Spain shortlists three Oscar contenders

Actor Luis Tosar stars in all three, coincidentally

MADRID -- The Spanish Film Academy has shortlisted Daniel Monzon's prison drama "Cell 211," Andrucha Waddington's bio-drama "Lope" and Iciar Bollain's drama "Even the Rain" as contenders for Spain's bid for an Oscar. The final decision will be announced Sept. 28.

The shortlist highlights two trends in Spain's film industry: the role of television broadcasters in financing marketable products and the draw of actor Luis Tosar.

Tosar toplines all three films, playing a broad range of characters from prison rebellion leader to bristly-but-kind priest to movie producer.

"They are three totally different films and it's a coincidence that I'm in all three," Tosar said. "I feel very lucky, but there's a long road a head and I don't really know what the Hollywood academy values. It used to be more predictable, but now it's surprising."

What clearly seems not to be a coincidence is that each of the finalists is backed by the deep pockets of broadcasters, which are required to invest 5% of their annual revenues in film production.

"Cell 211" is co-produced by Telecinco -- which already made the trek to the Kodak Theater in 2007 for "Pan's Labyrinth"-- "Lope" is co-produced by Antena 3 with participation by public broadcaster Television Espanola and "Rain" is backed by the pubcaster and Spanish pay-channel Canal Plus.

Each of the projects came to the broadcasters from young, independent producers.

"Cell 211" is co-produced by Spain's Morena Films and Vaca Films and France's La Fabrique de Films and La Fabrique 2; "Lope" is co-produced by Spain's Ikiru Films and Toro Films, with Brazil's Conspiracao; and, Morena and Vaca reteam to co-produce "Rain" with France's Mandarin Cinema and Alebrije Cine y Video.
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