Malaga makes way for old, new


MADRID -- Signaling the beginning of a new film season, the 11th annual Malaga Spanish Film Festival kicks off Thursday with a lineup that offers a slate of premieres from first-time directors and seasoned veterans.

"(The festival's) strength is in having the means necessary to turn the festival into one ... capable of showing off almost the entire range of formats produced by the Spanish industry," festival director Solomon Castiel said in an interview. "And all of it complemented by markets that are growing in importance."

This year's official competition cranks up with Gutierrez-Aragon's controversial "Todos Estamos Invitados" (We're All Invited), about a Basque terrorist suffering from amnesia.

The Festival de Cannes' Guy Braucourt will head the official jury, comprising musician Bernardo Bonezzi, magazine editor Charo Izquierdo, New York Film Festival director Richard Pena, Spanish producer Mate Cantero, actor Juan Diego and director Eliseo Subiela.

While the official lineup may serve as fuel for the Spanish boxoffice in the coming months, parallel markets will offer a wide variety of locally made film, TV and documentaries. The festival plans to spin off its Malaga TV market -- which takes place each May -- in November 2009, when it takes its DocuMalaga event solo.

Calling attention to one of its hallmarks -- alternative forms of filmmaking -- Malaga will this year introduce the Eloy de la Iglesia Award, which rewards Spanish filmmakers who go outside the established boundaries. The inaugural prize goes to Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Enrique Lopez Lavigne, the Spanish director and producer, respectively, of "28 Weeks Later."

One of the festival's prime sections is the Territorio Latinoamericano, screening 11 films that represent the latest trends from Central and South America.

The ZonaZine section, a platform for more alternative and risky forms of film, will encompass six feature films along with 25 shorts and 27 video clips, while the documentary section hosts 18 titles in competition for the 12,000 euro documentary prize.

Malaga also will offer a retrospective of director Mario Camus' work.

Top Spanish actors and directors confirmed to attend include Belen Rueda ("The Orphanage"), Javier Camara ("Talk to Her"), Guillermo Toledo ("Ferpect Crime"), Paco Plaza ("REC"), Manuel Gutierrez Aragon ("We're All Invited"), Gracia Querejeta ("7 Billiards Tables") and Enrique Cerezo.

The festival runs through April 12 in the southern Spain resort town on the Mediterranean coast.