Tenembaum, a favorite at San Sebastian’s Films in Progress pix-in-post strand.

TrustNordisk confirmed U.K. (Vertigo) and France (KMBO) deals on yet another San Sebastian Competition contender, Susanne Bier’s “A Second Chance.”

Jour2Fete sold Franck Ribiere’s “directorial deb, “Steak Revolution,” to Germany’s Tiberius Film.

Lowering of pricing-points for sales to Spain, the entry of new Spanish players, and distrib sector alliances has multiplied deals, as was the aim.

Two examples: Madrid-based arthouse distributor Good Films’ Ivan Barredo closed with Fionnuala Jamison at MK2 on Spanish rights to Naomi Kawase’s “Still the Water,” a San Sebastian’s Pearls player. Good Films, which aims to release the film by next Spring, will share Spanish rights with Barcelona’s La Aventura. Good will focus on theatrical and non-theatrical while La Aventura will handle VOD and TV rights, Barredo said.

On the eve of San Sebastian, A Contracorriente Films picked up Antonio Banderas-starrer “Automata,” and Mexico and Paris-based NDM licensed Argentine Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja,” starring Viggo Mortensen, to new Spanish distributor Noucinemart.

In further market deals, Wanda Films’ Jose Maria Morales unveiled the prior acquisition of Barry Levinson’s Al Pacino-starred “The Humbling,” sold by Millennium Films.

Given the caution of many buyers, however, many Toronto-broached, San Sebastian-continued deals will close in the weeks to come.

At Wide Management, Loic Magneron reported “The Lesson” sold to Barbara Sturm for Brazil and would be licensed to another South American territory very shortly, Spain should close on “Margarita, With a Straw” in the next two weeks. After its warm reception at San Sebastian,  the Wide House sold “Finding Gaston,” in fest’s Culinary Section, “should find buyers very quickly,”  he added.

At San Sebastian, Magneron sold three classic titles – Jean Renoir’s “A Day in the Country,” “La Direction d’acteurs par Jean Renoir,” by Gisele Braunberger and “Essais d’acteurs,” helmed by Alain Fleisher – to Japan’s Crest Int’l.

“Films in Progress is always interesting, a great networking event,” said Magneron. “When you have a film in Toronto like ‘The Lesson,’ being in competition here is good timing, gives momentum to sales.”

Of world premieres, many buzz titles were Spanish – “Marshland,” “Magical Girl” – or, more specifically, Basque: Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga’s “Flowers,” which charmed Spanish critics, and Roberto Caston’s “The Silly Ones and the Stupid Ones.”

Until Spain’s ICAA Film Institute resolves uncertainty over subsidy aid, TV coin will remain bedrock Spanish film financing. At San Sebastian, pubcaster RTVE announced it had acquired Julio Medem’s “Ma Ma,” co-produced and starring Penelope Cruz, Arcadia Motion Pictures’ European co-production “Proyecto Lazaro,” directed by Mateo Gil (“Blackthorn”) and Cesc Gay’s comedy “Truman.” It confirmed it would continue its commitment with local pics, ploughing about Euro26 million ($33.8 million) into feature, documentary and animation investment during this year.

Such RTVE buys used to be one pillar of the industry. As things now stand, TV moneys are a life-line.

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