Spain Revs Up Co-Production as Public Funding Builds

Spain Revs Up Co-Production as Public Funding Builds

February 17, 2023

Spain has found a place on the global film industry’s radar as an attractive market for co-producing projects, boosted by its bigger-than-ever-public-sector funding.

The trend comes in a moment of maturity for its audiovisual industry, with competitive tax incentives and the emergence of fresh talent, often female, whether directors or producers. Unlike U.S. indie producers, hard hit by streamers pulling back, European counterparts still have public sector financing.

But to make movies of any artistic ambition, which might justify that funding and break out to foreign sales and a theatrical release, producers are looking overseas more and to other parts of Spain for production partners.

Co-production is booming. Only last year, Spain co-produced 70 films, beating its average production for the period 2018-2022 of 256 titles,   according to Spanish film agency ICAA.  

ICAA’s selective aid for movie production reached €20 million ($21.48 million). Of that, a minimum 5% went to support minority co-productions.

Allowing a maximum amount of $322,167 per project, it’s been especially useful when it comes to establishing alliances with Latin America.

It is foreseeable that ICAA’s minority co-production aid will rise this year, given the agency’s fund has increased 53% to $114.91 million.

In addition, the Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises (ICEC) operates a $1.61 million minority co-production fund whose maximum is also $322,167 per title.

Regional film production support from the Basque Country, Galicia and Andalusia are also very active. And this quarter, the Canary Islands plan to   launch a $1.1 million fund for minority co-productions, with a $161,084 maximum per project, says Canary Islands Film coordinator, Natacha Mora.

“There is starting to be a vocation from public institutions to offer Spanish producers more and more variants that make them more competitive when participating in co-production projects,” says José Esteban Alenda at Solita Films.

“Co-production incentives allow us to create a very interesting reciprocity in terms of the global market — we no longer only offer content but we can also receive content and offer financing,” says Valérie Delpierre at Catalonia’s Inicia Films, producer of standout art films such as Carla Simón’s debut, “Summer 1993,” Pilar Palomero’s “Schoolgirls” and “La Maternal.”

Inicia, also a co-producer of Estíbaliz Urresola’s Berlinale con- tender “20,000 Species of Bees” alongside Lara Izagirre’s Basque outfit Gariza Films, is producing Klaudia Reynicke’s teenage drama “Reinas,” awarded by ICEC’s minority co-production fund, with Perú’s Materazo Cine and Swiss Alva Films.

With the added benefit of sharing language and a natural exchange of creative and technical talent, the Spanish co-production funds have become a highly attractive financing option for Latin American projects, boosting their often more modest film budgets.

“Co-production brings a natural creative element: you end up having films that are enriched without losing the director’s point of view,” points out Olmo Figueredo, co-founder of La Claqueta, producer of Venezuelan director Patricia Ortega’s Sundance player “Mamacruz.”

After co-producing Costa Rican Antonella Sudasassi’s “The Awakening of the Ants,” which world premiered in 2019 at Berlinale’s Forum, Madrid-based Solita is building “a stable and priority bridge” with Latin America.

Recent Solita co-productions take in Puerto Rican Glorimar Marrero’s Sundance player “The Fishbowl”; Argentine Maria Zanetti’s “Alemania”; and Jenifer de la Rosa’s documentary “Hija del volcán,” with Mexico’s Mayéutica. “Suddenly, Spain has become a desirable market for companies from other territories,” says Stefan Schmitz, founder of top local arthouse Avalon, which recently co-produced Carla Simon’s 2022 Golden Bear winner, “Alcarrás,” and released it in Spain.

“Internationally co-production is rewarded through initiatives such as European Slate Development if it has an international orientation, either through a co-producer or a sales agent,” Schmitz says.

On “Alcarrás,” Italy’s Kino Produzioni helped to win Eurimages funds and brought Italian minority co-production aid to the table.

Another recurring financing source for Iberoamerica — Latin America, Spain and Portugal — is Ibermedia, the territory’s biggest dedicated film fund.

The international co-producer can help with the lensing if it is outside of Spain and bring creative and industrial elements, but also can open new markets.

“If you have a French co-producer, the most normal thing is for it to contribute a French distributor, which will help the film to have a presence in French festivals, including Cannes,” Schmitz says.

This year, Madrid-based Avalon presents Álvaro Gago’s “Matria,” co-produced with Galicia’s Matriuska, Catalonia’s Ringo Media and Valencia’s Elástica Films, at Berlin’s Panorama.

Avalon is also co-producing, with Catalonia’s Vayolet Films, Ian de la Rosa’s debut, “Iván & Hadoum,” presented at the Berlinale Co-Production Market, also part of the strong Spanish presence at this year’s Berlinale.

“Regional co-productions have grown a lot in recent years, offering multiple financing combinations,” Figueredo says.

A 20-year-old Seville-based company, La Claqueta has established strong regional connections. It has already co-produced four features with Basque Country’s Irusoin — among them, Spain’s Oscar submission, multi- award winning “The Endless Trench,” and David Pérez-Sañudo’s upcoming film “Los últimos románticos.”

In Catalonia, La Claqueta has partnered with Un Capricho for Rocío Mesa’s 2023 SXSW player “Secaderos” and with Oberon in “The Turtles,” by San Sebastian’s New Director winner Belén Funes. Despite a decline in film co-finance by top private TV broad- casters and restricted access to global streamers for arthouse titles, support from public funding is galvanizing co-production, generating a more competitive indie film sector.

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