Spain screenings gaining steam

Sales event's sophomore session set for attendance bump

Spanish cinema's top brass convened with Madrid politicos Monday to demonstrate the broad industry support for the second Madrid de Cine Spanish Film Screenings.

More than 130 buyers from 35 countries are confirmed to attend the June 10-12 event, a jump from last year's attendance and 70% greater than that for the now-defunct Lanzarote Screenings, which the Madrid confab replaced.

Buyers will have access to the freshest and most diverse product Spain can offer, with 51 films screening at the Princesa theaters and a videoteca available for other Spanish titles.

"Last year, we were even more successful than we had hoped," said Pedro Perez, president of screenings host organization FAPAE, the federation of Spanish producers. "Madrid now forms part of the international calendar as a must for buyers."

FAPAE organizes the screenings, backed by a €600,000 ($808,974) budget, with institutional and financial support from Spain's Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX), the Madrid regional government, the Madrid municipal government, the Madrid Film Commission and the Audiovisual Producers' Rights Management body (EGEDA) as well as the local Princesa theater chain and movie downloading Web site Filmotech.

"We are seeing an increase in the sale of Spanish cinema and we are satisfied with the Madrid de Cine," ICEX executive vp Angel Martin said. "Last year, there was a 15% rise in sales."

According to Martin, sales revenue grew to €100 million ($134.8 million) from €94 million the year before. Thus, ICEX has upped its commitment to Spanish cinema 30% this year, investing some €3 million ($4 million) in assisting the industry to access foreign markets.

Among the titles that will screen are Carlos Saura's "Fados," Antonio Hernandez's "El Menor de los Males," Tristan and David Ulloa's "Pudor," Fernando Perez's "Madrigal," Hernan Gaffet's "Ciudad en Celo" and Alvaro Diaz Lorenzo's "Cafe solo o con Ellas."

Among those confirmed to attend are Japan's Miyako Sonoki of Chase Film, Eri Kubo of Pony Canyon, Kazutaka Kimori of Hexagon Pictures, Korea's Sinae Kim of Cinema Valley and Jason Chung of Line Tree Entertainment. Representing the U.S. are Dori Begley of Magnolia Pictures, Jose Ramon Ganchegui of Venenvision International, Alexandra Rossi of New Line Cinema, Roberto Buso-Garcia of HBO, Richard Rohrbach of LAPTV and David Bowlds of Strand Releasing.

Also attending are the U.K's Emil Elmer of Pathe Distribution, Eve Schoukroun of ThinkFilm, Eleonore de Prunele of Universal Pictures, Helen Spencer and Bjorn Ricketts of Maiden Voyage Pictures, Andy Whittaker and Anna Godas of Dogwoof and Mark Adams of ICA Films as well as Argentina's Guillermo Avellaneda of Buena Vista International (Latin America) and Martin Iraola of the Walt Disney Studios.

The numbers show a jump to 11 U.K. buyers this year from six in 2006, 12 French buyers from five in '06 and 20 Eastern European buyers from 16 in '06.

"We've focused this year not only on increasing the foreign general press invited to collect material to support the release of Spanish films in their respective countries, but on the quality of the buyers," Perez said. "The people that are coming here have decisionmaking powers in their companies."

Spanish sales agents generally applaud the Madrid initiative.

"Last year's event was very positive," said Max Saidel, president of Madrid-based sales outfit Latido. "A lot of deals were started here. It's a great way to focus our attention and spend more time with buyers interested in Spanish film, and with the capital's central location, it is a natural choice for Spain's big sales event."

In addition to a series of roundtables discussing Madrid's new film law and the benefits of international co-productions, organizers have planned a Tuesday-night party at Madrid's hip Ananda club.

But while Spanish nightlife, food and fun are ingredients organizers are using to attract international executives, Spanish cinema is the key.

"The message is clear. It's not just that we make good movies," Spanish Film Institute chief Fernando Lara said. "It's that we are selling them abroad."
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