Following on eOne Seville Intl., which announced last week its acquisition of world sales rights on Aritz Moreno’s Advantages of Travelling By Train, Barcelona-based Filmax has confirmed international sales and Spanish distribution rights to another prime Basque film property, crime caper Operación Concha.
Lead-produced by Bilbao’s Abra Produczioak, co- roduced with Mexico, and shooting in February, Operación Concha is a film industry scam comedy set during the San Sebastián Festival, in the line of Ocean’s Eleven, said Abra’s Joxe Portela.
For Filmax’s Carlos Fernández, the Operación Concha pick-up forms part of the company’s bet on Spanish cinema, which paid off with Truman. Filmax, for example, has also taken Spanish and world sales rights to Patxo Telleria’s conniving bank manager comedy Igelak, which received a Basque gala screening at San Sebastián.
Both deals also confirm that the San Sebastian has opened up a third front for business.
That has traditionally cut two ways. Following on back-to-back with Toronto, San Sebastian allows sales agents to announce deals and garner Euro press coverage of titles world premiering at Toronto, then segueing to a competition berth in Spain. That still happens. Last Tuesday, Protagonist Pictures confirmed a slew of deals - U.K. (Altitude Film), France (KMBO), Australia/ New Zealand (Sharmill Films), Latin America (California Filmes); - on Lady Macbeth, a Toronto fest breakout and now frontrunner, in Spanish critics polls at least, for San Sebastian’s 2016 Golden Seashell.
Second, launching Films in Progress, and a Europe-Latin American Co-Production Forum, San Sebastián has rapidly consolidated as a meet-mart Euro springboard for top Latin American arthouse fare. at was still the case in 2016. In top new deals, Rosanna Seregni at Italy’s Alba Produzioni boarded The Cow That Sang Its Song About the Future, the fi rst feature of Francisca Alegria, lead-produced by Chile’s Jirafa Films. “A magical realist fi lm, turning in part on technology, and very 21st century,” according to Jirafa’s Augusto Matte, Cow will now apply for a newly-created Chile- Italy co-production fund.
But San Sebastián, for deals and business announcements, now has a third trading axis: International markets and its own Basque Cinema. In a banner deal at the 64th San Sebastian Festival, 2 Guns and Everest director Baltasar Kormakur announced he will co-produce Red Fjords, a large scale crime thriller, set in 1616 Iceland, originated and produced by Bilbao-based Eduardo Carneros, teaming on production with Madrid’s Tornosal Films.
Beyond Advantages and Operación Concha, other international sales deals look likely to go down on new Basque movies, such is the singularity of their concept. Basque Fermín Muguruza confirmed he will direct Black is Beltza, an adult- argeting animated feature, inspired by true events, chronicling six months of tumultuous 1967 U.S. counterculture, seen through the eyes of a young Basque observer.
Meanwhile, Moriarti’s Xabi Berzosa annouced that the nineteenth century-set Aundiya, turning on the Giant of Alzo, Europe’s tallest man, is tracking for delivery in March. And Telmo Esnal (Go!) will direct Dantxa, centered on Basque dances and set up at Txintxua Films, producer of Asier Altuna’s Amama.
Basque dealings isn’t the only burgeoning business illustrated by San Sebastián, however. Its biggest Spanish movie, J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls, was sold abroad by Lionsgate. Two of the best-received of San Sebastian competition films this year, Smoke & Mirrors and May God Save Us, are both distributed in Spain by Warner Bros. At San Sebastián, FilmSharks Intl. announced it was handling international on band reunion comedy Almost Legends, toplining Santiago Segura, co-produced by Telefe, the biggest broadcaster in Argentina and distributed in Latin America by Buena Vista Intl.
In other words, the picture painted by market deals and announcements at San Sebastián diff ers little from that of the international market at large: If governments carefully curate their national inemas (which looks now like the case of the Basque Country) talent can come from almost anywhere: such is the surge in local industries that the biggest movie companies in the world, Hollywood studios and quasi studios, all want in.
Further business announced or clinched at the 64th San Sebastián Festival, which runs Sept. 16-24:
*Paris-based Films Distribution has acquired world sales rights to Life and Nothing More, Antonio Méndez Esparza’s follow-up to Cannes Critics’ Week winner Aquí y Allá. Life is set up at Madrid- ased Aquí y Allí Films, producers of San Sebastián Golden Shell winner Magical Girl, which FD also sold.
*Geraldine Gonard, at Madrid’s Inside Content, has taken international sales rights to Diego Galan’s Manda Huevos, now selected by a lot of Europe and Latin America festivals this fall, including Toulouse and Warsaw,” Gonard said.
At San Sebastián, Inside Content sold Ines Paris’ comedy The Night My Mother Killed My Father to Italy’s Exit Media.
*Chilean Sundance Grand Prix winner Alejandro Fernandez Almendras (To Kill a Man) will direct A Work of Love. A career departure, the dramedy will be shot in Czech in the Czech Republic.
*Juana Acosta (Vientos de La Habana), Andrés Parra (Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal) and Antonio de la Torre (May God Save Us) will topline Colombian Gonzalo Perdomo’s thriller La fianza, produced by Spain’s Producciones Transatlanticas and Colombia’s Laberinto TV, who met at last year’s Forum, said Trasatlanticas’ producer José Antonio Hergueta.
*Horacio Urban’s Madrid-based Urban Films has unveiled new pickups Included: Luis Vil’s Basque movie Excision; Antonio Savinelli’s immigration drama In the City Without a Compass; Agliberto Melendez’s Colored Like the Night, on racial discrimination, directed by José Francisco Peña Gomez; and Cuban Jessica Rodríguez Sánchez’s Dark Glasses.