’We’re Experiencing a Post-Cannes Effect,’ Says Head Alberto Valverde (EXCLUSIVE) : Madrid Co-Pro Market ECAM Forum Awaits 300 + Delegates

Programmers from Sundance, Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto, and Rotterdam, sales agents such as Goodfellas and Coproduction Office and U

Published Time: 05.06.2024 - 11:31:25 Modified Time: 05.06.2024 - 11:31:25

Programmers from Sundance, Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, Toronto, and Rotterdam, sales agents such as Goodfellas and Coproduction Office and U.S. distributor Magnify Pictures are among 50 top international guests expected at the inaugural ECAM Forum co-production market in Madrid, which is due to unspool June 10-14.

More than 300 delegates have signed up for the co-pro event where a curated slate of 37 Spanish, Latin American and international films and series will compete for the best project, including the next Lois Patiño (“Samsara”), Pablo Hernando (“Berserker”), Belén Funes (“A Thief’s Daughter”) and Sergi Perez (“The Long Way Home”).

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Other highlights include masterclasses from U.S. indie mogul Ted Hope, and France’s illustrious cinematographer Hélène Louvart, a regular Alice Rohrwacher and Karim Aïnouz collaborator, and Silver Bear winner 2023 for “Disco Boy.”

In this exclusive interview, ECAM Forum’s coordinator Alberto Valverde maps out the full program of the latest industry initiative of Madrid’s ECAM film school, after its renowned Incubator lab.

You have an impressive lineup of 37 film and series projects as well as more than 300 top local and international professionals who’ve signed up for ECAM Forum. Were you expecting such a catch for your first edition?

We are experiencing a bit of a post-Cannes effect! Many producers and professionals have been told during Cannes that this will be a must-attend event, and they are asking us until the very last minute to register. We’ve just received for instance a request from MK2 in France, so it’s good sign!

ECAM Forum was never conceived as a massive market but rather as a carefully-curated and friendly co-production showcase, where talents and professionals from Spain and beyond, could network with international decision-makers and present their projects. We are very happy with the numbers of accredited professionals but in particular with the quality and profile of people attending. It does exceed our expectations.

Did you send your invitations with a wish to attract potential co-producers and financial partners beyond the natural and usual partners from Latin America, Portugal or France?

We paid a lot of attention to detail, and to company profiles. We looked for people who had already co-produced with Spain, or who could be interested in co-producing with Spain-based on their credentials and editorial line.

We did look for new European territories, like Scandinavia, and we hope in the future to widen our catch to the Baltics. Beyond Europe, we focused on Latin America and North America and are extremely happy with the number and type of professionals who’ve signed up.

Could you reiterate why the film school ECAM decided to launch this very targeted co-production showcase and who is backing you?

We are grateful to the Comunidad de Madrid Autononous Community of Madrid, our main financial partner. We also collaborate with key cultural centres in Madrid-Matadero and Cineteca, as well as Madrid Film Office, Film Madrid and the copyrights entity DAMA.

ECAM being a Foundation, it enables us to be more than a school. This is why we also have a literacy department and an industry department. Our mission is to educate, train young talent, as well as promote them. Going a step further, we’ve connected the school and Spanish talents and professionals with the global industry. This was the reasons why we set up the Incubator, and now ECAM Forum. It was in response to industry needs.

We are a facilitating tool to bridge the gap between the Spanish audiovisual sector and the international community, and here to help producers and talent hone their international skills.

Could you detail the program and how the full event will unfold in Madrid?

We have four main sections: ‘After’, for short films, ‘Series’ for series in development, taking part in a mini-lab, ‘Last Push, dedicated to screening of advanced films with international potential, and ‘Films to Come’ – for features in development, both Spanish and international. Those four sections combine presentations, screenings, and one-to-ones meetings. Then of course being in Madrid, we’ll bring the people together around lunches and happy hours!

90% of the showcase will take place at the Cineteca Matadero in Madrid. We will have a masterclass at another place, and the series training will be at the school. Having everyone under one roof for four days will be very unique.

Could you say a few words about your program of masterclasses, including with the legendary indie U.S. producer Ted Hope and French cinematographer Hélène Louvart most recently attached to Karim Aïnouz’s Cannes entry “Motel Destino”?

Having two film talents and professionals of such stature is a dream come true for this first edition. We could have gone for directors, but we wanted to invite an inspirational indie film mogul like Ted, and a technician and artist like Hélène.

The masterclasses and conferences are there to provide food for thought about the state of our industry and culture in general. Our objective is to provide a space where top experts can discuss the state of filmma -

king, the audiovisual sector and how images have an impact on our society. To what extent do contemporary productions take responsibility for the present? What are we doing in the film industry and how does it relate to these times we’re living? Both Ted and Hélène will investigate these topics from their own perspectives.

We will also have inspirational conversations between Spanish luminary-philosopher Ernesto Castro and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (“7:35 de la mañana”) as well as journalist Marta Peirano, a world renown expert on copyright issues and technology, and academic Elena Neira, specialised in audiovisual distribution models.

In the coming editions, we will expand those inspirational conferences and masterclasses, that are perfect add-ons to the pure-business meetings and pitches.

Going back to the Forum’s “pièce de résistance,” the films and series in development and post-production looking for international partners. How was the selection process?

We had a total of 470 submissions across the four sections, which was massive considering the very short selection timeline we had – three weeks. It was crazy!

In the Films to Come, on top of the five ECAM Incubators projects, we could only select another five titles, which was very frustrating as we could easily have picked 15-20 projects of very high standard, all originated in Spain.

The same goes with the Last Push films. We were thinking of picking only six projects and ended up with eight.

Series was perhaps the most demanding selection process. We received around 150 projects in development for only seven spots, although we were asking for a completed first episode. So there are basically over 100 series ready to go in Spain these days.

We had top selection committees for each section, made up of experienced programmers, producers, scriptwriters and other industry experts. Amongst the selection criteria were the quality of materials presented, the trajectory and track record of the creative teams, the financing viability and international potential of the projects. We were looking for projects that really needed our support – either young talent with a brilliant project or with consolidated names, as ECAM has always focused on assisting emerging talent and weighing in to make a difference.

Were you surprised by some projects – the genres or singular visions?

Absolutely. I’m always aware of us, not becoming boring, not repeating ourselves. But what we received was an explosion of ideas. In the Last Push, there is a real love for storytelling, for deconstructing and reinventing genre codes. This is clear with the films “Hanami” by Denise Fernandes, “Ariel” by Lois Patiño, “Gods of Stone” by Iván Catiñeiras Gallego, set either in Galicia, the Azores Islands, or Cap Verde. The directors express their love for legends, myths, fables and blur the lines between fiction and reality. Then “The Whale” is deconstructing the thriller, the film noir, with elements of fantasy.

We also have road movies, horror, sci-fi, and eco-thrillers. This diversity in views, gazes, the way the stories are told is super exciting.

Several awards will be handed out and all are sponsored by major players or organisations. This seems to reflect the extensive network of partners that you can tap into…

I’m particularly happy to have Filmin supporting the Films to Come, via a minimum guarantee worth €30,000 ($32,700) which will go towards the best Spanish film in development. Then we have La Comunidad de Madrid and its €15,000 ($16,350) award to be handed out to the best Last Push project; and Madrid Film Office supporting both the Films to Come and After sections or short films, with €7,000 ($7,630) and €2,500 ($2,725) cash prizes respectively. Then we have a pool of friends/partners in Rotterdam, Series Mania and Serielizados who are also backing our competition programs. The last six months, we’ve already been working on some new partnerships for 2025.

What are your views on the current state of Spanish cinema and TV shows?

Spain has an amazing wealth of storytellers and we are enjoying a great momentum and visibility worldwide, especially with TV series. With film, we won a Golden Bear in Berlin “Alcarràs” in 2022, and in Cannes this year Jonás Trueba came home with the Europa Cinemas Award-best European film from the Directors’ Fortnight for “The Other Way Around”. There is definitely a growing appetite for Spanish stories and talent.

Besides that, a new generation of internationally-minded producers is steadily finding its feet, which is why we’re having the Forum. The biggest challenge, however, is to avoid homogenisation of content. And through this interview, I’d like to forward a message to experts, buyers, producers, creators: please, don’t be afraid to be radical, to avoid standardisation.

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