Malaga unveils competition lineup

Antonio Banderas to attend festival for the first time

MADRID -- The 12th annual Malaga Spanish Film Festival will stay true to its roots with its April 17-25 edition, offering a bevy of directorial debuts. But even as new festival director Carmelo Romero has placed an emphasis on continuity while taking the reins from Solomon Castiel, he's adding a few ingredients to spice things up.

Native son Antonio Banderas will attend the festival for the first time to present the Malaga Award to Juan Diego, whom he directed in his Spanish-language, Malaga-based film "Summer Rain." The festival will offer a "making of" section dedicated to Banderas' film.

Cult director Alex de la Iglesia will preside over an official jury consisting of director Sergio Cabrera; actors Jose Manuel Cervino, Ruben Ochandiano and Emma Suarez; and writers Lucia Etxebarria and Juan Madrid.

But the meat of the festival, which runs in the Mediterranean resort town on Spain's southern coast, lies with the official lineup revealed Tuesday.

Screenwriter David Planell's feature debut, "The Shame," will open the official competition, vying with 14 other films for the Golden Biznaga and its €60,000 ($79,400) prize.

Eight films in the main competition are directorial debuts including Fernando Gonzalez Molina's romantic comedy "Brain Drain," Lalo Garcia's thriller "7.5 Steps" and Mar Coll's family drama "Three Days With the Family."

"There are few directors that work continuously, so there are a lot of new directors debuting," festival organizer Fernando Mendez-Leite said. "The festival collects the harvest and gives an overall idea of what's going on with this year's production crop."

In keeping with the fresh-faced talent theme, the festival has created a Youth Jury, made up of seven members between the ages of 18 and 26.

The ZonaZine section -- a platform for the more alternative and risky forms of film -- will encompass six features, including Patxi Amezcua's story of hustlers and thieves "25 Carats" and comedian/actress Antonia San Juan's female-focused directorial debut "You Choose. The documentary section, meanwhile, groups 29 films.

A dozen films will compete in the Latin American section for the €9,000 ($12,000) top prize, including Juan Taratuto's "Un Novio para mi Mujer" (A Boyfriend for My Wife) and Jose Antonio Varela's "The Class."

The festival, which enjoys a strong following from locals, will erect a giant screen in a central plaza for free showings of its regular programming. Admittance will be by invitation only.