Spanishbroadcaster Antena 3 cranks up production on Monday (Oct 17) on its biggest feature filmto date, the Euros 10m period drama Los Borgia.

The 100% Antena3 production is set to roll during 10 weeks in Spain and Italy beginningOctober 17 with stars Paz Vega (Spanglish), Lluis Homar (Bad Education), Maria Valverde (Melissa P) and Sergio Peris Mencheta (SecretAgents).

Los Borgia is just one of several high-profilefilms currently in production at Spain's two private, free-to-air broadcasters,Antena 3 and Telecinco. Another hotly anticipated title is ViggoMortensen-starrer Alatriste, a Telecinco co-production and the costliest Spanish movie everat an estimated Euros 20m.

A glance atfeature films currently in production in Spain reveals how astute the two channelsare at boarding or backing the hottest material and local talents. Antena 3picked up rights last year to Torrente 3, which broke all box office records in Spain on its openingweekend this month. It also co-produced the second biggest local hit this year,football comedy The World's Longest Penalty (El Penalti Mas Largo DelMundo).

It is nowco-producing slapstick comedy The Last Neanderthal (El Ultimo Neandertal) and psychological thriller MirrorMaze (El Laberinto De Espejos), and is negotiating a role in Bigas Luna's in-development I AmJuani (Yo Soy La Juani).

Telecinco isco-producing Guillermo del Toro's new Spanish Civil War-set horror/fantasy filmPan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del Fauno) and Filmax's Timothy Hutton-starrer The Kovak Box. It also has two sequels to local boxoffice hits in the pipeline: The Other Side Of The Bed (El Otro Lado De LaCama) follow-up The 2Sides Of The Bed (Los Dos Lados De La Cama), and Moscow Gold (El Oro De Moscu) follow-up, Rasputin's Dagger (LaDaga De Rasputin).

Despiteappearances, the list of films actually underscores local industry criticismconcerning the television sector's selective investment in Spanish cinema,complaints which target not only overall expenditure but also the choice ofproduct. Antena 3 and Telecinco do tend to favour commercial fare, althoughless conventional films in the works with TV backing include titles like DavidTrueba's in-production couple dramedy Bienvenido A Casa (an Antena 3 co-production), FernandoLeon's Princesas (anAntena 3 acquisition going strong at the Spanish box office), and EmirKustirica's in-production Maradona documentary (a Telecinco co-production).

Los Borgiarevolves around the Spanish dynasty of the 15th and 16th centurieswhichbirthed two popes, Alejandro VI and Calixto III. The confluence of the family'sreligious and political sway during the Italian Renaissance has inspired muchhistorical debate.

The film willreflect the passions the family ignited, as well as the artistically vibranthistorical context. A massive wardrobe has been recreated using paintings ofthe era from artists such as Boticelli, Piero della Francesca and Pinturiccio,the official painter of Pope Alejandro VI. The expansive supporting castincludes veteran Angela Molina (Live Flesh) and Penelope Cruz's younger sister Monica Cruz. Crewincludes respected Spanish DP Javier Salmones and Italian art designer StildeAmbruzzi.

Telecinco'sAlatriste vaunts similar credentials: decidedly international ambitions; aperiod adventure tale based on rich historical and literary material andsumptuous wardrobes and locations; a prestigious Spanish director (Agustin DiazYanes); a glittery local ensemble cast led by Eduardo Noriega (El Lobo) and Javier Camara (The Secret LifeOf Words); and a highlyregarded crewincluding production designer Benjamin Fernandez (Gladiator,The Sea Inside) andhabitual Almodovar editor Jose Salcedo.'s production listing section for full list of all Spanish filmsin pre-production, production and post.