The Spanish Film Screenings of Lanzarote (Nov 27-29) closed its fifth annual edition on Saturday with general consensus that the event has consolidated as an important concentrated showcase of Spanish cinema for buyers from Europe and Latin America.
Despite the presence of almost a third fewer buyers this year, 60 in total, and few US and no Asian companies represented, participants largely praised Lanzarote's selection of buyers, the organisation and an informal atmosphere allowing for more personalised contacts.
Organisers tallied a record of close to 20 deal memos signed during the three-day event, which Screenings director Teodoro Rios suggested signalled an increased readiness among buyers - the majority of whom are repeat visitors to the Screenings - to commit to acquisitions on-site.
"The market has become a place where deals actually get made," he said. Further underscoring the event's "continuity," Rios added, was the fact that several buyers picked up rights to films they had viewed at last year's Screenings.
"It is very efficient to concentrate on the productions of just one country at a market," said third-time attendee Frank Stavik, managing director of Norway's As Fidalgo Film Distribution, who picked up all rights except pay TV on popular Lanzarote gala premiere Astronauts (Astronautas) from Kevin Williams Associates (KWA).
"You have a chance to find films you might not have known about or had the time to screen in other markets or festivals," he added.
In all, however, there appeared to be more negotiations begun or followed up on than deals closed at Lanzarote, making the event much smaller in terms of sheer business volume - even on many of the same titles - than nearby markets like Mifed.
The near absence of buyers from the US and Asia, which Rios said stemmed in part from a need to cut travel costs this year after excess spend last year, did not bother sellers, who agreed that the European and Latin American companies were the more active buyers at Lanzarote.
"The people who are here are the ones you're really going to do business with," said Max Saidel of France-based Vision International and new Spain-based Latido, a sales consortium formed by producers Tornasol Films, Zebra Producciones and Continental Films.
"Lanzarote selects its buyers well - attendance was good and there were serious buyers here this year," he added. "Lanzarote concentrates on the territories where Spanish cinema is sold," agreed Sophie MacMahon, sales executive at Sogepaq.
Among the sales announced at Lanzarote were:
'Marina Fuentes, director of start-up Lumina Films, sold in-production animated feature Midsummer Dream (Sueno De Una Noche De San Juan) to France's Colifilms Distribution, and closed all rights on 1970's coming-of-age tale You're My Hero (Eres Mi Heroe) to Mexico's Quality Films and Cineplex for Colombia, Ecuador and Central America.
'Filmax closed all rights on Roma Santa to VO Cines in Colombia, the last remaining territory in Latin America on the hot Mifed title; Killing Words (Palabras Encadenadas) to Poland's Best Films; and ambitious animated feature El Cid to Hungary's Best Hollywood.
'Vision International sold the last remaining territories in Europe outside Germany on Harvey Keitel-starrer The Galindez File to Scandinavia's Angel Films.
'Aside from the Astronauts deal, KWA closed free TV sales on a handful of new and catalogue titles to broadcasters in Ireland, Slovenia and Hungary.