Saturday, 22 September 2007

From Toulouse to Bogotá

The presence of Galician films at international films festivals keeps growing.

Azucena Rodríguez’s Atlas de xeografía humana will participate at the CineSpaña Festival to be held in Toulouse from September 28th to October 7th. This film is base on a film from Almudena Grandes.

Mario IglesiasDe Bares will be the only Spanish film selected for competition at the 24th edition of the Festival de Cine de Bogotá. This film, shot in Pontevedra, will compete for the Precolombino de Oro prize. This festival will be held in Bogotá, Colombia from October 3rd to October 11th.

Galicia at San Sebastian

This year no Galician production has been selected for competition. However, this does not mean that Galicia will not be present at the 55th International Film Festival at all!

Three Galician films have been included in Made in Spain (20% of films in this section, not a bad figure). They are Unha muller invisible, De profundis and Bolboreta, mariposa, papallona. Part of Horizontes Latinos, Made in Spain offers to press agents and buyers a rigorous selection of the year's most interesting Spanish productions in close co-ordination with the festival’s Sales Office. Let us hope that Made in Spain opens the door to new market opportunities for these films!

The Galician Audiovisual Consortium, DG Audiovisual Communication and Foro Galego do Audiovisual organize the Happy Hour Galicia Terra de Cine at the Kursaal’s Press room. This promotion event will be conducted by Galician actors María Castro and Manuel Lozano.

The festival will present a retrospective on Philippe Garrel and will publish a book on his work in collaboration with the Basque Film Archive and the CGAI Galician Center of Image Arts, coordinated by Quim Casas and written by various authors. The retrospective will also be shown in Galicia at the CGAI theater.

Galicia will also participate in the Spain Film Commission meeting, the Ancine Cinema do Brasil meeting, and the annual meeting of the Raices co-production fund, promoted by Galicia, Catalonia, Argentina and Andalusia. During this meeting, the projects to be funded for the next year will be selected.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Frank Braña, Romero Merchant, and Roman Walls

The Lugo’s 39th International Author’s Cinema Week takes place this week. This year’s program includes two special sections dedicated to two of the most relevant figures of Spanish cinema: Rafael Romero Marchent and Frank Braña (at least for an Alan Smithee's standards).

Frank Braña (1934) a.k.a. Frank Blank, Francisco Brama, Francisco Brana, Franck Brana, Frank Brana, Frank Branya, Francisco Braña or Paco Braña is one of the most prolific Spanish actors. To write down a complete list of his films is practically impossible. Apart from his many aliases, he was not credited in many films. In any case, he has been confirmed to appear in more than 200 movies, almost always in a supporting role. He died in more than 100 films, being reputed as the best dying actor in Spain. Frank Braña was born in Asturias, although he spent most of his childhood in Fonsagrada, Galicia.

He participated in many of the worst films produced in Spain between 1972 and 1980, in turn one of the worst periods in Spanish filmmaking (S-rated films, late spaghetti westerns, chorizo westerns, Z series horror movies, …). However, some gems could be saved from his prolific filmography:

· La muerte tenía un precio
· El hombre que mató a Billy el Niño
· El bueno el feo y el malo
· Perros Callejeros
· Cañas y Barro

Spanish director Rafael Romero Marchent's (1926) philosophy of life drove his extended career in Spanish cinema: A film director must know all other filmaking jobs. He worked as performing actor, dubbing actor, famous actress’s boyfriend, writer, and many other technical functions. He has around 60 films in his curriculum (many of them completely forgettable, btw), but he also was the alma mater behind two TV shows that are basic milestones of the Spanish transition to democracy: Curro Jiménez and Cañas y Barro.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Burgers and Crêpes Suzette to nurture audiovisual talent

From the appearance, almost a decade ago, of the seminal reality show format Big Brother, TV format designers have been proposing recurring versions of the show along the last years. Galician pilgrims, to-be singing stars, future fashion models, tobacco addicts… almost every candidate to rapid popularity can find his or her niche in one or another TV channel.

On August 21st, in my way to Montreal, it was aired the last chapter of On the Lot, a kind of variant of American Idol from Fox TV produced by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett. It is about a competition among to-be-filmmakers for a one millon dollar prize covering the production costs of a movie with Dream Works, plus the mentorship of Steven Spielberg.

The final winner for 2007 was Will Bigham, a film editor originally from Canyon, TX, currently living in Glendale, CA. Bigham attended the Florida State University’s Film School.

For a Galician like me, this show points out how important are economies of scale in filmmaking. The show started with a casting of around 12,000 candidates from all around the world to make a first selection of 50 people, selection that was refined to appoint a final winner. Probably, most participants will earn a career in filmmaking or at TV, if not already in the show business. A taxy driver from New York told me this summer that between 800 and 1,000 films were shot anually only at the Big Apple, most of them never reaching the movie theaters. Note that most funding for audiovisual production in the States come from the private sector, which obviously will try to get the most from their investments. My conclusion, expressed as two rethorical questions:

Taking into account the number of good films that come from the states, and the lot of resources (human, financial) that are consumed to produce them, How many good films can be produced in Galicia on itself? Does anybody think that co-producing is not a neccessity?

The one million dollar prize was intended to finance the production of an independent film with Dream Works. How this compare with the usual budget of Galician independent productions of similar characteristics?

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Chroniques Québécoises

This summer I had the chance of visiting the Montreal World Film Festival. This year, two Galician productions participated in this event, The Mud Boy was selected to compete for the Zenith to the best first fiction feature film, and The Lesser Evil, which was selected among the Focus on World Cinema films. During this trip, I had the chance to meet some interesting people from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and to visit a reference institution for the Galician audiovisual sector, the Cinémathèque Québécoise, a peer institution of Galician CGAI Centro Galego de Artes da Imaxe.

I was invited to participate in the premier of The Mud Boy at the Cinémas du Quartier Latin with Director Jorge Algora and producer Susana Maceiras. This film is a Galician-Catalonian-Argentinean co-production financed by the Raices audiovisual fund.

That night I had also the chance of share a glass of wine with Spanish journalist Javier Angulo, Carmelo Romero (chief officer of the Malaga Film Market), Mexican Jorge Sánchez Sosa (General Director of the Guadalajara International Film Festival, Serge Losique (President of the festival’s Board of Directors), and Danielle Cauchard (General Director of the festival) among others.

We agreed that this festival is a good opportunity to promote Spanish cinema in general, and Galician cinema in particular. This edition, Spain was the third country insofar selected films is concerned after Canada and France, and Spanish films were among the most acclamed films programmed.

More than 1,000 people enjoyed The Mud Boy at Montreal, the theater being almost full every time it was shown.

The other Galician production, a 100% Galician production from Voz Audiovisual, was also a success. I only had the chance to assist to the international premiere on August, 29th. Again, a practically full theatre and a wonderful response from the audience.

As said, I also had the chance to visit the Quebec Film Archives, where I tried to gather some information about the Canadian support to the audiovisual sector, and more specifically, the public support to French speaking films.

Basically, there are two institutions that contribute to the support to audiovisual production at Quebec: SODEC (Society for the Development of Cultural Enterprises of Quebec), and Téléfilm Canada, the latter with a Canadian scope.

SODEC supports the cultural industry in general, and therefore the audiovisual industry. It supports original script writing, short film and feature film production, documentary film production, promotion of film and TV production, exports and international presence, and the promotion of Quebec’s film locations. SODEC provides financial support, fiscal support, and capital investments in audiovisual enterprises.

Téléfilm Canada is devoted primarily to commercial audiovisual. TC was initially targeted to film production, but was lately reoriented towards TV production. Present time support programs of TC consist of capital funds.

To sum up, Canadian public support to the audiovisual sector in Quebec is made up from complementary approaches at several levels: from a culture stance (SODEC) and a communication stance (TC); as capital grants and as capital funds; production-oriented and promotion-oriented… No doubt is an interesting model to study further.