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“Alcarràs,” from Catalonia’s Carla Simón, won Berlin’s top Golden Bear in February. “One Year, One Night,” from Catalan Isaki Lacuesta, also played in main competition. This May “Pacifiction,” from Albert Serra, another Catalan, has scored a competition berth at Cannes.

Thanks to these three titles, Catalonia has more directors this year in the key section at Europe’s two biggest festivals than Italy (2), Germany (1) or the U.K. (none at all). Other Catalan productions to play at Cannes: Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Beasts” in Premiere and Anna Fernández’s “I Didn’t Make It to Love Her,” a Critics’ Week short.

If big fest selection is any measure, with just 7.6 million inhabitants and Barcelona as its capital, Catalonia is building as an upscale European movie powerhouse.

The build, however, is far broader based. In the pipeline, all from Barcelona-based Nostromo Pictures, are major Netflix titles such as David and Álex Pastor’s Spanish-language spinoff of Netflix hit “Bird Box” and two sequels to Marçal Forés “Through Your Window,” Netflix’s third most-watched non-English language film on record, as well as “Losrenglones torcidos de Dios,” from Oriol Paulo, whose 2017 crime thriller” Invisible Guest” earned $26 million in China.

Also advancing towards release are a clutch of auteur titles such as Mikel Gurrea’s rural drama “Suro,” Simón’s third feature “Romería,” Avelina Prat’s “Vasil,” “La Maternal,” from best picture Goya winner Pilar Palomero (“Schoolgirls”) and Marc Recha’s “Wild Road.”

Meanwhile, mid-sized companies are quickly powering up their slates. Fasten’s backing Nely Reguera’s “The Volunteer,” Coming Soon’s Elena Trapé’s “Els encantats” and Mr. Miyagi’s Ángeles Hernández pic “The Lighthouse.” Lastor is behind Mikel Gurrea’s “Suro” and Inicia Enric Ribes’ “Singing on the Rooftops.” Lastor alone has three shoots this summer.

“It’s a sweet moment,” says director and Catalan Academy president Judith Colell, underscoring that “many small companies are now readying a lot of projects.”

Why Catalonia is building as a production power is another matter.

One key, as ever, is government support. Catalan state film agency ICEC will allot this year more than €28 million ($29.5 million) in general cinema aid. That figure contrasts with $13.1 million in 2019. “The role of the ICEC is to continue supporting the whole sector and especially independent producers,” says ICEC director Miquel Curanta.

At Lastor, which co-produced “Alcarrás,” producer Toni Folguera praises Spain’s central film agency, the ICAA, for raising the cap on public coin from 50% to 80% of a film’s budget for titles in a co-official language in Spain, such as Catalan. “This allows us to make movies budgeted up to almost $3 million, instead of half of that,” Folguera says.

Strategy also counts. For Cuarenta, “companies are increasingly aware that, in order to be competitive, they must work with a portfolio of projects, covering different market segments and targeting multiple distribution outlets. They also need bigger budgeted and more ambitious projects.”

Europe is embracing Catalonia, mostly its new generation of often women filmmakers making movies grounded in local realities but which talk of larger themes. French sales agents handle “Alcarràs” (MK2) and “La Maternal” (Elle Driver). Further abroad, “Pacifiction” is being sold by Germany’s Films Boutique, David Pujol’s “Waiting for Dalí” by the U.K.’s Embankment.

Catalonia is embracing Europe, and launched a fund for minority productions in 2020. With the big money now in TV, ICEC is about to announce a new funding line for Catalan-language TV series. Funding runs up to $1.6 million per project, targeting a select number of shows, says Cuarenta.

The move will encourage companies and talent to mix film and TV production. “Audiovisual production is one of the Catalan government’s priorities this term of office,” says Cuarenta.

Encouraged by the huge demand for content, plans are afoot for a Catalunya Media City production hub. “I believe there’s a real paradigm change,” says Lastor’s Folguera.

John Hopewell contributed to this report.