The Spanish film returns to the international radar

In February, Carla Simons went with “Alcarràs”. Spain‘s first Berlin Golden Bear in almost 40 years Spain its largest main competition presence at the Berlinale since 1997.

that maybe Spain has selected four films for Cannes – Albert Serra’s competition entry “Pacifiction”; Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “The Beasts” in premiere; Elena López Riera’s “The Water” film adaptation for directors; and José Luis López Linares’ Goya, Carrière and the Ghost of Buñuel, a Cannes Classics documentary. This corresponds to a presence in Cannes that is roughly comparable to the outstanding years of recent years such as 2018 and 2019.

With the launch of Netflix’s Through My Window in February, three of the streaming giant’s top five most watched non-English language films have come Spain.

Big money is now in television. Meanwhile, Spanish cinema is a favorite of the art house crowds throughout Spain‘s transition to democracy, from 1975 to 1982, is once again on the international radar, though it faces enormous challenges spearheaded by a potentially prolonged slump in cinema admissions.

Several factors play a role. Under Simón’s leadership, a new generation of (often female) filmmakers is making films in Catalonia and beyond that are often deeply rooted in the filmmakers’ immediate reality, breathing authenticity but littered with knowledge of psychological detail.

“A host of new talent explores a different form of filmmaking and is extremely creative and very touching,” says Antonio Saura, head of Latido Films, citing “Alcarrás” and the Latido-sold “Lullaby” by Alauda Ruiz de Azuá, a fine one Observation of mother-daughter relationship drama on the Basque coast.

Other countries want to do business Spain, also. Directed by López Riera from Valencia, The Water, a critique of rural gender violence that mixes local village details and fantasy, was produced by Suicafilms from Valencia, Alina Film from Switzerland and Les Films du Worso from France.

“There are many female directors Spain, some gifted. There’s a sense of movement – ​​maybe that’s too strong a word – but it can be used to position a film,” says Luis Renart of Bendita Films, who have taken on emerging Catalan director Nely Reguera’s The Volunteer. a hit from Málaga Spanish Screenings in March.

Parallel to this, another generation—that broke through a decade or more before Simón—drives on Spain‘s reputation for smart thrillers that can snag major festival spots by blending genres with social allegory (“The Platform”), offering violent criticism (“May God Save Us,” “The Beasts,” “Manticora”), or the confrontation with the obstacles to historical change (“Prison 1977”) or the stubbornness of human nature (“From The Shadows”).

Thrillers can certainly sell to platforms, notes Saura. This potential market, along with the gender and LGBT issues raised by the films, may explain buyers’ interest in Malaga Festival’s Spanish screenings of Latido’s ‘Unfinished Business’, a Cadiz-set crime drama and vision of male violence, and Filmax’s ‘Can ‘t Live Without You”, an erotically charged triangle thriller.

The top title of the new Spanish distribution company Wild Duck Productions is “Last Wills” with Fernando Tejero (“No Hay Quien Viva”). The film is a father-son reconciliation drama with an action-thriller drive, said sales manager Liliana Bravo.

Surviving theatrical distributors currently “only buy very commercial titles. They need cash flow,” confirms Geraldine Gonard, Co-CEO of Feel Content.

Platforms these days are looking for quality drama thrillers with substance and quality teen and youth films, she adds.

“Retailers are buying more and more commercial titles,” said Vicente Canales, founder of Film Factory Entertainment. “Arthouse buyers are becoming more and more selective.”

Meanwhile, VOD is opening up new possibilities.

“One of our strongest films this year is Cesc Gay’s ‘Stories Not to Be Told’,” notes Ivan Díaz, head of Filmax International. “Years ago when we were selling a Cesc gay movie we thought it would be released in every territory. This situation persists in some areas, for example in Europe. But in other parts of the world we could definitely choose a platform.”

In Europe, the core market for Spanish films, the number of SVOD services almost doubled between late 2020 and late 2021, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimates.

“Thanks to a new platform scene, some markets are now coming back to the table,” notes Díaz, citing Italy. “New [Italian] VOD players have popped up, meaning buyers have greater opportunities to sell on TV, making them more confident when buying.”

Distributors sell to platforms by territory or region.

“If you accumulate less money per sale, what you previously sold can still add up in the end. The difference is that it used to take me six months to sell a film, now it’s almost two years,” says Gloria Bretones of Begin Again Films, which mainly sells Spanish Art Pic Fest favourites.

The big question, and not only for Spainis the recovery of the cinema market.

In the first quarter of 2022, the UK box office underperformed by 19% and underperformed even more compared to the same period in 2019 Spain (-36%), France (-38%), Germany (-50%) and Italy (-61%) according to the Marché du Film Focus 2022 report just published in Cannes.

“The sale of the platform cannot compensate for the loss of the cinema business,” says Geraldine Gonard, CEO of Feel Content. “A theatrical sale increases the value of a title. For example, if you sign a theatrical contract in France, a film will be classified as a feature film; if not, it’s a TV movie.”

“Cannes will be the first major in-person market to bear resemblance to pre-pandemic meetings,” Canales says. “It will at least shed some light on the residual strength of the theatrical. International business isn’t just selling to platforms,” ​​he says.

https://variety.com/2022/film/features/spain-film-cannes-alcarras-1235271497/ The Spanish film returns to the international radar

Charles Jones

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