Held online over Oct. 20-22, 2021’s Spanish Screenings-Málaga de Cine mark Spain’s biggest national cinema showcase anywhere in the world, its equivalent of UniFrance’s Paris Rendez-vous. 113 recent Spanish titles were made available to 218 carefully-targeted international buyers, distributors and fest heads with a record of screening movies from Spain. Such a spectacular smorgasbord also says much about Spanish production trends and the state of the international market at large. Six takes on this year’s screenings:
A Sign of the Times
Last year, Malaga unveiled 20 market premieres. This year, the number were way down, with screenings dominated by titles brought onto the market as finished films at Cannes, Toronto and San Sebastian. That’s a sign of the times. With a huge international distributor release bottleneck, sales agents used the Spanish Screenings to wring more sales out of the titles they did have, rather than bringing new titles onto a clogged market. Spanish market debuts look limited at the American Film Market as well.
International Alliances’ Market Impact
Of Netflix and Amazon’s 479 original TV show commissions in production or development, Spain is the fourth biggest country of origin, bested by the U.S, U.K. and India, Ampere Analysis estimates. The biggest news announced during the Screenings was the ‘Veneno’ creators’ launch of Suma Content, shedding past exclusive production commitments, and a first-look deal between U.S. streamer Pantaya and the part-Spain-based El Estudio. Both deals have film elements. Framed in such mega moves, the feeding fever for Spanish fiction will inevitably play out over the whole sector, impacting the ability of players to bring titles onto the open market.
A mantra in a new studio streaming world as demand for fiction outweighs top-end writers and directors’ supply. With much of the most exciting work in Spain taking place on low-cost early features, the Spanish Screenings work as a highly attractive new talent showcase. Three titles this year from directors to track: Ezekiel Montes’ “A Dead Man Cannot Live,” a brutal but grounded and superbly played shoot-em-up; Javier Marco’s “Josefina,” a love story between two dowdy characters, energized by its implicit character detail; Alex Montoya’s “Lucas,” a discomfiting drama teasing the grey areas in a teen boy’s friendship with a far older man.
The Malaga Screenings framed some of the biggest and most appreciated of Spanish fall releases, such as Iciar Bollaín’s sober but compelling Basque reconciliation drama “Maixabel,” championed by most all critics at San Sebastian; Benito Zambrano’s heartwarming tale of second chance in life, “Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake”; and Carlos Saura’s “The King of All the World,” an affirmation by the director, knocking 90, of his enduring excitement at the world of dance from behind-the-scenes, and ability to capture still its aesthetic rush.
In deals unveiled during the Screenings, or coinciding with their juncture:
*IFC Films closed North America on Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas starrer “Official Competition.”
*HBO Max and Outsider Pictures’ scooped the U.S. on Henry Rincon’s “City of Wild Beasts.”
*Filmax took international on “Save the Tree,· a tyke-targeting eco-minded toon feature.
*34T Sales swooped on “The Queen of the Lizards,” a winningly batty sci-fi riff on a single mom’s fear of relationship commitment to a Martian.
*Altera announced Spanish distribution rights to “Clara Sola” and “Camila Comes Out Tonight,” two films from burgeoning Latin American women auteurs.
*Sales agent Begin Again Films confirmed that Spain-based SVOD serviced Filmin had acquired “Lucas.”
Yet so many sales agents deals these days are tied up with platforms whose announcement timeframes do not always coincide with markets. So much Screenings newsflow was driven by production unveils, led by new films from Malaga Festival big winners Juan Pablo Felix and Mo Scarpelli.
Looking Towards a Bigger 2022 Malaga Fest & Market
The Screenings are a pure play sales market. They come as TV series co-production is flying. Parallel to that, art film producers around the world seek to take up the slack from a contracting pre-sales market by near fully-financing movies, largely via equity from international partners. As the film industry emerges haltingly from COVID 19, consensus is that the events which really catch fire cover all of a movie’s value chain, most especially project financing, and have a robust TV element as well. Malaga Festival’s MAFIZ industry arm has such range. The Festival’s already announced 2022 dates in its traditional March berth, over March 17-26. If industry activities are all pulled back to that date as well, Malaga could be shaping up for a bumper 2022 edition.