The Biggest Bets at This Year’s Malaga Spanish Screenings

Credit: David Herranz/Film Factory

No event in the world offers a broader spread of recent movies from Spain than the Malaga de Cine – Spanish Screenings. Unspooling online over Oct. 20-22, this year’s lineup offers buyers a chance to catch up with titles at San Sebastian, as well as upcoming releases, 2021 Malaga fest winners and its pix-in-post panorama. At the heart of the event are its Screenings, new or newish titles which in an ordinary onsite year would play in cinema theaters in Malaga. Variety drills down on a score of films playing at this year’s event, including a clutch of notable debuts.

“All the Moons,” (Arcadia Motion Pictures, Kowalski Films, Pris & Batty, Ilargia Films, Noodles Production)

A fantasy vampire period drama, set in 19th century Spain during its Carlist wars. Bullish sales prospects. Sales agency: Filmax

“Ama,” (Julia de Paz Solvas, La Dalia Films)

Paz Solvas’ first feature and a Malaga best actress winner for Tamara Casellas as a single motherhood and raising a child without a permanent home. Sales agency: Filmax

“Amateur,” (Martín Gutiérrez López, Martindecho Films, Welt Film)

The director’s love poem to Echo, his native Pyrenean village, captured through three stories. A best Spanish film winner at 2020’s Malaga Work-in-Progress pix in post competition. Sales agency: Antidote Sales.

“Buñuel: A Surrealist Filmmaker,” (Javier Espada, Tolocha)

The latest doc feature from Espada, a Buñuel expert, on the cornerstone artistic influence on Luis Buñuel, obvious in his debut, “An Andalusian Dog,” still there at the last near 50 years later in his final film, “That Obscure Object of Desire.”

“Brothers-in-Law,” (Toño López, Portocabo)

Set in Galicia in the Spanish Northewest, a comedy turning on three brothers-in-laws’ hair-brained abduction masterplan. Sales agency: Filmax

“Carpoolers,” Martín Cuervo, A Contracorriente films, Neon Films, Alamo Producciones Audiovisuales)

Cuervo’s feature debut: Four strangers share a car-trip which looks pretty normal but the driver is hiding something. Sales agency: Latido Films

“Chavalas,” (Carol Rodríguez, Balance Media, Bin Fang)

Another debut, a story about resilient bonds which remain among a group of childhood friends as they grow up. Sales agency: Filmax

“The Consequences,” (Sin Rodeos, N279 Entertainment, Potemkino, Érase Una Vez)

Writer-director Claudia Pinto Emperador’s follow-up to her 2013 feature debut “The Longest Distance,” a powerful emotional thriller about a troubled mother hiding a terrible family secret. Sales agency: Film Factory

“Controverso,” (Nuria Vargas, Egoa Films)

Mixing Cuban freestyle singers with Spanish oral tradition poetry reciters, a film described as a musical trip through the history of improvised poetry. Vargas’ first feature. Sales agency: Begin Again Films

“Counting Sheep,” (Jose Corral, Aquí y Allí Films, LaNube Peliculas, Wanka Cine)

Produced by the consistently interesting Aquí y Allí Films (“Magical Girl,” “Life and Nothing More”), Corral’s first feature, a YA black comedy set in a shared flat. Sales agency: Filmax

“The Cover,” (Secun de la Rosa, Nadie es Perfecto, Stopline Films)

The feature debut of Spanish actor-turned-director Secun de la Rosa. Dani works as a waiter at Benidorm, instead of pursuing his musical dreams. Then, one summer, he meets Sandra, who changes his mindset. Sales agency: Latido Films

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The Cover Credit: Andre Paduano

“The Daughter,” (Manuel Martín Cuenca, Mod Producciones, La Loma Blanca)

Starring Below Zero’s Javier Gutiérrez, the latest from Toronto, San Sebastián regular Martín Cuenca, a surrogate motherhood suspense thriller set in cold Spanish mountains. From Amenábar’s producer Mod.

“A Dead Man Cannot Live,” (“Hombre muerto no sabe vivir,” Ezekiel Montes, 73140323 Producciones Cinematográficas)

A bloody, brutal Costa del Sol mob shoot-em-up from first-time feature director Montes, with a tearaway perf from the weathered-faced Antonio Decent. Sales agency: Filmax

“The House of Snails,” (Macarena Astorga, Basque Films, Producciones Tinder, Hippo Entertainment Group, Casita, Esto También Pasara SLU, Bowfinger International Pictures)

A thriller, with a writer retiring to a village near Málaga to pen his next novel, where he falls in love with a local woman. But the reality of the villagers’ secrets proves far stranger than fiction. Sales agency: Filmax

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The House of Snails Credit: Dani Medina

“An Island in the Desert,” (Rafael Roble, Rafatal)

A doc portrait of how Spain’s Costa del Sol emerged as a symbol of cosmopolitan modernity under Franco’s authoritarian regime in the 1960s, part of which remains to today.

“Josefina,” (Javier Marco, Whiteleaf Producciones, Featurent)

A subtle debut by Marco and screenwriter, charting the budding love between a prison guard and a frequent jail visitor, carried by two of the greatest Spanish actors of their generation: Roberto Álamo (“Riot Police”) and Emma Suárez (“Julieta”). Sales agency: Feelgood Content

“The Kids Are Alright,” (Santiago Segura, Bowfinger International Pictures, Atresmedia Cine, Buendía Estudios, Movistar Plus)

The latest family comedy from “Torrente” creator-star Segura, Spain’s undisputed box office champion, with a larger international fanbase than is often imagined. Sales agency: Latino

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The Kids Are Alright Credit: Bow finger

“The King of the Whole World,” (Pacha, Pipa Films)

Spanish grand master Carlos Saura, now 89, returns to fiction musical format of “Carmen.” Set in Mexico City, a dazzling mix of splintering fiction realities capturing the aesthetic rush of extraordinary dance rehearsal and Mexican modern classic song. Sales agency: Latido

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The King of the Whole World Courtesy of Latido Films

“Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake,” (Benito Zambrano)

Based on a Spanish best-seller, an uplifting second chance in life drama from Zambrano, a Goya and San Sebastian winner (“The Sleeping Voice”), about two unhappy sisters who forge a new life together at a bakery in Majorca. One of Filmax’s big play at the Screenings. Sales agency: Filmax

“Lucas,” (Alex Montoya, Raw Pictures, Telespan 2000)

A drama-thriller in which a lonely adolescent is befriended by a pedophile. An Audience Award, best film and best actor winner in the Malaga Festival’s Zonacine sidebar. Sales agency: Begin Again Films

“Maixabel,” (Iciar Bollaín, Kowalski Films, Feelgood)

For many critics, Spanish and foreign, one of the best new films at San Sebastian, a sober Basque conflict reconciliation drama recounting the meetings with towering performances from Luis Tosar as a repentant ETA assassin and his victim’s widow. A box office hit in Spain with foreign potential, closing Germany in an early deal. Sales agency: Film Factory.

“Mediterraneo: The Law of the Sea,” (Marcel Barrena, Lastor Media, Fasten Films, Arcadia Motion Pictures, Heretic Productions)

Two Spanish lifeguards head to Lesbos after seeing a photo of a drowned child. A true-fact based origins story of ocean rescue NGO Open Arms which screened to a bullish reception at Rome’s MIA Market. Sales agency: Filmax

“Mighty Flash,” (Ainhoa Rodríguez, Tentación Cabiria, Eddie Saeta)

World premiering in Rotterdam 2021 main competition, and selected for Directors New Films at MoMA and the Lincoln Center, the portrait of a group of women in a lonely village awaiting life-changing experiences. “Laced with touches of suspense, rural surrealism, social realism and Almodovar-style humor,” Variety reported. Sales agency: Patra Spanou

“Polyamory for Dummies,” (Fernando Colomo, Morena Films)

28-year-old overnight internet sensation Manu and young doctor Amanda embark on a polyamorous relationship in defiance of traditional romantic love. A new irony-on-the times comedy from evergreen vet Colomo. Sales agency: Latido

“Once Upon a Time in Euskadi,” (Manu Gómez, La Canica Films)

A mid-80s coming-of-age story set in the then-turbulent Spanish Basque Country from rated production house La Canica (“The Fury of a Patient Man”). Sales agency: Film Factory

“An Optical Illusion,” (Juan Cavestany, Cuidado Con El Perro)

A couple vacations in New York, but nothing feels right as they cycle through the same streets, cafes and sites over and over. The latest from left-field comedy director Cavestany (“Spanish Shame”). Sales agency: Feel Content

“The Replacement,” (Óscar Aibar, Tornasol, Voramar)

A big city cop moves to a small village looking for calm for himself and his daughter but finds instead a murder investigation. Sales agency: Latido

“Save the Tree,” (Iker Alvarez, Haizea Pastor, Baleuko, Polar Studio, Tortuna Studios)

An animated, ecology-minded feature about a pixie, guardian of trees in the Pyrenees.

“Sediments,” (Adrian Silvestre, Adrián Silvestre Films, Testamento)

Silvestre’s latest documentary explores the life stories of five transgender women as they walk through the mountains. Sales agency: The Film Collaborative

“Sinjar,” (Anna M. Bofarull, KaBoGa, Genius at Large)

The latest film from Catalan writer-director Anna M. Bofarull (“Barcelona 1714”), a portrait of rape and sex slavery under ISIS in Sinjar, its shoots being backed by the Yazidi community and Kurdish army. Sales agency: Filmax

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Sinjar Courtesy of Filmax

“Undercover Wedding Crashers,” (Carlos Therón, Telecinco Cinema, La Pepa Films, Lazona Films, Quexito Films)

A high-voltage police-comedy with Sebas, a rookie cop dispatched to infiltrate Los Lolos, a pop group playing at the wedding of a drug kingpin’s daughter. Sales agency: Filmax

“Wetland,” (Iñaki Sánchez Arrieta, Sunrise Pictures)

A biologist arrives in a village to save a natural preserve and faces off against violent locals. A-list cast includes Raúl Arévalo, Paz Vega, Roberto Álamo. Sales agency: Film Factory

“When Brooklyn Met Seville,” (Vicente Villanueva, Capitán Araña, Pecado Films)

A culture clash romantic comedy set in Seville with Ana mom’s taking in Ariel from Brooklyn as a lodger to pay the rent and avoid eviction. Sales agency: Filmax

“The Year Of Fury,” (Gona Filmación, Aliwood Mediterraneo)

Rafa Russo’s second feature, after “Amor en defensa propia.” Set in 1992 Uruguay as two TV comedy writers battle to maintain their integrity under a dictatorship. Sales agency: Filmax