Thursday, 28 August 2008

Chicago & the spirit of the forest

David Rubin & Juan Carlos Pena’s The Spirit of the Forest has been selected for participation at the 35th anniversary edition of the Chicago International Children's Film Festival (CICFF), to be held in Chicago from October, 23rd to November, 2nd.

This is the third 3D animation feature film of Galician production company Dygra. The English version submitted to CICFF includes among the cast the voices of Anjelica Huston, Ron Perlman, Sean Astin or Giovanni Ribisi among others.

The Chicago International Children's Film Festival is the largest festival of films for children in North America, featuring over 200 films from 40 countries. Besides, CICFF is commited to cultural diversity, non-violence and value affirming new cinema for children, and is the only children's film festival to be an Academy Award Qualifying Festival.

Dygra’s first 3D animation film The Living Forest received the Children's Jury Award for the best animated feature film at the CICFF’s 2002 edition.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Pradolongo travels to San Sebastian

Ignacio Villar’s Pradolongo has been selected for participation at the Made in Spain section of the 56th San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Made in Spain offers an overview of the most interesting productions released in Spain in 2008. Pradolongo will be in theaters all around Spain next October, and San Sebastian offers an excellent international launching pad for the film.

Ignacio: First was Galicia, next Spain, and then the world!

A bloody bastard’s world tour

Javi Camino’s ¡Maldito Bastardo! (Bloody Bastard!) continues its tour around the world. This time, the film has been the only Spanish film selected for the official section of BUTFF, the B-movie, Underground and Trash Film Festival to be held in Breda, Holland from September, 18th and September 21st.

This festival collects for the Dutch audience the most rare and bizarre production this side of the Milky Way. No doubt that ¡Maldito Bastardo! deserves a place among them.

Congratulations again, Javi!

Ourense hosts Blind Sunflowers’ world première

José Luis Cuerda’s Los Girasoles Ciegos (The Blind Sunflowers) was presented yesterday at Ourense’s City Auditorium. More than 1,000 people attended this event, including the cast of the movie, Maribel Verdú, Javier Cámara, Raúl Arévalo and Roger Princip among them. After all, it is not usual for Galicia to host world premières of major films like this.

Los Girasoles Ciegos, an adaptation of the eponymous novel from Alberto Méndez, tells the story of a family that tries to keep a dangerous secret as the world turns upside down around them. The film offers a master’s re-creation of the Spanish atmosphere just after the Spanish civil war from the point of view of the Republican survivors.

The film was shot in several locations in the Galician province of Ourense, Segovia and Madrid. Los Girasoles Ciegos is also one of the first productions supported by Sempre Cinema Producións SL, a partnership between the Galician government and the private financial institution CaixaGalicia that contributes to the consolidation of projects participated by other Galician producers.

The film have been selected for participation at the TIFF'08 Toronto International Film Festival's Contemporary World Cinema section. Spanish sales company Sogepaq will handle international rights outside Spain to Los Girasoles Ciegos.

Mucha suerte, José Luis. La película lo merece.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The House of Light on Location

Carlos Amil’s A Casa da Luz (The House of Light) is being shot in several locations in Galicia, Betanzos and Ferrol among them. This film is based on the novel of the same title written by the 1995 national literary prize Xabier Docampo, and tells the story of Alicia and her friends Álvaro, Amadeo, Anxo, Alba and Lucrecia in and unknown and mysterious world.

A Casa da Luz is the first real-image feature film for kids shot entirely in Galician.

On location: Agallas

Andrés Luque & Samuel Martín Mateos’ black comedy Agallas (Guts) is being shot at the El Bosque complex, near the Cecebre dam in Cambre, A Coruña. Agallas is the story of a young man who, after being released from prison, tries by all means to be at the top of the drug business.

The Agallas cast includes renowned Galician actors Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo, Isabel Blanco or musician Tonhito de Poi, and Spanish actors Carmelo Gómez and Hugo Silva.

Tagline: When you think that you are at the top, there is always somebody quicker, meaner, and crueler.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Fancy being a financial producer?

Artefacto Producciones, producer of Fernando Cortizo’s animation film O Apóstolo (The Apostle), has just presented an alternate and innovative Web-based form of seeking funding to produce this project. Artefacto offers shares of the film through its web portal. Anybody can be a financial producer for just 30 euro!

O Apostolo is a plasticine® animation film set at the Way of St. James, a mystery and horror story with the voices of renowned Galician and Spanish actors Carlos Blanco, Xosé Manuel Pico Olveira, Luís Tosar, Celso Bugallo, Héctor Alterio and Gabino Diego. O Apóstolo is the first stop-motion full feature film produced in Spain.

If you are interested in co-producing this film, please click here. For less than two shots of whisky you can become a financial producer!

Galician Bloody Bastard goes to Bloomington, IN

Javi Camino’s ¡Maldito Bastardo! (Bloody Bastard!) has just been selected for participation at the official section of the Dark Carnival Film Fest, perhaps one of the most renowned independent horror cinema festivals in the US. The Dark Carnival Film Fest will take place from September 16th to September 21st in Bloomington, Indiana. This is the first time a Spanish film is included in this festival’s program.

By the way, ¡Maldito Bastardo! received the best film award at the Italian Fearmament festival.

Congratulations, Javi!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Commission rules for film and TV production and the Cultural Test

A debate is open in Galicia on which kind of audiovisual projects are eligible for public support. On one side, some argue that the focus should be put in independent projects with a clear cultural bias. On the other side, some point out that public funding should be used to promote initiatives with a clear industrial vocation in order to maximize the commercial success of the supported projects.

All in all, this is again the old and only debate: culture versus industry; the “parallel world” versus “commercial coproduction first”; art versus entertainment.

Indeed, the debate is so old that almost everybody has forgotten the starting point. Arguments have become so entangled that basic principles are not taken into account anymore. These basic principles have been established by the European Commission insofar public aids are concerned (please note the “musts”):
  • State aid is permitted only if it does not affect trade and competition in the Single Market.
  • Public aids must benefit a cultural product. Each Member State must ensure that the content of the aided production is cultural according to verifiable national criteria.
  • The producer must be free to spend at least 20% of the production budget in other Member States without suffering any reduction in the aid provided for under the scheme (so-called ‘territorialisation clauses’).
  • The aid intensity in principle must be limited to 50% of the production budget (except for difficult and low budget films).
  • Aid supplements for specific film-making activities are not allowed (e.g. distribution)

These rules establish the “Legality Test” for public aids all around the European Union. On the other side, the Commission has approved the UK film tax incentive scheme a.k.a. the “Cultural Test”. The UK scheme establishes a de-facto protocol to assess the eligibility of audiovisual projects for funding compatible with EU regulations. The Cultural Test can be seen as a set of rules of thumb, as the basis of comparison, to select projects for funding according to the following items:

  • Cultural content ( film set in the UK, lead characters British citizens or residents, film based on British subject matter or underlying material, original dialogue recorded mainly in English language).
  • Cultural contribution (Film represents/reflects a diverse British culture, British heritage or British creativity).
  • Cultural hubs (studio and/or location shooting/ Visual Effects/ Special Effects, Music Recording/Audio Post Production/Picture Post Production).
  • Cultural practitioners (director, scriptwriter, producer, composer, lead actors, lead cinematographer, lead production designer, lead costume designer, lead editor, lead sound designer, lead visual effects supervisor, lead hair and makeup supervisor, majority of cast, majority of crew).

Replace above British/UK with Galician/Galicia and you have a Galician Cultural Test compatible with EU rules and regulations.

DTV Potential

Galicia, as most countries in Europe, is experiencing the conversion of analog terrestrial television to digital television – DTV, DVB-T, or TDT as it is known in Spanish and Galician.

The most important improvement is in the number of programs freely available. Broadcasters will not use the former entire bandwidth for an analog channel to broadcast just one program. Instead the broadcast channel has been subdivided in Spain across four video subchannels of a quality similar to the former single analog channel, including a non-video datacasting service that allows one-way high-bandwidth streaming of data. As a consequence, the existing six nationwide and one Galician free-to-air TV programs are replaced by 24 nationwide and 4 Galician digital programs.

Each former broadcaster, public or private, has now to fill in four programming grids instead of one – exceptions apply, but I will not bother you with them. Thus, the big question is how to fill the new programming grids and keep costs compatible with the former income model, as funding sources do not seem to increase at the same rate!

One of the strategies seems to be to reschedule old TV shows and movies, which in turn allow us to revisit them without buying a cable subscription or a direct TV satellite dish. This obviously improves the zapping experience, as now you can unexpectedly encounter gems like The Magnificent Seven – yesterday in Antena Nova – or an almost forgotten documentary about the freakiest freak of Galician filmmakers Amando de Ossorio – the day before yesterday in Galicia TV.

Current DTV population coverage in Galicia is over 93%. Analog switch off is scheduled for April, 2010 in most parts of Galicia, although the areas of Santiago de Compostela and Ourense Este will complete the transition to DTV in June, 2009. The completion of the transition process has to guarantee coverage figures similar to the former analog situation, that is, over 98% of the Galician population.

Welcome DTV!