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‘Lobster Soup,’ ‘Matrioskas,’ ‘The Mystery of Pink Flamingos,’ ‘Niño de Elche’ Pitch at San Sebastian

‘Lobster Soup' also scoops two prizes

SAN SEBASTIAN  — “Lobster Soup” scooped a €3,000 ($4,800 USD) cash prize for best project at San Sebastian’s Lau Haizetara‘s Documentary Co-production Forum. It also won a second award for distribution.

Produced by Valencia’s Suica Films, Basque Country’s REC Grabaketa Estudioa and Iceland’s Axfilms, “Lobster Soup” portrays a small community around Iceland’s Bryggjan café, where each morning its famous lobster soup is prepared. José Andreu and Rafael Molés will direct.

Other buzzed titles among the 14 projects pitched on Thursday were “Matrioskas, las niñas de la guerra,” “The Mystery of Pink Flamingos,” “There Was and There Wasn’t,” and “Niño de Elche”.

A Basque production from Haruru Filmak and Sincro Producción, “Matrioskas” plumbs into the lives of five seemingly ordinary 90-something women who hide their extraordinary lives. Fleeing northern Spain during the Civil War, they lived in exile in the USSR and finally Cuba.

Produced by growing Basque company Sr. y Sra, “Niño de Elche” plumbs the essence of flamenco and the singular personality of singer Niño de Elche, a child prodigy beloved by the flamenco community until he started playing around with the rigid rules of the artform. Marc Sempere and Leire Apellaniz will direct.

Barcelona-based Japonica Films presents “The Mystery of The Pink Flamingos,” where a logical yet eccentric sound engineer dreams of the pink birds in a reflection on the kitsch and provocative culture surrounding the symbol of this handsome creature.

Organized by Basque producers association Ibaia, in partnership with the Festival’s Industry Department, the Lau Haizetara Forum this year underscored the strong traditions –and yet burgeoning present– of the Catalonia and the Basque Country documentary sectors. Last year, Catalonia produced 25 documentaries and the Basque Country 10 (not including those just to be aired).

As for Lau Haizetara, Basque companies lead three projects and co-produce another two. Four projects originate from Catalan production outfits; Madrid and Valencia present one each. Norway, Italy, France and Germany bring one project each.

In Andrea Capranico’s “There Was and There Wasn’t” –from Italy’s Aquatic Films and Ladoc with Canada’s Ripley Point Pictures– a former Armenian terrorist embarks on a difficult reconciliation with his son.

“The Other Side of The River” from Germany’s Doppelplusultra Film and TV Produktion, follows Hala, a young Arab woman from a conservative Syrian city who wants to be free and find love, but is set for an arranged marriage to an IS combatant.

France’s Sister Productions and Prima Luce team with leading Basque TV and film producers Irusoin and Gastibeltza Filmak on “The Democratic Hypothesis,” chronicling the history of the Basque conflict from the Spanish Civil War to the org’s definitive dissolution in 2018.

Lobster Soup
CREDIT: Suica Films

The 14 projects run a broad gamut, ranging from culinary art to anthropological issues with an emphasis on social, humanistic and political concerns. In terms of financing models, the international co-productions already sealed are sometimes noteworthy – and unusual when judged against past practices of largely national funding in the documentary arena.

Asier Altuna (“Amama,” “Go!”) is directing “Arzak since 1897,” produced by Bainet Zinema, about one of the best chef sagas in the world – the Arzaks, a symbiosis between a culinary nation, the Bsques, and its growing documentary industry.

Barcelona-based Inicia Films and Trueday Films are allying on “La flota de Indias,” about  the historical consequences of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas and the creation of an unparalleled naval system: the Spanish Treasure Fleet.

In regards to the budgets of the documentaries at this year’s of Lau Haizetara Forum, they range from $152,869 to $587,959; the average budget being set at $331,187.

In international link-ups, Madrid’s Salon Indien Films and Linda Films team with Italy’s 39Films and India’s HY Pictures to depict a unique event in “Nagorno Karabakh’s Great Wedding” – 700 couples married at the same time. Financed by an Armenian millionaire, this historic event was part of a national strategy to increase the birth rate.

From leading Barcelona TV company Batabat, “Mal de caña” unveils some of the coercive mechanisms that sustain the contemporary plantation system in the Dominican Republic.

From Norway’s North Film, “Newtopia,” a documentary shot by director Audun Amundsen in the remote jungle of Mentawai, Indonesia, pictures a family living a traditional tribal lifestyle which is thrown into the contemporary world.

“Persia on Air,” a Quatre Films production directed by cinema journalist Javier Tolentino, comprises a travel notebook about the depths of Persian culture, with a Spanish cultural radio reporter touring  Iran to meet musicians and luthiers through.

Spain’s Kepler Mission Films, Perro Negro Cine and White Leaf Producciones team on “We Die,” a documentary exposing the magical-realist conception of death in three very unique minority communities in Indonesia, India and Mexico.

CREDIT: Ulises Proust/San Sebastian film festival

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