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‘Marshland,’ ‘El Niño,’ ‘Magical Girl,’ ‘Wild Tales’ Face Off for 2015 Spanish Academy Goya Awards

Goyas Awards looks set to celebrate bumper 2014 for Spanish cinema – and industry’s still precarious financing

MADRID — Alberto Rodriguez’s “Marshland,” Daniel Monzon’s “El Niño,” Carlos Vermut’s “Magical Girl” and Argentine Damian Szifron’s “Wild Tales” look set to face off for major honors at the Spanish Academy’s 29th Goya Awards.

A noirish period procedural-thriller, which has drawn comparisons with “True Detective,” and delivers one of the first measured portraits of the complexities of Spain’s (still in course) transition to democracy, “Marshland” has snagged 17 nominations to 16 for “El Niño’” a narco-trade actioner set around the Gibraltar Straits, whose production values raise the bar for Spanish cinema.

Confirming the emergence of an original voice able to reflect on the impact of Spain’s crisis while constructing scenes of a near Tarantino-esque tension, “Magical Girl” nabbed seven noms, “Wild Tales,” a frontrunner for the foreign-language Oscar nod, scored six.

Along with Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño’s “Flowers,” an elegant Basque Country relationship drama that competed at San Sebastian, all four vie for best picture, director and original screenplay.

3D toon “Mission Implausible,” an espionage spoof, scored six nominations.

Held Feb. 7 – which ensures a rapid return from the Berlin Festival for part of the Spanish industry – this year’s Goyas, Spain0s equivalent of the Oscars – looks set to be a bittersweet affair.

In terms of domestic box office and market share, Spain has just come off its best year in modern times, Spanish movies grossing around a combined €130 million ($156 million) in Spain, Their market share, 24.9%, per Rentrak, is the best since 1977. Yet, in an election year to boot, there is little visibility about the future of state subsidies in Spain, which stymies bank financing for most companies.

In such a context, TV finance and promotion – the latter crucial when explaining Spain’s boffo 2014 – has become the mainstay of financing for the industry.

Seen from an industrial point of view, Spain’s 2015 Goya is could be cast as face-off between Telecinco Cinema, the film production unit of Mediaset España, and Atresmedia Cine, the film arm of Spain’s other dominant broadcast network.

Co-producing “El Niño,” which grossed €16.3 million ($19.8 million) plus Spain’s biggest hometurf hit ever, “Spanish Affair,” with an extraordinary €56.2 million ($68.3 million) gross, Telecinco Cinema grabbed a total 22 nominations; Atresmedia Cine, which co-produced “Marshland,” has scooped 19.

Wild cards could, however, be the best actress category, where “Magical Girl’s” Barbara Lennie is being talked up as the favorite. Co-produced by Pedro and Agustin Almodóvar El Deseo, a Sony Pictures Classics U.S. pick-up which is distributed by Warner Bros. in Latin America, Spain and France, “Wild Tales” is another wild card. The Spanish Academy has occasionally nominated foreign talent, such as Szifron. As Santiago Segura observed in a Goya speech a few years back, the final plaudit usually remains in Spain.

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