The Almodovar brothers' El Deseo company has signed a wide-ranging co-production pact with Spanish media group MediaPro which will allow both companies to expand their current production activities.

The deal was announced this weekend at the San Sebastian International Film Festival (Sept 19-28), which celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala event on Saturday night where Francis Ford Coppola received a special anniversary edition award, having apparently snubbed nearby Marrakech (see separate story).

The El Deseo-MediaPro pact will initially involve development of two feature films, two series, two documentaries and two TV-movies in the next three years. Agustin Almodovar and MediaPro co-founder Jaume Roures, co-producer on San Sebastian competition entry Mondays In The Sun (Los Lunes Al Sol), said the emphasis would be on developing and maturing projects before bringing them to market. "The idea is to combine our expertise and share risks," Almodovar said.

Under him and production manager Esther Garcia, El Deseo brings the creative talent to the agreement while MediaPro, under film production chief Juan Ruiz de Gauna and TV production head Jesus Font, brings skills in TV content creation and rights management. El Deseo also brings the clout of its name, while Media Pro, which had turnover of Euros119m in 2001, offers financial stability.

Budgets and shooting schedules have not yet been decided on any of the projects, which are likely to be set up as 50/50 co-productions. The "most developed" is feature Thaw Out (Descongelate) (working title) from writing-directing team Felix Sabroso and Dunia Ayaso. In the works are TV series Adosados, a family comedy based on characters from Pedro Almodovar's 1995 film The Flower Of My Secret (La Flor De Mi Secreto), and Escoltas, TV movie thriller about bodyguards by writer Javier Felix Echaniz.