Sales agents praise Madrid screenings

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MADRID -- As the Madrid de Cine Spanish film screenings wrapped Wednesday, buyers and sellers alike seemed in agreement on the event's value for the industry.

"It's great," said Marina Fuentes of Madrid-based 6 Sales. "The quantity and quality of the buyers were excellent."

More than 130 buyers from 35 countries attended, more than the attendance last year and 70% better than the number of those who came to the defunct Lanzarote Screenings, which the Madrid event replaced.

No one seemed bothered by the timing of the event, which followed so close after Cannes.

"There are so many markets, but here the buyers can focus on Spanish films calmly and don't have to rush off after two minutes," said Xavi Figueras of Sagrera, which is handling worldwide sales on Carlos Benpar's documentary "Filmmakers in Action."

Such films as Lucia Puenzo's "XXY," Sergio Oksman's "Goodbye, America" and Roberto Santiago's black comedy "The Suicide Club" were available at Cannes but seemed to get more attention -- and a buzz among buyers -- in Madrid.

"It not only gives buyers an opportunity to see films that might have gotten lost in the mix in Cannes but also affords us the chance to deepen existing relationships with buyers in a relaxed setting," Sogepaq sales chief Sophie MacMahon said.

MacMahon closed two deals at the screenings, with ABC Distribution picking up Benelux rights on David and Tristan Ulloa's "Pudor" and Irfan Film taking a package that included "Pudor," Alvaro Begines' "Scandalous!" and Santi Amadeo's "Doghead" for Turkey.

Miami-based Venevision closed U.S. DVD, video-on-demand and pay TV rights on "Loco Fighters," sold by Notro, as well as Cesar Martinez's social drama "Arena en los bolsillos" and Jorge Nebra's feature debut "Habanece," the latter pair licensed from Bulbeck & Mas.

KWA's sleeper hit "La Caja" sold to Serbia's MCF Megacom Film, with a number of other territories expected to close in the coming weeks.

LAPTV took pan-regional Latin American pay TV rights on "La Caja" as well as "The Gronholm Method," "Viva Cuba" and "Los Aires Dificiles."

"Madrid is a bustling city, and that influences how you receive the films," said Daniel Otto, senior manager acquisitions for PPV and VOD at Germany's Premiere. "Madrid de Cine is a useful tool for getting a look at projects in the early stages. It helps us to know if we'll be interested and if we can back up a German distributor early in the game."

The screenings are hosted by producers' association FAPAE, which organized a series of roundtables, including one on Spain's new film law, which got a green light from the government to start parliamentary debate this month.

Attendees said they were already noticing the law's influence in their dealings. "I'm finding that foreign investors are increasingly interested in co-productions given the new law," Filmax's Antonio Nava said.

The plan will raise tax breaks for Spanish film production to 18% of investment for purely financial investors.
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