Spain’s presence in Cannes this year offers testimony to the evolving co-production scene, as well as the economic concerns driving the search for international partners and the ambitions of a highly cosmopolitan generation of filmmakers leading artistic cinema production in Spain.
Four Spanish features made a splash at Cannes this year: Albert Serra’s entry in the “Pacifiction” competition; Rodrigo Soroguín “The Beasts” at the premiere; A classic title was by José Luis Lopez Linares “Goya, Carrier and the Ghost of Buñuel”; And the biweekly directors’ competition “El Agua” by Elena Lopez Riera.
All four are international co-productions. Also at Cannes, an exhibition of the Spanish Producers Network, supported by ICEX Trade and Investment and the ICAA Film Institute, will highlight eight potential co-production projects abroad.
Spain’s burgeoning co-pro scene is one reaction to the challenges of the local market. On April 29, Carla Simon’s Golden Bear-winning Berlinal “Alcarràs” became an event movie, posting an impressive sale of 60,000 tickets over its first weekend, and racking up the best average print revenue of any Spanish release this year. However, most arthouse films in Spain sink without a trace. So independent filmmakers in Spain need a second country to produce films with any ambition.
says Alex Lafuente, co-founder of independent production and distribution company Bteam Pictures.
Other factors push filmmakers to look outside.
“We’ve worked for years to get international exposure, thinking about international cooperation from the start,” says Lafuente. “This generates a lot of Spanish films in international festivals and develops the ability to get them outside our borders.”
In addition, the newer generation of Spanish filmmakers – who are highly cosmopolitan, passionately collaborating, outward-facing, many of whom have studied abroad – are largely unwilling to make films based solely in one country.
“We need to co-produce so that our film is in festivals, so that international sales agents and distributors are committed to taking it to other countries,” says Maria Zamora, producer of “Alcarràs,” co-founder of Elastica Films.
Co-production can help launch complex projects on the ground. “Co-production forums attract me very much. I strongly believe in universality: these stories, no matter how local, can reach many places,” says Zamora, who interviewed Kino Produzione producer Giovanni Bombelli at TorinoFilmLab. He later moved on to “Alcarràs” as co-producer, allowing the film to benefit from an Italian minority co-production fund.
Projects presented at international writing and development workshops also generate early buzz and allow producers to receive feedback.
As audiences in Spain spend more and more time with author-created high-end television, film producers are looking to foreign stocks to fund titles.
The challenge, said Pedro Hernandez of Aquí y Allí Films in Madrid, is that “it is really difficult for a co-producer to raise $315,225 and $525,375 from abroad to invest in a film that is likely to be shot in Spain. “
The central and regional government of Spain is exploring another path.
With the ICAA Film Protection Fund set at $102.24 million for 2022, Spain’s Cabinet in February approved a $16.9 million call for selective support for production projects, with a minimum of 5% ($844,000) targeting minority co-productions with foreign companies.
In 2020, the Catalan Institute of Cultural Institutions (ICEC) launched a $1.26 million co-production fund for a minority whose funds cannot exceed 60% – with a maximum of $316,200 – of the local producer’s share. Funding must be guaranteed at 40% of the project’s total budget.
Also, the regional government of Galicia allocates part of a fund of $2.64 million for international co-production with the participation of a Spanish minority.
Canary Islands Film Coordinator Natasha Mora said the Canary Islands, on top of the global film and television wave with its staggering 50% tax incentive for filming, is “working on the action” to launch a minority co-production fund. diverse.
Bteam benefited from the Catalan co-production fund for the project “Quién Mató a Narciso?” , a European and Latin American co-production with La Babosa Cine in Paraguay, directed by Marcelo Marinisi “The Heiresses”.
Such funds are necessary. It allows us to join European or Latin American projects where we often find many difficulties to do in Spain, not only because of citizenship requirements, but also because of financing conditions,” says Alex Lafuente of Bteam.
“The ICAA has set aside money for selective subsidies to be able to co-produce theater films, but it is very limited,” he notes.
Featured projects also have access to many international funds such as the European Union Media Program as well as Eurimages and Ibermedia.
Meanwhile, Europe, especially France, continues to embrace notable Spanish authors. Kan emphasizes this point.
Just one example: Arcadia Motion Pictures, Caballo Films from Sorogoyen, and Cronos Entertainment produce “The Beasts” sold by Latido, with France’s Le Pacte, regular partner in Sorogoyen Films, as co-producer.
“Having a French co-producer helps position the film in France. If it is a strong partner, it is an added value,” says Hernandez, producer of “Aquí y allá” by Antonio Méndez Esparza, winner of the first prize at Critics’ Week in Cannes in 2012. .
“But there are young Spanish filmmakers who are generating interest outside the French market,” he argues.
One example: Global streaming service MUBI recently picked up North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Latin America, among other regions, on Carla Simon’s “Alcarràs,” in a deal struck by French sales agent MK2 that included the theatrical release of the film.