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New Gen Talent, Animation, IPs Set to Power Up Malaga’s Spanish Screenings Content

Firefly Glades
Courtesy of White Leaf Producciones

Already part of the biggest national film-TV industry platform in Spain’s history, Malaga Festival’s massive Spanish Screenings Content are set to build yet further in 2023, homing in on potential growth axes in Spain’s film and TV sectors at large.

Part of the Malaga’s Festival’s Mafiz industry area, the Spanish Screenings Content run March 13-16, a week earlier than this year. First details were presented at a panel at Ventana Sur on Dec. 1, which also served to unveil the 22 titles of the 2023 Malaga Festival Fund & Co-Production Event (MAFF), a Málaga industry centrepiece. 

In one new Spanish Screenings Content growth play, animation will get its own full program, playing out throughout the screenings, said Teresa Martín, head of Spanish export board ICEX’s audiovisual department. “We must take advantage of [Spanish] animation’s dynamism. There’s an opportunity in financing and distribution terms,” she added at the Ventana Sur presentation.

The Spanish Screenings Content will also create a Málaga Short Film Corner, highlighting “talent which is just beginning, with or without companies. We are dedicated to giving our companies larger international reach. We must do the same with our talent. The sector is avid to find new talent,” Martín explained.  

In terms of international markets, the Screenings will also focus on Asia, inviting key distributors and media from South Korea, Japan and Singapore to Málaga. They will also look to create an interface with Spain’s video games and VR sectors, continuing a Ventana Sur initiative which saw some of Spain’s top video game companies take part in VS’ burgeoning Maquinitas forum. “Contents are not just cinema but shorts and other media,” Martín argued. 

Spanish Screenings: Tito Rodriguez, Teresa Martín, Juan Antonio Vigar Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

Already an important part of the Malaga FilmFestival, drama series will receive their own specific showcase, also featuring Spanish titles unveiled at Ventana Sur’s SoloSerieS. 

Music Scorecom, Remake Day and Book Showcase will also grow, Juan Antonio Vigar, Malaga Festival director, also said at the Ventana Sur presentation, outlining activities such as a literary adaptation pitching session and case study and, in line with Ventana Sur’s Spanish Screenings on Tour, remake networking, work breakfasts and case studies. 

Part of Ventana Sur’s Punto Género, the Spanish Screenings on Tour already framed five movie projects from women directors in a Perspectives section. This will now build at Malaga. “A primordial aspect for MAFF [Malaga’s Latin America-Spain co-production meeting] – and the Spanish Screenings is parity,” Vigar affirmed. 

Supported by Spain’s Recovery and Resilience Plan, backed by massive E.U. funding, the four-pronged Spanish Screenings take in the Málaga Festival’s Content edition, San Sebastian’s Spanish Screenings: Financing & Tech in September, individual initiatives grouped under Spanish Screenings 360 and Spanish Screenings Tour, which energised this year’s Ventana Sur. 

The site of 2023’s On Tour rollout will be confirmed at a later date, Tito Rodríguez, director of marketing at Spanish film agency ICAA, said at the Ventana Sur unveil. 

2023 Malaga MAFF Titles: Highlights, Trends 

At the 2023 Malaga Festival Fund & Co-Production Event (MAFF), a new movie project from the company behind “Blanquita,”Chile’s Oscar entry, will sit beside further titles from producers of milestone Peruvian TV series “My Lucky Day,” Mexican Venice player “Tragic Jungle” and San Sebastian Golden Shell winner “Bad Hair.” 

Four Spanish directors – Nagore Eceiza, Manolo Munguía and Ana Ortiz and Arima León – also feature in the selection and figure, with “Emilio Manescau: El Legado,”  as the first specific details of Malaga’s Spanish Screenings Content, a continuation of the supersized presence of movies and series from Spain seen at 2022’s Malaga Festival and Ventana Sur.

Courtesy of Conteo Regresivo Films

MAFF is now firmly established as one of the world’s most significant first half movie project forums for titles from Latin America and Spain, and, given its focus on first and second features, a significant new talent platform: 16 of the 22 movies are (sometimes solo) first features. 

Packing this year’s selection are awaited debuts or sophomore outings – Chilean Diego Cespedes’ “The Summer of the Electric Lion” won first prize at Cannes 2018 Cinéfondation film school short competition; Honduran Aeden O’Connor Agurcia’s “90 Minutes,” an Outsider  Pictures U.S. pick-up, took the Audience Award at the 2020 Miami Festival; Eceiza’s “If You Wish to Make an Apple Pie,” her second feature, comes after winning a Silver Biznaga at Málaga for short “Fifty Rupees Only.” Brazil’s Marcela Lordy saw her first feature, “The Book of Delights,” score a U.S. pick up from Film Movement.

As so much of Latin American production, most titles are social-issues projects, plumbing domestic abuse and teen pregnancies (“La Otra Orilla”), bullying (“A Lifetime”) and the impact of climate change (“Borda do Mundo”) and deforestation (“The Jaguar”). 

But filmmakers are coming at such issues from increasingly different angles. Three titles link present and past, two (“Cerro Corá,” “Mal du Siècle”) drawing literal physical links as cineaste attempt to recalibrate a sense of national or contemporary identity.

Multiple titles enrol genre tropes, such as the horror classic of threatening locals in sinister woods tensing Spanish psychological survival thriller “Firefly Glades,” a buzz title at this year’s lineup. 

Manolo Munguía’s “In Another World” is out-and-out sci-fi, following up his appreciable – and dead-scary – “”h0us3.” “This is a story about real astronomy findings, including the recent discovery of the black hole in the Milky Way,” Munguía told Variety.

MAFF’s 22 Titles for 2023: 

4eber,” (Ximena Valdivia, Montaña Rosa Films, Peru, Mexico)
Brought to this year’s Locarno Open Doors by producer Illari Orccotoma, a portrait of new dance movements connecting to ancient Indigenous culture. Film’s first draft is being co-written with Costa Rica’s Luisa Mora Fernández, a co-scribe on Mexican Kim Torres’ Cannes Festival selected short “Luz Nocturna.”

“Aline,” (Marcela Lordy, Klaxon, Sudaca Films, Brazil, Peru)

A high-profile title at MAFF, directed by Marcela Lordy, whose debut “The Book of Delights,” a woman’s tale of sexual maturity, was a Film Movement U.S. pickup for M-Appeal, and produced by BR Lab head Rafael Sampaio and Maríté Ugás and Mariana Rondón, behind “Bad Hair” a San Sebastian’s Golden Shell winner. Here a deaf-born biologist connects – in time profoundly – with her female musician neighbor.

“Brutus,” (Marcelo Toledo, Artefício Filmes, Brazil)

From producer Patrick de Jongh comes director Marcelo Toledo’s “Brutus,” awarded an honorable mention in Frapa, the Screenplay Festival of Porto Alegre. Flaubert Brutus is the lead protagonist – a Haitian immigrant in Brazil, and a boxer by trade who fights in the worst rings in town to pay debts and get his papers back. This drama looks to explore the enduring racism inherent in the immigrant experience of Brazil.

The Jaguar Courtesy of Fuskazul

“Cerro Corá,” (Francisco Márquez, Pensar con las Manos, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay)

As his modern-day peasant community resists eviction by the police and intimidation from soybean firms, land labourer Miliciades finds strength in the ghosts of soldiers from Paraguay’s annihilating War of the Triple Alliance (1864-70) which staged a last-ditch resistance at Cerro Corá. From Márquez, co-director of Cannes Un Certain Regard player “The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis.” 

“Cuerpo Celeste,” (Nayra Ilic, Oro Films, Chile, Italy)

Produced by Chile’s Oro Films (“To Kill the Beast”) and Italy’s  Dispàrte, which caught attention with Maura Delpero’s “Maternal.” Ilic’s second feature after “Square Meter.” A 16-year-old girl cut adrift after the death of her father clings to hope through a new beginning with her mother. In the final phase of financing, says Ilic, after backing from Chilean, Italian and Ibermedia funding.

“If You Wish to Make an Apple Pie,” (Nagore Eceiza, Izar Films, Spain)

The latest from Eceiza, rapidly consolidating as one of the Basque Country’s foremost documentarians, making films around the globe. Echoing Carl Sagan’s famed dictum, Muslim artists Dorine and Hindu partner André create their own universe to live a clandestine love story, until Dorine is forced to return to her conservative family in another state in India. Selected in 2021 for the Basque Country’s prestigious Noka Mentoring development lab. 

“In Another World,” (“En otro mundo,” Manolo Munguía, Spain)

A widowed teacher of astronomy, about to retire, abandons his University activities to search for his daughter whom he’s been unable to get in touch with for weeks. During his trip he stumbles upon a 13 year old girl who confides that she comes from another planet. Munguía’s second feature after “h0us3,” which won him best film at the Speculative Film Fest in Seattle and best director at the Miami Intl. SciFi Film Festival.

“The Jaguar,” (“A Onça,” Emanuel Lavor, Brazil)

Bidô, a farmer’s wife living on Brazil’s Cerrado tropical savannah, battles with her rebellious grandson, the sudden return of lactation, brutal encroachment of the Cerrado by soybean businesses and the presence of a mysterious jaguar.  Produced by Bruno Fatumbi Torres at Brasilia’s Aquarela MidWest, 13th Cine Mundi best feature project winner. An “auteurist allegorical narrative, denouncing the continuous and progressive deforestation suffered in Brazil,” says Lavor.

“A Lifetime,” (“Toda una Vida,” Ariel Gutiérrez, Varios Lobos, Servicios y Productos Culturales, Zoología Fantástica, Mexico)

From México’s reputed Varios Lobos (“Blanquita,” “Tragic Jungle,” “Wind Traces,” “The Darkness”), the coming of age over a long weekend of a teen with obesity problems. 2018 Cannes Cinéfondation competitor Gutiérrez (“Los tiempos de Héctor”) directs. 

“Mal du Siécle,” (Nicolás Suárez, Protón Cine, Argentina)
Suárez directs a loose adaptation of Eugenio Cambaceres’ 1885 novel “Sin rumbo.” Argentina, 1885 and Andrés (35) casts a Byronesque air suffering from “mal du siècle” or ennui. At his Pampa ranch, he ends up getting the daughter of a worker pregnant, leaves for the city but arrives at a 21st century dystopian future city. Produced by Mariana Lucon.

Mal du Siecle Courtesy of Protón Cine

“The Mysterious Gaze of the Flamenco,” (“La Misteriosa Mirada del Flamingo,” Diego Cespedes, Rapante, Chile, France, Mexico, Spain)

The first feature of 2018 Cannes Cinéfondation top winner Diego Céspedes, an LGBTQ-themed drama set in a mining town where a strange illness is said to be transmitted between men who fall in love with each other. A young girl tries to protect her brother, a drag queen and suspected carrier of the disease, from looming violence. Produced by Giancarlo Nasi (“Blanquita”) and France’s Les Valseurs, and now adding extra partners. 

“Sun Falls,” (“Cae el sol,” Aeden O’Connor Agurcia, Pulsar Cine, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Norway)

Pulsar’s Ana Isabel Martins and O’Connor’s join forces again after Miami Audience Award winner “90 Minutes,” on the story of a young filmmaker who dreams of making social-issue movies in his native Honduras but gets embroiled in a local gang. One of the biggest multilateral co-pros at Ventana Sur’s 2022 Proyecta. 

“Surfing for Seniors,” (Ananké Pereira, Funky Films, Chile)

An ensemble piece produced by Funky Films, it follows retirees from Chile and Spain, in their daily life in front of technologies. A painter who looks for guys through Grindr to portray nudes; a tarot reader who tries to take her business to the digital world. A portrait of old age, the relationship with loneliness and exclusion, and the unabated urge to feel connected.

Nagore Eceiza, Manolo Munguia and Arima de Leon Courtesy of IZAR Films / Manolo Munguia / Arima de Leon

Social MAFF

“Mothers of October,” (Cristián Lagos, Chile, France)

From Chile’s Naira Films (“Vieja, Viejo”) and Cuello Negro Films and Bordeaux’s Bússola Films (“Hashtag Santiago”), Lagos’s first feature, a doc following three women suffering tragic loss during Chile’s Estallido. Presented at Chile’s Antofalab, Dok Leipzig 2021 and DocMontevideo co-production market.

MAFF Women Screen Industry

“Aida,” (Alejandra Gómez Pinilla, Conteo Regresivo Films, Peru)

The life of Aida, 60, in the Andes, is turned upside-down when she is asked to travel to identify her dead son’s body. Shot against emblematic coastal, mountain and jungle vistas, the story of what a mother is capable doing for her son, says producer Jorge Constantino, head of production and development at Peruvian powerhouse Tondero.  

“Emilio Manescau: El Legado,” (Constanza Manescau, Spain)

A doc-feature tribute to the Spanish sculptor by his grand-daughter chronicling his work in Melilla and a modern-day attempt to finish Manescau most celebrated work, the 60-foot high giant statue of San Salvador at the entry to the port of Argentina’s Mar del Plata, which the sculptor ended up funding from his own pocket and fishermen’s donations. Produced by Kike Mesa at Málaga’s Kandale Films. 

“Firefly Glades,” (“El claro de las luciérnagas,” Ana Ortiz, Spain).

Ortiz’s first feature, a psychological thriller as a school teacher and her wee wards get lost in the woods but are offered help by a hunter who, as the hours go by, seems to be leading them ever more into danger. “A staging worthy of the best horror stories and a tension that will keep us hooked until the end,” says Sergy Moreno, at White Leaf, behind “Josefina,” one of Spain’s standout 2020 debuts.

“Perhaps,” (“Tal Vez,” Arima León, Naif Films, Amissus Producciones, Spain)

The perhaps requited love of Canary Islands poet Natalia Sosa Ayala for trapeze artist Pinito del Oro, star of New York’s Ringling Brothers circus in the 1960s, set in 1968 when Natalia falls head over heels for Pinito, and in the mid-1990s when she publishes her love letters. A project rich in resonance which won the Pitch Canary Island Film – Isla Mecas winner and proved a standout at Ventana Sur’s Spanish Screenings on Tour. Tania Santana (“Hierro”), Xavier Lafitte (“Yves Saint Laurent,”) and Marta Viera (“Me llamo Suleimán”) star.

From Partner Pacts:

Audiovisual Directorate, Ministry of Culture, Peru

“La Otra Orilla – Belén,” (Francesca Canepa, Split Films, Perú)

The first feature from Campos whose Amazon-set short “El Silencio del Rio” played 2020 Berlin. Belén is a 12 year old girl with a 9-month-old son – who is also her brother – living in the floating community of Belén in the Peruvian Amazon. Invited to a Quinceañero party by a boy, the draw of greater freedom and a sense of belonging clash against her predicament of already being a mother. From “My Lucky Day” producer and “Song Without a Name” associate producer Enid Campos.

La Otra orilla Courtesy of Split Films

Cinemundi

“Borda do Mundo,” (Jô Serfaty, Brazil) 

Three interlinking women’s stories, all set in Atafona, north of Rio de Janeiro, which is being swallowed by the sea. A first fiction feature from Serfaty which scooped Globo Films and Vitrine prizes at Brazil’s BRLab, it follows on 2019 doc debut “Um filme de verão,” a best film winner at 2020’s L’Alternativa Barcelona.

Bolivia Lab

“Moxos,” (Marilina Calós, Argentina)

A doc-feature portrait of the remarkable Higher Institute of Baroque Music and its Moxos ensemble, one of the main ambassadors of multiethnic Bolivia, whose name speaks of  ancient Indigenous musicians’ admiration centuries back for Jesuit music scores. Produced by Senderos Films in Jujuy, North-West Argentina.  

Sanfic Industria

“Kicks of Soil” (“Pies de Tierra,” Leyzer Chiquin, Cuenca Studios, Guatemala)

An emerging talent from Guatemala, Indigenous director Leyzer Chiquin, whose short “The Girl and the Harp” participated in the NY Americas film fest, trains his camera on Argelia, a young Mayan girl from Guatemala who lives with her sickly mother and alcoholic father. She finds meaning and an escape from reality when she discovers taekwondo. Featured at August’s Sanfic Lab Fiction showcase. 

Directors Francisco Marquez, Emanuel Lavor & Francisca Canepa Courtesy of Pensar con las Manos / Aquarela Midwest / Francisca Canepa