Agustin and Pedro Almodovar return to the Academy after six-year absence.

Enrique Gonzalez Macho, president of indie production/distribution/exhibition outfit Alta Films, has been elected as the new president of Spain’s Film Academy, beating off competition from veteran director Bigas Luna. His term will run for three years.

A hugely respected industry figure, Macho will be supported in his role by the actress Marta Etura and local director Judith Colell who will serve as vice presidents. 

Macho replaces cult director Alex De La Iglesia who announced in January he was leaving his post as president in protest at the controversial anti-piracy Sinde law, named after minister of culture Angeles Gonzalez Sinde, which will see illegal sites potentially shut down and is likely to be introduced in the coming months.

Commenting on the Sinde law, Macho said it has still not been fully developed, but made it clear downloading films for free on illegal sites was something that must be stopped. “If you want quality content, you must pay for it. Health, education and justice are not free, because the doctors, teachers and magistrates need to be paid for their work, and no one questions it.”

Macho’s Alta Films, along with several other local indie distribution outfits, have been heavily affected by piracy. Enrique Gonzalez Kuhn, head of acquisitions at Alta Films, recently told Screen: “The situation with the local market is critical, I have never seen it so bad. Piracy is rampant, DVD is dead and VoD is not taking off, it is a disastrous time for us independent distributors.”

Talking to the press after being confirmed as president, a clearly happy Macho joked that he hadn’t yet been contacted by Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde or Alex De La Iglesia because “famous people never call me”.

On a more serious note, he also insisted that the venue for the Goya awards, Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars, needs to take place in a “more spacious and comfortable location”, which they will look for.

Macho will return to the Academy today to get to know the committee and board and to see how everything functions before getting on with his work as president.

In further Academy news, Pedro Almodovar and his brother Agustin have decided to make peace with the Spanish Film Academy and rejoin as members after a seven-year absence. They originally stopped their membership in protest at the Academy’s Goya awards voting system.

And finally, one of the Academy’s members, film maker Miguel Sirgo, was arrested recently due to allegedly posting copies online of the films which competed for the Goya awards using his membership access code to obtain the titles, including some which hadn’t yet been released in the cinemas, such as Carlos Iglesias’ Ispansi.

Sirgo and two colleagues at his 12 Pinguinos production company gave statements to the police, denying the charges, and now await their call to court.