BARCELONA – Paris-based production house La Fabrica Nocturna, a co-producer on Marcelo Martinessi’s Berlin prize winner “The Heiresses,” has boarded Spaniard Chema García Ibarra’s awaited feature debut “Sacred Spirit,” Variety learnt during the closing events at top Spanish development program The Incubator, run by the Madrid ECAM Madrid Film School, where the agreement was closed.

Produced by San Sebastian’s Apellániz y de Sosa and Alicante’s Jaibo Films, “Sacred Spirit” moves between local detail and dystopic surrealism, in which half of Spain sets out in search of a missing girl while a Spanish Ufology association— UFO-Levante— prepares for a night of sightings. The fate of humanity depends on one of its members: the morbidly obese José Manuel, who hides a secret.

Chosen by Variety as a Spanish talent to track, Chema García Ibarra’s  shorts – “The Attack of the Robots from Nebula-5,” “Protoparticles,” “Mystery” – have been screened and awarded at festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Rotterdam, Bafici, and Tallinn, among others.

“We have been following Chema’s short films for years and we are delighted to be the French co-producer of his first feature film. ‘Sacred Spirit’ dovetails perfectly with La Fabrica Nocturna’s cinema which has  as a strong auteur-driven, international editorial: We strongly believe in the film’s potential to reach a wide audience,” Marina Perales told Variety.

“Sacred Spirit” has also recently participated at Greece’s Oxbelly Screenwriter’s Lab, founded by Faliro House Productions.

The project has secured Spanish distribution via La Aventura Audiovisual, the distributors of Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper.”

News of the co-production comes as the ECAM’s Incubator has just closed partnership agreements with San Sebastian International Film Festival and Paris networking event Small is Biútiful. These add to other deals with TorinoFilmLab, Rotterdam Lab (IFFR), and EAVE, the Europe-Latin America film development and networking workshop backed by the E.U. Media program.

Via Meet Them!, an initiative of the San Sebastian Film Festival, the producers and directors of the projects from The Incubator’s first and second editions will be granted access to San Sebastian industry events such as the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum, Films in Progress and Glocal in Progress.

Incubator projects will also contend for selection at the next two editions of June’s Small is Biútiful, run by Espagnolas en Paris and a consolidated launch-pad for Spanish filmmakers seeking French distribution, co-production and sales agents.

Part of ECAM’s The Screen, a program launched to promote the creation of new feature films and as a link between ECAM and Europe’s audiovisual industry— the Incubator’s second edition has focused on four more projects apart from “Sacred Spirit”: “Five Little Wolves,” “Ane,” “Killing Crabs” and “La mala familia.”

Directed by Alauda Ruiz de Azúa and produced by Manuel Calvo at Encanta Films, “Five Little Wolves” centers on Paula, who, overwhelmed by motherhood, seeks refuge with her parents. Calvo praised the Incubator as a “development accelerator”: “A development process of one year or more can be reduced to four months.”

“Ane” marks the debut of David Pérez Sañudo, and is produced by Katixa de Silva at Vitoria-based Amania Films. In it, following the social unrest sparked by the arrest of two people at a youth center, accused of belonging to Basque teroirist org ETA, a woman discovers that her teenage daughter hasn’t come home to sleep.Basque pubcaster ETB has confirmed its support for this project, Pérez Sañudo told Variety.

Produced by Manuel Arango at Madrid-based Tourmalet Films (Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “Stockholm”) Omar Razzak’s debut feature “Killing Crabs” turns on the elderly inhabitants of cave-houses in Canary Islands, who will soon be evicted after their dwellings are declared unfit for human habitation.A project that begun with a documentary spirit has now evolved into a coming-of-age, autobiographical fiction, Arango said.

“La mala familia” (The Bad Family) is produced byJavi Tasio at BRBR and Garlic & Japónica Films and to be directed by Nacho A. Villar and Luis Rojo. The film follows Andrés, Natanael and Johansson who are heading to jail for a crime committed four years ago. The producers have initiated co-production talks.

The Incubator program has included presentation of the projects to Amazon Prime Video, TVE, Movistar +, Telemadrid, Atresmedia Cine and Netflix.

“Last year, saw a strong presence of genre projects, this a large number of drama and personal stories.

“What’s really important for us is that adding together both editions we’ve received around 400 projects, roughly distributed half and half [between this year and last], so we are maintaining a high interest,” Gemma Vidal, program manager at The Incubator, told Variety.

In another expansive move, ECAM ha launched a summer audiovisual literacy campaign targeting 8 to 17-year-olds.

“We’re going through a deep transformation process. Where are we heading in industrial terms? And where are new generations heading? Both will condition each other. Audiovisual literacy is the key,” said ECAM director Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson said. ECAM is also providing audiovisual training for educators in Spain.

Selected Incubator projects received €10,000 ($11,300 )for development, as well as— crucially— assistance and guidance from prestigious Spanish filmmakers and industry experts such as: Paco Plaza (“[REC]”); Marisa Fernández Armenteros, a producer at Mediapro; Borja Cobeaga (“Spanish Affair”); Nahikari Ipiña, Nacho Vigalondo’s creative partner and producer at Sayaka; director-producer Ibon Cormenzana (“The Tottenwackers”) at Barcelona’s Arcadia Motion Pictures; and cinema teacher and short filmmaker Natalia Marín Sancho (“New Madrid”). Projects are monitored from late February through June.

The team of tutors also includes scriptwriters Valentina Viso (Mar Coll’s “Three Days with the Family”) and Diego San José (“Spanish Affair”), producers Koldo Zuazua at Kowalski Films (Jon Garaño’s “Handia”), Felipe Lage at Zeitun Films (Oliver Laxe’s “Mimosas”) and Susana Herreras (TV show “Crematorium”), and directors Mar Coll (“Three Days with the Family”), Luis López Carrasco (“El futuro”) and Alberto Rodríguez (“Marshland”).

Open to feature films , including animation, live-action, documentaries, The Incubator targets emerging Spanish producers. To be eligible for participation a project’s director must have been confirmed, the project must be their first, second or third feature; and a version of the screenplay version needs to be attached to the project which must have initiated development. Another key criteria for eligibility is the promotion of diversity and female leadership in both production and direction.

The 2019 ECAM Incubator sessions ran from February through late June.