The Spanish Film Screenings for Europe (Nov 29-Dec 1) closed a successful second edition Friday night on the Canary Island of Lanzarote. Sales were few, but general consensus praised the event as a budding force for making contacts and launching Spanish cinema.
The use of DVD technology and the concentration in a single venue meant the Screenings came off with fewer technical and organisational glitches than last year's flawed inaugural edition. "This event is increasingly becoming the platform for launching Spanish films abroad," said Screenings director Teodoro Rios, who broadened the invitation list this year to include buyers from the US, Japan, Korea and Israel.
"I think [the Screenings are] extremely useful because if you take the time to do it seriously, by the end of the three days you would have seen a wide variety of directors and a wide variety of actors," said Massimo Saidel, head of European film co-productions and acquisitions at France's TF1, which recently picked up world rights on Agustin Diaz Yanes' much anticipated No News From God (Sin Noticias De Dios). God will star Penelope Cruz and Victoria Abril on a 2001 shoot.
"For an independent producer, this is a great opportunity to get yourself, your product and the talent behind your film known," said Jordi Rediu and Norbert Llaras of indie start-up Agotadas las Localidades, backers of tattoo drama Tatawo.
Reactions were mixed for the close to 30 films screened, but a few pictures - such as Filmax's Compassionate Sex (Sexo Por Compasion), Sogepaq's Fugitives (Fugitivas) and Lolafilms' Gaudi Afternoon - generated good buzz.
The Screenings weren't without their criticisms. "The organisation was very professional. However, the fact that some films arrived without subtitles, and not having a synopsis of films or a list of territories available made it more difficult for buyers," said Monere Renoir, new sales manager at Cologne-based Media Luna.
Jose Maria Otero, general director of Spain's Institute for Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA), capitalised on the occasion to announce that the country's new cinema law is expected to obtain final approval on December 15. The new law codifies existing state subsidy decrees and gives the country's controversial screen quota system five years to fade out.
The Spanish Film Screenings are sponsored by the Canary Islands and Lanzarote governments, the Ministry of Culture and the Spanish producers' federation FAPAE, among other organisations.