Better practices needed for some Spanish festivals; conference also discusses online windows.

“We strongly recommend film festivals to actively seek for private money in order to survive,” said Susana de la Sierra, director of ICAA, in a summit this week organised by Mapfre Foundation attracting luminaries of Spanish cinema.

“We have seen too many festivals and bad practices,” added José Luis Rebordinos, chief of the San Sebastian Festival. They both urged Spanish festivals to have smarter practices.

In recent months, Spanish film festivals like Valencia’s Mostra and Punto de Vista in Pamplona have cancelled their editions and became biannual. Valladolid, Sitges and also Gijon, with a controversial change of direction, are in turmoil and suffering significant budget cuts.

Sierra pointed out that the new law of sponsorship for the arts that the Government is preparing “will not go for producing films as it is being said. It will be very useful for financing cultural events as film festivals but the tax deductions for productions are part of the 2007 law of cinema that is still our basis.”

Surprisingly, Sierra said that she supported the principle that the State must provide funds for cinema “according to the European rules”. This balances the statements made by the Secretary of Culture, Mr. José María Lassalle, for an “anglo-saxon system” and gives some light to the beleagured local industry.

“We will continue in the board of San Sebastián, Málaga and Huelva,” said Sierra of the ICAA, “but we might apply new conditions for other events that ask for funds such as the geography, the tradition of the festival or if it has a clear personality that adds something to the general panorama.” San Sebastián will receive this year $1.3m of ICAA funding; Malaga gets $130,000 and Huelva gets $80,000.

Rebordinos said: “It must not happen again that new festivals are build up from nothing with a $4m budget. San Sebastián has never gone to an auction to screen any film and in the boom era we saw a lot disloyal competition. Besides, some of these festivals have been organised without technical skills and the copies were damaged. This gave or country a bad reputation of not being careful.”

Sierra also called for festivals to work hard to build audiences. José Luis Cienfuegos, who increased the audiences of the Gijon Film Festival from 10,000 to 75,000 in 15 years, said: “We have seen a bubble of festivals that destroyed the market. We tried to grow organically and win new audiences like the younger and the elder step by step.”

The summit was organized by Fundación Mapfre’s Festival 4+1, an event that involves four Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico) and Spain. The Festival, due for October, is screening online. Susana de la Sierra said that State will firmly support internet rleasing as a legal window. Juan Carlos Tous, director of, said that “VoD sites must be the perfect complement for film festivals.”

Tous noted the success of the recent Atlantida Film Fest, that has had more than 17,000 visits in two weeks (it runs until May 4) or the, with more than 120.000 streamings. Domingo Corral, chief of Turner Broadcasting System Spain, that has a partnership with Canal Plus plattform, said that “in the future there will be no difference between traditional channels and internet sites. We are clearly going on that path”. Both Tous and Corral urged for a revision of screening windows but Corral remainded: “When HBO produces Game of Thrones, the first window is for HBO not for Netflix. We have to create new rules, not destroy fair competition.”