CAA Media Finance, Spain’s San Sebastian Festival Launch Creative Investors’ Conference

Co-organized with CAA Media Finance, a new San Sebastian Festival Creative Investors’ Conference will see many of the good and great of the international film business descend on September’s fest edition to be pitched 10 higher-budget Spanish movies by their producers. 

The Conference will run Sept.19-20. In a cosmopolitan lineup, titles pitched include international co-productions such as “Whalemen (At the Ends of the Earth)” from “Everest” director Baltasar Kormákur as well as the latest from “Amama” helmer Asier Altuna and “Raqa,” from Gerardo Herrero, an Academy Award wining producer for “The Secret in Their Eyes.”  

The conference’s high-profile international investors, producers, agents and executives take in MUBI’s Bobby Allen, Piers Wenger at A24 Europe, Focus Features’s Kiska Higgs, 30West’s Trevor Groth, Vincent Maraval at Wild Bunch International and Netflix’s Teresa Moneo.

Also confirmed are the Elysian Film Group’s Danny Perkins, Neon CEO Tom Quinn, Cinetic Media’s John Sloss, Killer Films’ Christine Vachon, Patrick Wachsberger at Picture Perfect Entertainment and Participant Media’s Rob Williams.

CAA Media Finance’s Roeg Sutherland, Benjamin Kramer and Sarah Schweitzman will attend the conference and moderate sessions, along with conference co-curator and San Sebastian Festival consultant Wendy Mitchell.

The event includes keynote talks, in-depth case studies of top Spanish productions, panel discussions on current industry trends, technology innovations for storytellers and opportunities created by the rise of the streaming platforms. 

The Creative Investors Conference forms part of  Spanish Screenings XXL, a three-stage market organised under the aegis of Spain’s post-pandemic Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR) to convert Spain into one of Europe’s preeminent film-TV hubs.

It also comes as, post pandemic, given the weakness of Spain’s posy COVID box office recovery, producers now battle to raise financing from Spain on projects budgeted at much above $2 million-$3 million. The only alternative for larger movies is either platform co-finance or international investment.   

A brief breakdown of titles  to be pitched at the Conference: 

“Azahar Baby,” (Swel Noury Cazorla, Morocco)

One of the first projects out of the gate at Madrid-based Two Flavours Productions, set up in 2019 by two key figures on the Morocco-Spain film-TV axis, producer Sonia Ziadi Trives and Swel Noury, co-director of the Berlin Panorma-selected “Heaven’s Doors” and Dubai-prized “The Man Who Sold the World.”

“Evolution,” (Julio Soto, Spain)

A second animated feature from Soto, who debuted with undersea toon escapade “Deep,” and his studio, The Thinklab Media, relocated to his native Navarra. In it, an alien substance blends a young Zoe’s DNA with that of her pets, creating a team of intelligent animals led by the wild girl.

“Karmele,” (Asier Altuna, Spain, France)

Produced by Txintxua Films, whose “Intimacy” shot to global No. 1 on Netflix non-English series charts, a historical drama of Basque exile, espionage and a battling central female character, kicking off with Spain’s ghastly Civil War and stretching down the decades. From top Basque director Asier  Altuna (“Aupa Etxebeste!” “Amama”). 

“Monsters,” (“La Monstrua,” Lluis Danés Roca, Spain)

From Danés, director of “The Barcelona Vampiress,” a Sitges 2020 Audience Winner and probing take on an urban legend, and Barcelona studio Filmax, a powerhouse distributor and sales agent on multiple Spanish titles each year and producer of “[REC],” “The Machinist” and “Truman.”  

“Oh, Nora,” (Aina Clotet, Ikiru Films, Spain)

The directorial feature debut of screenwriter-actress Clotet, who co-wrote “If Then Else,” with Berlin Golden Bear winner Carla Simón (“Alcarràs”), a tale of emotional dependency as woman falls for a much younger man.   

“Raqa,” (“Raqqa,” Gerardo Herrero, Spain)

The latest from Oscar-winning producer Herrero (“The Secret in Their Eyes”), whose films as a director have competed at Berlin (“Comanche Territory”) and San Sebastian “Frontera Sur”),  winning Málaga’s top prize (“Rough Winds”) and at Special Jury Prize at Valladolid (“Friends Have Reasons”).  

“Rock Bottom,” (Maria Trenor Colomer, Spain)

One of Spain’s most singular animation projects, from  respected Spanish animation director Trenor, winner of a Berlinale Teddy Award for 2004’s short “With What Shall I Wash It?” A mix of 2D and 3D, the love story of Bob and Alif, two artists caught in the creative whirlwind of the early ‘70s, inspired by the early life and acclaimed 1973 art rock album of ex-Soft Machine vocalist-drummer Robert Wyatt. Produced by multi-prized director-producer Alba Sotorra (“El retorn: La vida després de l’ISIS”).

“The Secret of the Magi,” (“El secreto de los Reyes Magos,” Javier Dampierre, Nacho Sánchez Quevedo, Spain)

This mainstream animated feature won Spain’s 2020 SGAE Screenplay Prize and is billed as an “epic Christmas adventure in the style of ‘80s movies.” One of Spain’s boldest production companies, Arcadia Motion Pictures, behind Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Cannes player “The Beasts.”  

“A Whale,” (“Una ballena,” Pablo Hernado Esquisabel, Spain, Italy)

Backed by energetic Basque outfit Señor y Señora, an awaited fantasy crime thriller melding noir, science fiction and experimental cinema, says producer Leire Apellaniz, directed by Hernado who turned heads with his feature debut “Berseker.”

“Whalemen (At the Ends of the Earth),” (“Baleazaleak,” Baltasar Kormákur, Spain, Iceland, U.K.)

Helmed by Kormákur (“Everest,” “Adrift”), just back as a director with Idris Elba starrer “Beast,” and set up at Eduardo Carneros’ Biskaia-based Euskadi Movie, a much more developed and larger scale version of the true facts based historical crime thriller, then called “Red Fjords,” which moved waves when unveiled at 2016’s San Sebastian Festival. With Bizkaia prepping up-to-70% tax incentives and Kormákur on board, it could be one of the biggest Basque movies in history. 


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