FAPAE chief: Producers, auds out of sync

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SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Spain's filmmakers are not giving local audiences what they want. That was the word Monday from Pedro Perez, president of Spanish producers federation FAPAE, who blamed a variety of factors including rampant pirating.

"There's no doubt that producers are not in sync with Spanish audiences. It's partly our fault and partly that of environmental factors," Perez said during his annual state of the industry address at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Pointing to figures that show Spanish title's share of the local boxoffice at only 7.4%, compared with 8.7% for the same period last year, Perez said he hopes that a cluster of films scheduled for release in the second half will bolster the numbers.

"But even so, I'd be lying if I said we are satisfied how things are going. At this time there are very serious dangers for Spanish cinema," Perez told a group of Spanish industry executives.

Taking aim at illegal downloading, Perez said that Internet piracy has played a significant role in the poor boxoffice performance.

While 2006 cinema attendance was down 17% and DVD sales dropped 6%, Spain is at the front of the European pack when it comes to illegal downloading.

"We're the No. 1 country in the ranking of pirating in terms of percentages in the world. That's not a medal that anyone wants to have," he said.

Perez also targeted phone operators that hawk their broadband connections by offering illegal content. "They use illegal material for marketing their megas. They need to know that if there are no returns on investment, there will be no films," he said.

He also expressed frustration at the latest delay in the legislative process to pass Spain's much-debated film law, which would increase the tax incentives for producers and private capital while redefining the role of producers entitled to access state subsides to exclude broadcasters and U.S. majors.

The Spanish parliament extended the period to present amendments to the bill by an additional week rather than closing it Tuesday as originally planned, a move widely interpreted as catering to minority regional groups.

Despite these factors, Perez said Spain's producers need to reflect on the kinds of movies they are making.

"Our first objective is to recover our rhythm with audiences," he said. "To do that, we need to be critical with ourselves. There are too many films released to have a competitive run in theaters."
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