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INDUSTRY France / Spain

Close look at Franco-Spanish relations

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Cineuropa posed three questions to Delphine Martin, head of research and distributor relations for Spain at Unifrance, at the 3rd Franco-Spanish Film Meetings organised in Paris from January 12-13 (see news).

What is the situation with co-productions between France and Spain?
Since the 13 co-productions in 2006, there has been a downward trend (five in 2008), despite the flexibility of the bilateral agreement. The two cultures are not too different and the level of production is quite high in both countries, but the average budgets are not comparable and it’s often difficult for a Spanish company to get involved in a major French production because the necessary investment threshold of 10% represents a lot of money.

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Moreover, in terms of film genre, Spain and France don’t necessarily work in the same areas. However, the revival in France of genre cinema, which is very popular in Spain, is an avenue of work to follow closely. And it would appear that lots of French/Spanish co-production projects are currently in development, or even have funding already.

What is the situation in terms of distribution of French films in Spain and Spanish films in France?
It’s really unbalanced. Spain is one of the most important markets for French cinema, which garners an annual average of 5m admissions with 45-55 very diverse releases (including recent hits Welcome to the Sticks [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Coco Before Chanel [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, The Class [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carole Scotta
interview: Laurent Cantet
film profile
]
, Séraphine [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and The Hedgehog [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
). But the high level of piracy and the sharp drop in TV broadcasting of films in Spain means that the risk-taking for distributors is concentrated almost exclusively on theatrical releases.

On the contrary, only 10-15 Spanish features are released every year in France with results dominated by major filmmakers such as Pedro Almodóvar and Álex de la Iglesia. Nevertheless, genre films (such as Rec [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
interview: Julio Fernández
film profile
]
), at which Spanish filmmakers excel, are also starting to enjoy success in France.

How can we improve relations between the film industries in both countries?
Most importantly, professionals need to get to know each other. The Franco-Spanish Film Meetings have come a long way and this third edition is much less theoretical that the first two, in particular as regards the fight against piracy and solutions for improving film financing. You also need to prepare in advance, focusing in particular on the screenplay stage, for it isn’t just a matter of finding financial partners and stakeholder backing for example, but, above all, you have to find a real coherence.

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(Translated from French)

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