Malaga Film Festival Unveils Lineup, Including Netflix Films, and a Growing Industry Zone

Courtesy of Netflix
'A Quien te Llevarias a una Isla Desierta'

Two years since transforming its identity into a pan-regional showcase, the annual event looks to solidify its place on the film calendar.

The 22nd annual Malaga Film Festival runs March 15-24 with a lineup of Spanish and Latin American films, including two new original films from Netflix and a growing profile as an international industry hub for both regions.

“The Malaga Festival is now in the strategic place we opted to move towards two years ago: a festival of cinema ‘in Spanish,’” defined by “geography, production and especially language,” festival director Juan Antonio Vigar told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is our uniqueness.”

That blend is on display in the festival lineup, which includes a total 210 films from 26 countries.

Among the 22 titles in the official competition are a new Spanish original production from Netflix, A Quien te Llevarias a una Isla Desierta from director Jota Linares starring Money Heist and Elite actors Maria Pedraza and Jaime Lorente, and a new film starring Oscar-nominated Roma actress Marina de Tavira of Mexico. Netflix-backed comedy A Pesar de Todo from director Gabriela Tagliavini is premiering in the official section out of competition.

The premiere last month in Berlin of Netflix's Spanish film Elisa & Marcela elicited a small red-carpet protest and an official complaint from an association of German independent exhibitors.

Argentinean actress and frequent Pedro Almodovar muse Cecilia Roth will be the subject of a retrospective at the festival, while the Malaga prize will go to actor Javier Gutierrez, star of last year’s runaway box office hit in Spain, Champions, among other special honors.

“We’ve wanted to continue advancing in the idea of a festival representative of what Spanish and Ibero-American cinema are today in terms of creativity and production,” Vigar said of this year’s official line-up, detailed below.

Industry Zone

The festival also plays host to the Malaga Festival Industry Zone (MAFIZ), a portfolio of industry events with two fronts: providing a place for international buyers to discover new films from the two regions, and creating a nexus for co-productions between Europe and Latin America. 

“A festival can’t look to the future if it doesn’t serve the interests of its industry of reference,” Vigar said, adding that last year 580 professionals from 51 countries and five continents attended MAFIZ.

According to MAFIZ coordinator Annabelle Aramburu, “the new sections we’re inaugurating this year are a response to the needs of the industry.” They include "Neo Screenings" for innovative works from Spain and "Spanish Work in Progress" for Spanish films in post-production.

Within MAFIZ, Aramburu added, the "Malaga Festival Fund & Co-Production Event" and "Latin American Focus" (Argentina is showcased this year) are aimed at fomenting financing and co-production agreements between Europe and Latin America, while "Malaga Work in Progress," "Malaga Talent" and "Malaga Docs" offer industry representatives the chance to discover newer talents, more experimental works and documentaries from across the region.

The 13th annual "Spanish Film Screenings" — now in their third year in Malaga after relocating from Madrid — offer a three-day market for buyers and festival programmers to get a scoop on new Spanish feature films, including the Malaga competition titles.

“Malaga is becoming an ideal place where buyers and sellers can catch up on the latest in Spanish cinema,” said Antonio Saura, managing director of sales outfit Latido Films, which has six films in competition in Malaga this year and co-sponsors "Malaga Work in Progress." “We consider it a bridge between EFM and Cannes.”

Official Lineup

Some 32.5 percent of the films in this year’s program at Malaga are by female directors. Malaga has given four of its last seven best film prizes to women directors, and in this year’s official competition of 22 titles, six female directors are represented.

They bring films from Spain — Ines de Leon’s Get Her… If You Can, co-director Esteve Soler’s 7 Reasons to Run Away (From Society) and Neus Ballus’ Staff Only – and Latin America, including Costa Rica (Antonella Sudasassi’s Hormigas), Cuba (co-director Laura Cazador’s Insumisas) and Mexico (Alejandra Márquez Abella’s The Good Girls).

Among the nine Latin American entries in competition are also: Brazil’s The Great Mystical Circus starring Vincent Cassel; Argentina’s Aire starring Julieta Zylberberg (Wild Tales) and Luis Maria Mercado’s directorial debut Vigilia en Agosto; Mexico’s This is Not Berlin starring de Tavira; Peru’s Los Helechos; and Colombia’s Wandering Girl.

The remaining titles from Spain are: animated feature Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles; Antes de la Quema from veteran director-producer Fernando Colomo; Elite director Daniel de la Orden’s Litus; Santi Amodeo’s black comedy Yo, Mi Mujer y Mi Mujer Muerta; Mikel Rueda’s couple tale El Doble Mas Quince starring Maribel Verdu; Paco Banos’ 522. A Cat, A Chinese Guy and My Father starring Elisa & Marcela’s Natalia de Molina; Carlos Marques-Marcet’s Catalan-language The Days to Come; Alfonso Cortes-Cavanillas’ Sordo; and directorial debut La Banda from Roberto Bueso.

Director Patricia Ferreira, who won the festival’s top prize in 2012 with The Wild Ones, will preside over the official selection jury.

Other honorary awards to be given out at the event are the Ricardo Franco Award to scriptwriter and showrunner Rafael Cobos (The Plague), the Malaga Talent Award for actor-director Raul Arevalo (The Fury of a Patient Man) and the Biznaga Prize for veteran actress of stage and film Julia Gutierrez Caba.

Full details of this year’s program are available on the festival’s website.