'Dancing With Death'

Source: LaCima Producciones

‘Dancing With Death’

Spanish documentary projects are well represented in the Cannes market. As part of the Cannes Docs programme and backed by the Spanish Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA) and ICEX Spain Trade and Investment, a series of documentary works-in-progress will be shown at the Spain Co-Pro Social Club Session on May 18.

The selection comprises six projects presented by four Spanish companies: Filmika Galaika, Tourmalet Films, 15L Films and LaCima Producciones.

Galicia-based Filmika Galaika is behind titles such as Lois Patiño and Matias Piñeiro’s Sycorax and Eloy Enciso’s Endless Night. Filmika Galaika, led by Beli Martinez, is bringing Carla Andrade’s The Mountain On My Wall. Andrade’s debut feature is a self-reflective look at love that “oscillates between found footage, essay and poetic approaches”, explains producer Martinez. “For now, the results are still quite mysterious because we are in an embryonic stage.”

The producer emphasises the company’s philosophy of documentary as an open form of film — working creatively with what is real, and staying away from “ideas full of talking heads and inserts”.

Tourmalet Films, based in Tenerife, is run by Mayi Gutierrez, Omar Al Abdul Razzak and Blanca Bonet. “We are a company specialising in arthouse films by new directors without distinctions between fiction, documentary or animation, but focused on cinema close to reality and contemporary issues,” says Razzak. “Most of our documentaries have a political background, but always from a personal and intimate perspective.”

Tourmalet’s works include Pedro Collantes’ The Art Of Return; and the company was also co-producer on Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Stockholm.

Tourmalet is bringing Felipe Rugeles’ Muchedumbre to Cannes. The film sees Heriberto Sarmiento wander through the mountains of Jordan, Colombia, seeking to re-enact the crucifixion of his aunt Paulina, a peasant leader murdered by a paramilitary group during the period known as The Violence in the 1950s.

The company is also presenting Razzak and Shira Ukrainitz’s Papagayo, a mix of real footage and animation with a strong personal slant. “It’s a kind of diary of two filmmakers, an Israeli Jew who is an illustrator and a documentarist with Syrian roots. Me. And ‘she’ is my wife… well, my ex-wife,” reveals Razzak. Papagayo is being sold by Spanish sales agent Begin Again Films.

Based in Barcelona, 15L Films has co-produced with countries including Jordan, the Netherlands and France. The company is managed by Olivia Moussa, Carlota Coloma and Adria Lahuerta, and its portfolio includes Alex Sarda’s Hafreiat and Zakaria Jaber’s Anxious In Beirut, both co-productions with Al Jazeera.

At Cannes Docs, 15L is showcasing Guillermo Roques, Rafa Honrubia and Javier Marin’s The Dutchbat and Irene Baqué’s Oasis, which are both are in development.

“If there is one thing all 15L films have in common, it is that they start from the personal to address the political, where risk-taking, commitment and curiosity are fundamental,” says Coloma.

With The Dutchbat (sold by Lightdox), “we aim to shed light on the psychological consequences of war veterans in Europe. While numerous narratives exist about veterans in the US, the European perspective remains largely unexplored, despite the involvement of most European countries in many war conflicts.”

Oasis (sold by Begin Again Films) is a collaborative project with a community of Rarámuri women from northern Mexico, where, according to Coloma, “the 15L team creates scenes based on the Rarámuri’s own, real situations as if they were fictional sequences, to portray a crucial moment in their lives”.

LaCima Producciones is also based in Barcelona. Managed by Pedro Palacios, Marta Lacima and Ricard Sales, LaCima is in Cannes with Dancing With Death, directed by Luis E Parés. Co-produced with France’s 4A4 Productions, the film tackles the dark years of Franco’s regime, “to analyse how cinema showcased the essence of flamenco, both in the mainland but also for those in exile — a daring tone analysing a reality that has never been looked at from this perspective,” says Sales. “We have no fear of telling edgy stories, no fear of stirring the pot. If anything, that’s what we are best at.” The film is seeking international distribution.

Another LaCima project — which will not be at Cannes — is Afternoons Of Solitude, directed by Albert Serra, who won the Un Certain Regard special jury prize with Liberté in 2019 and played in Competition in 2022 with Pacifiction. “It captures a very controversial topic — bullfighting in Spain — through beautiful visuals,” says Sales of Afternoons Of Solitude.