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MADRID — Filming has begun in Spain on “Competencia Oficial” (“Official Competition”) starring Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas’ and Oscar Martínez, and one of the biggest Spanish-language features to go into production this year.

Argentina’s Martínez, though less well known abroad, is one of the grand talents of Latin American cinema and theater, winning a best actor Coppa Volpi Award at Venice in 2016 for “The Distinguished Citizen.”

Sold by Protagonist Pictures, and part of a new push by The Mediapro Studio into movie production, “Official Competition” also suggests one approach to movie production at a time when the independent sector is increasingly challenged by dwindling returns in theatrical: Scale up, playing off revenues from high-end drama series production and take on board homegrown Hollywood talent to become part of a privileged top-echelon of titles which can sell, and strongly, in theatrical or cut a choice moneyed deal with a platform.

Written and directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat (“The Distinguished Citizen,” “The Man Next Door”), two of Argentina’s most popular crossover auteurs and social ironists, “Official Competition” sees a billionaire pay renowned filmmaker Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz) to make a surefire hit by recruiting the biggest stars from the Spanish-language world: Hollywood heartthrob Félix Rivero (Antonio Banderas) and radical theatre actor Iván Torres (Oscar Martínez).

Trouble is, both are legends, but, the synopsis says, not exactly friends, “two actors with massive talent but even bigger egos” set on a collision course by Lola who grapple with not only preparations for the shoot but their own perceived legacies.  “Who will be left when the cameras finally start rolling? the synopsis asks.

Regular collaborator Andrés Duprat co-wrote the screenplay. The Mediapro Studio has also unveiled key craft talent, represented by top-notch Spain-based technicians, with Josep Amorós, a production manager on TMS’ “Side Games,” as head pf production. Arnau Valls (“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”) serves as DP, Alain Bainée (“Mindscape”) heads up production design, and Alberto del Campo (“The Realm”) oversees editing.

Opening in March 2019 with 34 series in production, including projects with HBO, Canal Plus and Sky Italia, Disney, DirecTV Latin America, Viacom Intl. Studios, Turner Latin America, Vice and Amazon Prime Video, The Mediapro Studio is co-producing Woody Allen’s “Rifkin’s Festival,” co-starring Gina Gershon and Cristoph Waltz. It bowed Mariano Cohn’s solo feature “4 x 4” at Sitges last October.

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Manolo Pavon