Movistar Plus, the pay TV/VOD operator of Spanish telco Telefonica, and the San Sebastian Festival, the biggest film event in the Spanish-speaking world, are bowing a multi-year alliance to simulcast select titles bowing at the festival in a Movistar Plus virtual screening room.

Imitating the limited access of a festival, the Zinemaldia Movistar Plus Virtual Cinema will only screen films on the days that they play at San Sebastian. Movistar Plus subscribers will be able to purchase tickets on a VOD basis at a San Sebastian Festival Virtual Screening Room on the platform.

Titles will include not only movies to which Movistar Plus has purchased pay TV rights for Spain, but also third-party titles, Cristina Burzako, Movistar Plus CEO, said Wednesday at a presentation of novel exhibition system in Madrid.

Films to which clients will be able to purchase virtual fest tickets include some of the strongest toitles screening at San Sebastian this year, such as Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s Berlinale Grand Jury Prize “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy,” Celine Sciamma’s Berlin Competition standout “Petite Maman” and Kirill Serebrennikov’s Cannes Comoetition player “Petrov’s Flu.”

“Just as a spectator can go to a cinema in San Sebastian, here any spectator in Spain or Andorra will have the opportunity to enjoy the cinema experience, paying the same price as if they would to go to the cinema in San Sebastian. This is a virtual cinema, with a limited number of spectators,” said José Luis Rebordinos, who noted that films will then go on to open in theaters or screen on platforms such as Movistar Plus.

Spanish-languge titles take in Andreas Fontana’s “Azor,”a noirish look at the collusion between Swiss banks and Argentina’s bloody Junta dicatorship, and “The Employer and the Employee,” Manuel Nieto’s acid taste on the class gulf in a fast-disappearing traditional rural world in Uruguay.

In all, 19 first run titles has signed up to date for the Virtual Screening Room. They will be drawn from Latin American showcase Horizontes Latinos, Perlak – a best of fests section, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera, Zinemira, the fest’s Basque cinema strand, and Made in Spain.

The exhibition alliance was billed on Thursday by its two partners as the first time a TV platform hosts a cinema for a major “A”-category festival with a selection of titles from five sections.

Movistar Plus will also make available a selection of past festival titles to accompany this year’s premieres. At the same time, it will also set up a studio at San Sebastian’s Victoria Eugenia theater to broadcast live from the festival and strip coverage of the event in its late night shows “La Resistencia” and “Leitmotif.”

Telefonica’s pay TV unit already figures as one of San Sebastian’s two media partners, with Spanish pubcaster RTVE. Since it began to release its own original series in September 2017, it has world premiered its biggest fall plays at San Sebastian, beginning in 2017 with high-end historical epic “The Plague” and back comedy “Spanish Shame.”

The media partnership with the San Sebastian Festival was largely for promotion purposes, however. Online access to festival titles will further Movistar Plus’ positioning as a platform for the best which Spanish culture has to offer and a central part of the country’s cultural conversation.
“This is a natural alliance. Movistar Plus series have brought some of the best cinema in recent years to San Sebastian. Movistar Plus is part of our history,” said Rebordinos.

“San Sebastian Festival and Movistar Plus have a long-standing, solid and very close partnership. The key is that we must continue to join forces in building a strong path for the industry, we must make a collective journey, almost from the responsibility of making this industry grow, of lending it value and of leaving a cultural legacy in this country,” said Cristina Burzako, Movistar Plus CEO. She added that “We have the responsibility to join forces in order to continue on this voyage, to keep reinventing ourselves as an industry, but also to try and seduce and enamor other partners.”

This year, Alejandro Amenábar’s adventure thriller – “La Fortuna,” a Movistar Plus-AMC Studios co-production starring Stanley Tucci and Clarke Peters – will world premiere in its entirety in Official Selection at the festival, playing out of competition.

Another Movistar Plus Original series, Iñigo Ruiz’s doc feature “The Legacy of elBulli,” a present-day portrait of Ferràn Adrià, icon of the new Nouvelle Cuisine, has been selected for San Sebastian’s Culinary Zinema section.Movistar Plus will also host a gala screening of an episode from “Raphaelismo,” a four-part doc series portrait of Raphael, Spain’s first crooner, who built up an enormous international fan base from the mid 1960s.

“It’s part of our firm, convinced and growing bet on non-fiction,” Burzako said Thursday.


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Virtual Screening Room Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival