Leonardo Sbaragalia, Rachida Brakni to Star in ‘11,247’

‘Animas’ snags German co-production: forum underscores vitality of Spanish genre cinema and Spain’s move towards glocal arthouse

From left to right, top row):
Courtesy of Small is Biutiful

PARIS – Leonardo Sbaragalia (“Wild Tales”) and Rachida Brakni (“The Straight Line”) are attached to star in “11,247,” a psycho thriller set up at Spain’s Tornasol Films and Argentina’s Haddock Films, producers of Oscar-winning “The Secret in their Eyes.”

Like “Secret,” “11,247” explores what its director, Gabriel Mamruth, calls “the collateral damage” of Argentina’s Dirty War, waged by its Junta dictatorship, with a character setting out to discover the truth behind an life-changing event: Here, the discovery by a Spain-based Interpol agent, that his father, who supposedly disappeared during the dictatorship, is still alive, living under a false identity in Paris.

But when Lucas finally confronts his father, the truth is not as black-and-white as he may have expected, Mamruth explained at Small is Biutiful, a key Spanish film project forum that, part of the Paris Spanish film festival Different 8!, took place Friday in Paris.

Rodolfo de Souza (“Cartagena”) will play Lucas’ father. Key cast also features Marilu Marini (“Made Up Lies”), “11,247” producer Gerardo Herrero confirmed in Paris.

“11,247,” the Paris-Madrid-Buenos Aires kilometer distance. Mamruth explained, was by a head the biggest-budgeted project at a Small is Biutiful where, in further industrial news, Jose Ortuno, director of “Animas,”, announced that “Animas” will be co-produced by Germany’s Gauger Film. Directed by Roberto Gaston, Luis Miñarro and Karim Ainouz, “3Lorca3,” another meet highlight, is being structured as a Spain-Brazil co-production.

Attended by French distributors, sales agents and fest-heads, Small is Biutiful, which is organized by Alain Coiffier and José Maria Riba at Espagnolas en Paris and the Ile de France Film Commission. Backed by Cannes’ Marche du Film – immaculately organized, mixing business and Spanish gastronomy at Paris’ El Patio restaurant, just off Place d’Opera, Small is Biutiful is a fixture on the early summer meet-mart calendar.

It also served to confirm two trends in Spain’s arthouse/crossover industry: the resilience of genre as an option for first-time directors; the emergence of a robustly glocal – local/global – arthouse sector. Sometimes of course they mix.

Lead-produced by Seville’s Acheron Films, “Animas” is a resolutely high-concept horror psycho-thriller in which a seventeen-year-old kid comes to the realization that he doesn’t exist, but is in fact his best-friend’s imaginary friend. And his best friend, visiting a psychiatrist, is desperately trying to get rid of the mental baggage from his childhood, Alex included. But Alex fights for his existence.

“There are a lot of films about imaginary friends, but not from the point of view of the imaginary friend,” Ortuño told an industry audience at Small is Biutiful.

Presented via a remarkably detailed trailer at Small is Biutiful, “Future Imperfect” turns on domestic abuse. “But if I had presented that directly, it could have been boring,” director Alfredo Arciero said in Paris.

Instead, he casts it in a fantasy thriller with social undertones in which the victim, a young violinist, remakes her life, until her husband resurfaces and kill her. But that is a premonition, she realizes as she regains consciousness after cutting her veins: When her husband reappears, she battles to prove her premonition wrong.

Likewise, spinning metaphors for the modern human condition, “Hidden City,” a big city set creative docu, explores the flip-side of its glistening over-ground: The under-ground conduits, flood-barriers, hidden passages, rats and high anti-depressant drug traces in its waterways.  “It will be shot like a sci-fi film,” director Victor Moreno said in Paris.

If half Small is Biutiful’s projects were fantasy film movies or had at least elements of genre, this is no coincidence.

“Spain has a remarkably rich fantastic film tradition. Forming part of that can be inspiring, and help interest potential co-production partners and international sales agents,” Olivier-Rene Veillon, Ile de France Film Commission exec director commented at Small is Biutiful.

Equally, the six projects highlight Spain’s move towards glocal arthouse.

Sharing the psychological focus of “Wounded,” which won a special jury prize and best actress (Marian Alvarez) at 2013’s San Sebastian Fest, but centring this time round on the dynamics of a couple’s relationship, Fernando Franco’s “Dying” is set at a house by the sea, to which a couple retreats to when the husband is diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. The specifics of the house and coast setting are very important, Franco said in Paris, but not for the cultural characteristics of the country where they’re shot but rather the landscape in the vein of France’s Bruno Dumont, he added.

“Animas” will be shot in English in Spain, integrating German key cast, a Spanish script, cinematographer and some actors, and possibly from France the score, editing sound, post-prod, and vfx, said producer Figueredo. But it will be set in no-place, he clarified.

Equally, Moreno has in mind to shoot “The Hidden City” in Madrid. But it would not be named in the film, and the film could be a portrait of many major European cities, or shot in another city, he said.

Or locations are highly specific – Madrid, Buenos Aires and Paris in “11,247” or the Amazon, the Basque Country and France or Barcelona in “3Lorca3,” another Small is Biutiful project – but used to illustrate the far larger reach of their subjects: How the “collateral damage” of Argentina’s ghastly Junta extends in time and place to modern Europe; the universality of poet Federico Lorca’s poetics, and the continuing fascination of his personality.

Reading Spaniard Lorca’s poetry, which is immersed in the colors, nature and colloquial turns of his native Andalusia, Leonard Cohen realized how he could write lyrics for songs.

Equally, “Ole,” from producer-turned-director Miñarro (“Falling Star”), a double fantasy, pictures two young men in 2016, Fede and Salva, discovering two rusty cans of film, an erotic “Preamble,” picturing two young men making love, shot by Luis Buñuel as an intro to “Un chien andalou,” in clear reference to Lorca and Salvador Dalí, a relationship which Buñuel forcibly opposed. But the faces of the young men in the film turn out to be Salva and Fede, “another way of emphasizing the continuing relevance of Lorca,” Miñarro comments.

Expanding on Lorca’s celebrated play, “Madre Yerma,” from Gaston (“Ander,” “The Silly Ones and the Stupid Ones”), which has a maternity-obsessed mother played by a man, will be shot in the Basque Country and in Basque, Gaston said in Paris. Brazil’s Ainouz (“Madame Sata,” “Praia do Futuro”) will helm “El futuro de un amor salvaje” which imagines that Lorca, instead of being executed by Franco’s regime in the Spanish Civil War, escaped to the Amazon with a young lover, finds in nature a world which does not reject him. It will be made in Portuguese, shooting in the Amazon.

Stressing the particular, the three directors underscore Lorca’s universal reach. It is a sign, in cinema, of an emerging movie zeitgeist not only in Spain but worldwide.

Prior films by the Spanish directors whose new projects are featured at Small is Biutiful have been made avilable on Cannes Film Market’s Cinando.