Fest club makes room for Madrid

Spanish capital to host int'l event with art-film focus

Madrid is shaping up to be the next major European capital to host an international film festival, with talks under way for a top-flight event, sources said Monday.

The event is the brainchild of the newly formed arts foundation Cim & Art, which is planning the festival as part of a calendar of arts activities in the city. Officially titled the Cim Madrid International Film Festival, the event is tentatively scheduled to run March 26-April 1.

"Our festival will only screen very high-quality films that will premiere in Madrid," festival director Maria Kannon de Cle said. "We are not just interested in glamour for its own sake, but in the exciting combination that arises from pure cinema with true glamour, fashion and new tendencies in film."

Organizers said the Madrid municipal government, Madrid regional government, producers rights management organization EGEDA, the Madrid Film Commission and Spanish producers' federation FAPAE are all backing the event. "The project has been presented to city hall. We're presently in talks with the organizers," a spokesman for Madrid's municipal government said.

The festival's budget is understood to be about $1 million, though additional sponsors are still being sought. The Palacio de Congresos is likely to be the main venue for the event.

Aware that it is launching in an already crowded festival calendar, Madrid will focus on premiering high-end art films in a privileged setting by using some of the city's most emblematic venues.

"We are looking to make Madrid a point of reference for innovation and understanding film as a pure form of culture and art, not just as a mere spectacle," Kannon de Cle explained.

The festival will include a competition section of about 10 films competing for the top honor of the Golden Cat, which takes its name from the national nickname for Madrid residents. Two separate sidebars will focus respectively on international independent movies that are unique either in content or style and on first-time directors who will vie for a cash prize. Madrid also will offer lifetime achievement awards.

According to the festival's published guidelines, organizers plan to target cultural heavyweights and serious film professionals rather than star-struck fans and promise to center the festival "as much on the high standard of the films shown as on the guests in attendance."

Special attention also will be paid to disciplines usually relegated to a less important level, such as art direction, music, costumes and photography, she said.

Aside from film director and screenwriter Kannon de Cle, the Cim & Art Foundation's membership includes some of Madrid's most notable names from a variety of artistic fields, including Spanish designer Antonio Pernas, composer Jose Miguel Fernandez Sastron, actress Angela Molina, artist Fran Mohino, producer Arantxa Garrido and high-profile attorney Julio Veloso.

Organizers said the Madrid event is not looking to compete with Spain's premier cinema event, the San Sebastian International Film Festival. "Despite the vast number of festivals in Spain, there is none other like what Madrid is planning," explained Spanish producer Primitivo Rodriguez, a board member of sponsoring group EGEDA. "There is no other that emphasizes this kind of truly art film."

The initiative is aimed at putting Madrid squarely on the map for the international film community. "(The objective of this and other film events in Madrid) is to be one of the neurological centers of the worldwide film and television sector," Madrid Film Commission's Manuel Soria said.

Berlin is the only major European capital with a top-flight competitive festival and associated market. London and Paris both have large public festivals but those do not attract many industry professionals. Rome this year held its inaugural film event. It remains to be seen what place the Italian event will take up in the industry calendar, coming as it does barely a month after Venice.