Malaga Spanish Film Fest 2007

March 2, 2007–The Malaga Spanish Film Fest showcases Andalusia's Muslim past. With five first features in competition, its 10th edition, running March 9-17, should offer a look at Spain's Nueva Ola.

The hallmark of Spain's last, early 1990s New Wave was updated versions of genre films from Julio Medem, Alejandro Amenabar, and Alex de la Iglesia. Some Spanish debuts are still genre pieces, such as Juan Antonio Bayonas' chiller “The Orphanage,” bought by Picturehouse at Berlin.

But globalization overshadows the Malaga auteurs. Several of this year's first-timers turned in rite-of-passage pics. In Rafa Cortes' identity-theft drama “Me,” which won a Rotterdam Fipresci award, a German gardener retiring in Mallorca assumes a dead man's character.

Felix Viscarret's “Under the Stars” has a washed-up musician returning to his pueblo, and falling for a mother and spunky daughter. Aided by new regional coin — from Navarre, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, Castille and Leon — the Malaga debutants are Spain's first generation to shoot all over the country, not just in Madrid and Barcelona.

Filmmaking brothers David and Tristan Ulloa used the Gijon resort setting of “Pudor” to contrast the open seascapes with characters' failure to open up to each other.

With its new generation, Spanish filmmaking seems to have gained new styles. “Maybe you get a new generation of directors every 15 years. What marks these new films apart is care for form, without forgetting content,” says Simon de Santiago, head of Sogecine/Sogepaq, which sells “Thieves” and “Pudor.”

Rodrigo Cortes' “The Contestant,” a jaundiced take on consumerism, was lensed in three different formats–8mm, Super 16 and video, then digitized. Reflecting globalization, the films show a patchwork of styles and genres.

Viscarret calls “Under the Stars” a “village road movie-cum-Western.” One of the Ulloas' favorite directors is Michael Winterbottom, for his eclecticism.

None of the pics costs more than $3 million. But all come with buzz. Some will no doubt play higher-profile events. A few could get impressive foreign sales.

Last year's Malaga sleeper, first-timer Daniel Sanchez Arevalo's “Dark Blue Almost Black,” a quirky tale of rising above, played at the Venice Film Festival. At Berlin, Sogepaq closed a U.S. deal on “Dark Blue.”

“The new directors' viewpoint is more international,” says Tesela head Jose Antonio Felez, producer of “Pudor” and “Dark Blue.” “And in a globalized world, sentiments are similar in different places. So these films can find audiences abroad.”

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