Malaga Festival, Filmarket Hub Launch Online Co-Production Forum

John Hopewell and Emilio Mayorga

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MADRID — Cecilia Roth starrer “Alice,” Ana Piterbarg’s “La Habitación Blanca,” Brazil’s sure-to-be controversial “Princesa,” and Mexico’s “Intersex” look like potential standouts in the just-announced movie project pitching platform MAFF Online by Filmarket Hub, part of the biggest push by far into a virtual marketplace made by any festival in the Spanish-speaking world.

Launched by Spain’s Malaga Festival and Filmarket Hub, a Spain-based year-round online market, MAFF (the Malaga Festival Fund & Co-Production Event) will run April 27 to May 10.

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Already, however, Málaga is staging a virtual version of Malaga WIP, which last year brought onto the market the Spanish horror allegory “El Hoyo” (The Platform”), a recent No. 1 movie on Netflix in the U.S. despite its Spanish language.

Showcasing movies in post-production, Málaga WIP runs March 23 to April 10. Parallel to this, a series of masterclasses given by experts in Spain and Latin America, aimed at honing the skills of MAFF producers, focusing on pitching, international sales and private tutorials.

The Malaga Festival was due to run March 13-22 in the coastal city, the second largest in Andalusia, but was postponed on March 10 as COVID-19 gripped Spain sparking the highest per capita mortality rate of any country in the world. Immediately, in a move which looks set to be echoed by other festivals, overseen by industry head Annabelle Aramburu, Malaga pushed back its festival and Spanish Screenings of completed films, but set about launching its wide-ranging industry initiatives online.

The scale of Málaga’s online drive is impressive: 52 movies, either in post or projects in development, showcased over  a total five weeks, before MAFF projects are uploaded online to Filmarket Hub where they will be made available to its 1,000 or so industry members, said Filmarket Hub founder Bernardo Gómez.

Equally striking is the focus on new talent and emerging industries. 17 of the 22 Malaga WIPs and 17 of the 27 MAFF projects are first features.

In this sense, Argentina’s Piterbarg weighs in as a near veteran. Catching international attention with her debut, Viggo Mortensen starrer “Everybody Has a Plan” – produced by Haddock and Tornasol (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) and distributed by Fox Intl. Production – “La Habitation Blanca” tracks a teen girl from Argentina to Bolivia, where a “female coming of age story becomes a fantasy horror story about madness,” said producer Edson Sidonie at Bikini Films, producers of San Sebastian, Ventana Sur and Toulouse winner “Karnawal.”

The feature debut of Guillermo Pfening, a standout as an actor in Julia Solomonoff “Nobody’s Watching,” who writes and directs with Carolina Stegmayer, “Alice” stars Almodóvar regular Cecilia Roth (“Labyrinth of Passions,” “Pain and Glory”) as an actress researching  a character inspired by Pfening’s own mother who is obsessed with facelifts, whatever their impact. Natalia Agudelo Campillo lead produces at Colombia’s MadLove.

High-concept and on paper hilarious, billed as a comedy horror suspense drama, Brazilian Karine Teles’ “Princesa” has a liberal couple who share baby caring duties, but suddenly suffers when the man goes down with a conservative “moral virus.” Now jealous and lazy, he proposes marriage to his partner who, also infected, dreams of her swanky wedding. “Princesa” is set up at Tatiana Leite’s Bubbles Projects, one of Brazil’s most energetic international co-producers.

Turning on the young parents of an inter-sexual baby, “Intersex” is produced by Mexico’s Erika Avila, whose credits include Ernesto Contreras’ “I Dream in Another Language.”

13 of MAFF’s 30 showcased feature projects have at least one producer from a less-established film industry, such as Alejandro Sánchez’s “El Perro en el Año del Perro,” a more mainstream coming of age story with a Bolivian boy falling for a Dutch girl packer, set up at Bolivia’s Londra Films; Dominican feature “Los Sin Nombre,” turning on a female schizophrenic confronting motherhood; and, from Dominican Nelson Carlo de los Santos, director of Locarno and Mar del Plata winner “Cocote,” the original “Pepe, la imaginación en el tercer cine,” a movie narrated by the ghost of a hippopotamus, drawing on local myth.

There’s also a good buzz on “Pobre Diablo,” already presented at a Filmarket Madrid Film Pitchbox and directed by Spain’s Javier Polo, co-creator of the multi-prized documentary “The Mystery of Pink Flamingos,” which would have screened at SXSW; and on “El Sargento Paz,” from Colombia’s Carlos Gaviria, which won best screenplay at Ventana Sur’s Blood Window and is one of the first pick-ups at new French sales agent Party Film Sales.

With Malaga’s 22 pix-in-post now mostly screened by juries and delegates, there’s positive word on David Pérez Sañudo’s terrorism drama “Ane,” selected by Madrid’s prestigious ECAM Incubator, as well as on Argentine Alejandra Almirón’s atmospheric and apocalyptic doc-feature “Black Out!”; the “Peter’s Friends”-ish “Things to Do Before You Die”; and Bruno Carboni’s “The Accident,” an accident aftermath ethical drama from Porto Alegre’s Tokyo Films, producer of Davi Pretto’s  Berlinale Forum players “Castanha” and “Rifle.”

Of other pix-in-post, director Luis Miñarro, also a co-producer on Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” executive produces Javier Tolontino’s “A Blues for Tehran,” a fresco of the often extraordinary singers, poets and musicians in Iran’s capital.

Masterclasses take in Constanza Arenas, director of Chilean promotion board CinemaChile, talking about how to make a film stand out in a hugely competitive international art film market; Filmarket Hub’s Gómez on the use of digital platforms to finance and promote movies; and actress and communications expert Ruth Gabriel talking this Friday about the power of ideas and how to transmit their attraction.

“I’m much more used to feeling and reacting to an audience, scanning the people right in front of me, but we performed tests and rehearsals and [an online masterclass] is not that different or difficult and will certainly favor us at this point,” Gabriel said.

Malaga’s online drive has received the whole-hearted support of festivals, development labs, promotion orgs, publications and producers across the Spanish-speaking world.

“Obviously, the situation we’re living right now will change to a certain extent how we conduct business, and attend festivals and markets in a longer term,” said Spanish producer Xavier Berzosa (“The Endless Trench”).

Nobody associated with Malaga’s digital drive sees it as a total substitute for face-to face meetings at events, however.

“It’s a temporary fix,” said David Matamoros, who co-produced “The Platform” with lead producer Carlos Juárez. “But this industry’s about physical contact, chemistry. Nobody commits to a project from an online catalog alone.”

SELECTED PROJECTS MALAGA FESTIVAL FUND & CO-PRODUCTION EVENT 2020

“La Habitación Blanca” (Ana Piterbarg, Bikini Films, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile)

“Nayaraq, el viaje de Sara” (Juan Rodriguez-Briso, Mundo Audiovisual, Argentina)

“Una mujer sabe” (Maria Victoria Andino, Ah Cine, Argentina, Chile)

“Familia por encargo” (Ramiro Velasco, Chao Pescao, Bolivia, Argentina)

“Alice” (Guillermo Pfening, Carolina Stegmayer, Madlove, Colombia, Argentina)

“Carropasajero” (Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes, Los Niños Films, Colombia)

“El sargento Paz” (Carlos Gaviria, Producciones Cinego, Colombia)

“Los Niños Díscolos” (Christian Maiguel, Solsticio Audiovisual, Colombia)

“Si no ardemos, cómo iluminar la noche” (Kim Torres, Noche Negra Producciones, Costa Rica)

“Erección” (Esteban Insausti, Audiovisual Atelier, Cuba)

“Viejos malditos” (Xavier Chávez, Perrosobesos, Ecuador, Argentina)

“Intersex” (Alejandro Zuno, Monstro Films, Mexico)

“La luz de la naturaleza” (Yamil Quintana, Nimbus Cine, Mexico)

“Toque de queda” (Rodolfo Pereira, Alquette Producciones, Peru, Brazil

“Los sin nombre” (Valeria Valentina Bolivar, Guasábara cine, Dominican Republic)

“Princesa” (Karine Teles, Bubbles Project, Brazil)

“Delivery Girl” (Jorge Shinno Castillo, La Furia Films, Peru)

“Sonidos Salvajes” “Cristián Dario Pellegrini, Epika Films, Argentina)

“Una canción para mi tierra” (Mauricio Albornoz Iniesta, Cactus Cine, Argentina)

“Nosotros” (Joaquín Ruano, Cine Concepción, Guatemala)

“Alas de gloria” (Joaquín Serrano Otromundo Audiovisual: KiliStudios Paraguay)

“Orquídea” (Pavel Marcano, Septiembre Films, Dominican Republic)

“Pepe, la imaginación en el tercer cine” (Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias, Monte y Culebra, Dominican Republic, Colombia

“Posada” (Ayerim Villanueva, Crisis Cinema Dominican Republic)

“Alicia no está” (Alfonso Amador, Filmeu, Spain)

“Domingo domingo” (Laura García Andreu, Suicafilms, Spain)

“Pobre diablo” (Guillermo Polo, Japonica Films, Spain)

MÁLAGA WORKS IN PROGRESS 2020

“Light-years” (Joaquín Mauad, Anfibia Cine, Uruguay)

“Gilma” (Alexandra Henao, Cromauno Audiovisuales, Venezuela)

“The Flood” (Ezequiel Erríquez, Rita Cine, Argentina)

“Inhabit” (Martín Emiliano Díaz, Entropía Cine Argentina)

“The Accident” (Bruno Carboni, Tokyo Filmes, Brazil)

“Rivers of Ash” (Alberto Gómez Peña, Internado Audiovisual, Colombia)

“Teo” (Víctor Checa Pierrot, Films, Peru)

“Yacáa” (Ramiro Gómez, W Films, Paraguay)

“A Farewell to Memory” (Nicolás Prividera, Trivial Media, Argentina)

“Three of Us” (Constanza Tejo Roa, Molotov Cine, Chile)

“Man of Jaguar” (André Robert, Corte final, Costa Rica)

“Black Out!” (Alejandra Almirón, Sergio Criscolo prods., Argentina)

“Morena(s)” (Victoria Apolinario/Iván de Lara, Karaya Film, Dominican Republic)

“Rebel Objects” (Carolina Arias Ortiz, Mito Producciones, Costa Rica)

“Terra incoognita” (Ignacio Leonidas, Arde Cine, Argentina)

“Amateur” (Martín Gutiérrez, Spain)

“Ane” (David Pérez Sañudo, Amania Films, Spain)

“Uncertain Journey” (Pablo García Pérez de Lara, Producciones Doble Banda, Spain)

“Things to Do Before You Die” (Cristina Fernández Pintado, Miguel Llorens The Fly Hunter, Spain)

“Muyeres” (Marta Lallana, Spain)

“Portrait of White Woman with Grey Hair and Wrinkles” (Iván Ruiz Flores, Potenza Producciones, Spain)

“A Blues for Tehran” (Javier Tolentino, Quatre Films, Spain)

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