San Seb sees sales interest but few deals

'Secret in Their Eyes' among the competition favorites

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- The 57th San Sebastian International Film Festival hit the halfway mark Tuesday with the general consensus that Juan Jose Campanella's "The Secret in Their Eyes" leads the rest of the pack in the official competition.

While Atom Egoyan's "Chloe," Mohammad Rasoulof's Iranian "The White Meadows" and Aaron Schneider's "Get Low" have each been well received, the unusual round of applause at a press screening for "Secret" and the incessant San Sebastian chatter about Ricardo Darin's strong performance and Campanella's lacing together of comic timing, police investigation and love story point to a good showing at the awards ceremony.

While Sony Pictures Classics has picked up "Get Low" out of Toronto and Spanish arthouse distributor Alta Classics announced at San Sebastian it took Spanish rights to four Toronto titles -- including Michael Moore's "Capitalism: a love story," "A Good Heart," "Lourdes" and "I am Love" -- sales from the Spanish festival are yet to be closed.

"We have a bidding war in France, the U.K. and Australia on Campanella's film," said Latido Films chief Max Saidel, handling international sales for "Secrets." "And I expect to close the U.S. by the end of next week."

"At first I thought it was going to be a slow festival," said Amparo Castellano, general manager of the Cluster Audiovisual Valencia, which has a stand at the festival's sales office. "But there's been a lot of traffic and we expect to close deals within the next day or two."

Elsewhere at the festival, the Valencia region -- home to the blue-chip studio facility Ciudad de la Luz -- announced some $26 million through 2011 in incentives for locally shot films. The rebates are applied to 16% of locally spent production money, with the ceiling raised to 20% if the overall budget spent in the Valencia region is more than $17 million within a year. A company may combine the local spend of various productions within one calendar year to hit the $17 million mark and achieve the 20% rebate.

The Valencia Film Institute has earmarked $10.2 million for 2010, and capped the credits at $5.1 million per film.

Also in San Sebastian, Eduardo Corcuera announced the Sevilla International Locations Expo, scheduled Nov. 5-8 to coincide with the Sevilla European Film Festival. With about 50 exhibitors slated to attend and targeted at European shoots, the fair capitalizes on Spain's growing market as a location for international shoots.

"We have a lot of industry professionals interested in attending," Corcuera said. "It is an aggressive policy to attract shoots."

Still to come in San Sebastian, which runs in Spain's northern Basque region Sept. 18-26, is the Donostia lifetime award to Sir Ian McKellen and a visit by Naomi Watts.