Málaga Screenings Renews Launches Regional Film Hub

The Málaga Festival’s Spanish Screenings, the only dedicated Spanish film sales and promotion market in Spain, is determined to grow, adapting to industry’s demands for its 15th edition, which will run Oct. 20-23.

Part of Málaga’s far larger Málaga Festival Industry Zone (MAFIZ) umbrella of initiatives, the Spanish Screenings will host for the first time ever a Regional Film Hub, aimed at giving Spanish regions a space from which to promote their films.

Málaga’s industrial centerpiece will also renew its sidebar Next From Spain, offering exhaustive information of the Spanish film releases scheduled for 2022 and 2023, meeting an increasing demand.

“Next From Spain and Neocine-Málaga sections have been for many years at the service of Spanish producers, providing them with a space to screen trailers/teasers of their next films. Spanish Screenings 2021 now responds to the demand of buyers, festival programmers and national and international distributors, informing about the Spanish cinema that is to come,” said Juan Antonio Vigar, Málaga Film Festival director.

Facing a necessary growth effort to meet international industry requests, the Spanish Screenings will be inviting executives from the streaming platforms to participate more actively in the Spanish film market, reacting to the increasing appetite for Spanish-language films by the streamers.

“Our short-term goal is to increase profiles, encompassing pay, televisions and digital creators platforms,” Vigar said.

Further highlights of the Spanish Screenings upcoming edition take in Hack MAFIZ Málaga section, aimed at digital creators from Spain and Latin America. Fifteen of them will enjoy the opportunity of meeting with Iberoamerican film industry leaders at the Málaga Festival next year’s edition.

A municipal entity, Málaga Procultura integrates both the Malaga Film Festival and the Málaga Film Office, also headed by Vigar, who has constantly innovated since taking over the Málaga Festival’s reins in 2013.

Recent international shoots in Málaga are films such as “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” “Operation Mincemeat” and “True Things About Me,” plus series such as “Warrior Nun” and Season 4 of “The Crown.”

Variety spoke with Vigar about the Spanish Screenings 2021’s main changes and how the Málaga Film Office, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, has recovered its lensing activity, rapidly shrinking the impact of the pandemic lockdown…

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Málaga Festival’s Spanish Screenings
Photographer: Koke Perez

Does the launch of Regional Film Hub mark a recognition of the growing importance of regions in film production financing in Spain?

Spain is diverse, defined by different cultural and linguistic identities, which are reflected in its regional film. The regions bet on and finance their film and need their own space to promote the films they support. For this reason, Spanish Screenings, the platform for the sale and promotion of Spanish cinema, will offer this year a new space for Spanish film institutes to screen the movies they supported. In this way, Regional Film Hub will be a new platform for the promotion and diffusion of the cinema of the different Spanish communities.

How will the Next From Spain sidebar help to promote projects?

Next From Spain will screen teasers, trailers and 10-minute cuts and will offer a catalog with detailed information on when a Work in Progress version and a completed film will be available. The development of this new tool will facilitate the distributors’ work and help these productions’ international promotion and find both national and international distribution.

A further challenge for the 2021 edition is to strengthen the presence of streaming buyers…

In recent years the audiovisual industry has radically changed, new production formats have emerged and therefore new professionals in the international market. It is no longer only feature films that are sold; Spain is becoming a benchmark in series, documentaries and animation production and also in digital creators and talent.

Spanish Screenings, as the only official Spanish audiovisual market, is forced to grow and evolve to adapt to what the international industry now demands and, therefore, new and urgent needs arise in its organization and logistics to place this project on a competitive level with other international markets that strongly support their respective films.

It is important to look at streaming platforms and invite them to participate more actively in the Spanish film market. The Spanish sales agents demand their participation and we have to respond to this demand because Spanish Screenings is a market at the service of the sector and our films’ international distribution.

Why have you set up Hack MAFIZ Málaga?

Hack MAFIZ Málaga is a new bet aimed at digital creators. With this initiative, the Málaga Festival faces the sector’s challenge of reaching new audiences who consume audiovisual content through very diverse channels and have a community identity that requires a much more active dialogue on the part of creators and content producers. Hack MAFIZ Málaga allows us to reach several objectives: to create a seedbed of talent; generate new audiences; dialogue with creators; make known new talent to industrial players and see them in action.

Málaga Film Office’s activity grew 2% last year, despite the pandemic. Could you explain that growth?

Indeed, in 2020 it experienced a 2% increase in the number of shoots served, 426 audiovisual projects in total. The growth obeyed several factors. One of them is that production companies are not only interested in Malaga for its natural benefits (climate, locations), but also for its great professionals and companies in the sector, who have demonstrated the technical and creative quality of the Málaga industry and because they know that the City Council understands what a production is and implies and therefore that filming in Malaga is easy, fast and flexible.

That increase has also been possible thanks to the recovery of activity in the second half, since many of the audiovisual projects that had been postponed by the pandemic began to be carried out. But we also aroused the interest of new projects, generated by the increase in audiovisual consumption on streaming platforms. Compensating the first six months, and finally obtaining a positive yearly balance despite the circumstances.

Can you explain the management model applied by Málaga Film Office and its impact over the years?

It is a model based on experience, on the fact that in these 20 years it has attended more than 6,000 shoots. Malaga Film Office has become a focus for attracting investment. In fact, the activity carried out by this office from its start-up has meant a investment of more than €93 million ($109 million) total budget invested directly in the city between September 2001 and June 2021, demonstrating it performs as a key instrument for Málaga’s economic revitalization.

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