Source: Courtesy of Malaga Film Festival

Juan Antonio Vigar

The Malaga Film Festival includes 19 features — 11 from Spain and eight from Latin America — in competition, while the industry programme, the Mafiz (Malaga Festival Industry Zone), which runs March 4-8, focuses on works-in-progress.

Various events, including the latest edition of Spanish Screenings, will showcase Spanish-language content to international buyers, producers and financiers. The initiative is part of the Spanish Screenings XXL plan, promoted by the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, to support the Spanish industry internationally.

Festival director Juan Antonio Vigar talks about the festival’s key role in spotlighting Spanish and Latin American cinema and the role of the festival on the international circuit.

What stands out for you about this year’s edition? 
Our goal has been to consolidate further the two key strategies we have been working on for a few years now. The first is the presence of Latin American cinema at our festival. Malaga is an important meeting point for coproducing, showcasing and networking for the Spanish and the Latin American industries. We share close cultural ties, and it makes sense.

The second key strategy has been the strengthening of our industry area. The Mafiz has grown exponentially, and we are very happy to see how it has evolved with the Spanish Screenings Content event. This has made Malaga one of the most relevant markets for our industry in Europe. In the industry area we have kept the spotlight on remakes, literary adaptations, shorts, and also animation. In terms of professionals attending, they come from 59 countries from all over the world, not just Latin America and Europe. 

What themes or genres have emerged from the films you’ve selected for competition this year?
Comedies are back in force. Post-pandemic, Spanish cinema has left behind a more sombre approach to our world. Films like Un Hipster En La España Vacía by Emilio Martínez Lázaro, but also other titles in the official selection and out-of-competition. There are also films with very powerful female characters. 

The percentage of films selected directed by women is 37.6%. What’s the festival’s policy regarding parity?
The goal is that the number of films directed by women we select is as close as possible to the percentage of films submitted for consideration. This year, of the total of films submitted, 37.9% were directed by women. So we have kept the balance. I would like to stress that the number of films by women filmmakers has increased 5.2% from last year. We are very glad also to be welcoming in competition filmmakers with their second features, like Andrea Jaurrieta who premiered her first film Ana By Day in Malaga and is now back with Nina; or Celia Rico, who is premiering her second feature Little Loves

Animation as a growing sector in the Mafiz, and this edition of the festival is opening with Dragonkeeper, an animated feature, a first for Malaga.

It is a stunning film, a Spain-China co-production. It is in competition and it’s a perfect way to start the official selection. Animation is a growing sector in our industry and Pablo Berger’s success with Robot Dreams, selected in Cannes and nominated for a best animated feature at the Oscars, is a good example of this. We are also happy to welcome back Salvador Simó, one of the directors of Dragonkeeper who was previously at the festival with Buñuel In The Labyrinth Of The Turtles.

Does the strength of Mafiz rely more on works-in-progress, co-production deals or on sales?
The Malaga Festival Fund & Co-Production (Maff) lab is very active and the Work In Progress event, that helps look for support to complete productions, has given us reason to be proud in recent years with titles like Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform and David Pérez Sañudo’s Ane Is Missing that went on to be very successful.

More recently, Berlinale competition title Pepe, by Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, that won the Silver Bear for best director, was also at the Maff.

Deals are closed for co-production in Malaga too, and for international sales. Last year, about 80 sales deals involving Spanish-language productions were sealed in Malaga.