Alex de la Iglesia directing 'grotesque tragedy'

'Balada Triste de Trompeta' will shoot early next year

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Spanish cult director Alex de la Iglesia will direct "Balada Triste de Trompeta," a tragic comedy co-produced by Spain's Tornosol and France's La Fabrique du Film.

The €8 million ($11.2 million), Spanish-language "grotesque tragedy" -- as De la Iglesia described it -- centers on two clowns in love with the same trapeze artist at a Spanish circus.

Set to shoot in Madrid and Alicante's Ciudad de la Luz studio in January, the film follows De la Iglesia's 2008 "The Oxford Murders," also produced by Tornosol and Fabrique du Film. The English-language "Murders" starred Elijah Wood and was Spain's highest-grossing homegrown hit at the domestic boxoffice last year with €8.2 million ($12 million).

Unlike "Murders," "Trompeta" is based on a De la Iglesia script, which promises the unique style and dark humor of the director-writer of such hits as "Day of the Beast," "The Commonwealth" and "Ferpect Crime."

Antonio de la Torre and Carlos Areces will play the clowns, while Carolina Bang will play their trapeze love interest. Carmen Maura, Juan Jose Galiardo and Enrique Villen round out the cast.

"Trompeta" is one of 29 Spanish films prebought by Spanish pubcaster Television Espanola, TVE's head of film Gustavo Ferrada said Thursday.

Among the films TVE has acquired are Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful," starring Javier Bardem, Fernando Leon's "Amador" and Mateo Gil's second feature, "Black Thorn," scheduled to shoot in the first half of 2010.

The announcement came at a joint news conference held by TVE and the Spanish producers' federation FAPAE in San Sebastian in the framework of the festival.

TVE director Javier Pons said the pubcaster's second channel would "in essence become a thematic channel dedicated to Spanish-language movie" by programming a film in Spanish every week night during primetime.

FAPAE president Pedro Perez praised TVE's dedication to Spanish cinema, noting that 96% of the Spanish films aired on television screen on the pubcaster -- with seven of them snagging more than 2 million viewers.

"TVE is unquestionably the main support for Spanish cinema," Perez said.

Perez said Spanish film exports tumbled nearly 30% last year to $57.7 million, while TV sales grew 4.4% to $52.3 million. Exports to the U.S., Latin America and Asia combined accounted for less than 24% of all exports, making Europe the biggest consumer of Spanish cinema.

Perez said local films drew 10.8% of the moviegoing public, compared with 14.3% at the same point last year, but expected numbers to perk up by the end of the year.