Media Films, the fledgling production division of Spanishdistributor Manga Films, is developing a franchise around popular directorBigas Luna's latest feature, I Am Juani.

The initial feature (Yo Soy La Juani), a 50/50 co-production with Luna's own El VirgiliFilms budgeted at between Euros 4-4.5m, will shoot in late 2005 and is likelyto be spun off into a sequel. "If that goes well we'll consider athird part," adds Media Films head Luis del Val.

Juani is a spunky working class girl from the outer city whodumps her boyfriend and moves to Madrid to fulfil her dream of becoming anactress. "We're looking for the new Penelope Cruz," del Valsays of the exhaustive casting which has narrowed down a list of finalists from3,000 contenders across Spain to 80.

Luna helped launch the careers of Cruz and co-stars JavierBardem and Jordi Molla with his 1992 ode to the Iberian macho, Jamon, Jamon and Bardem-starring follow-up Golden Balls(Huevos De Oro).

Juani promises, inLuna's words, "a new Iberian icon, she's the Cinderella whothrew the crystal shoe at the prince because he was a dick."

Juani is Luna'sfirst feature film since 2001's Son De Mar. He has been working in digital media creating videoinstallations such as the one showing in Malaga this week as part of theSpanish Film Festival's (April 22-30) ART-TV exposition and market.

Media Films has several other features in the works and iscurrently developing a slate of TV movies under the label Mon Amour Films.