Fast building as one of Spain’s leading hotbeds for emerging producer and creative talent, the Madrid Film School’s ECAM Incubator, now on its sixth edition, has picked five promising titles for its 2023 program.
Aimed at Spanish directors, screenwriters and producers, the Incubator program is open to directors’ debuts as well as second or third feature projects. Each title will receive an endowment of 10,000 Euros ($10,736) towards its development. Creative teams hailing from outside of Madrid have their trips covered.
Out of the 25 projects that have passed through the Incubator over the past five editions, 21 have received Spanish Academy Goya nominations.
Many of the past ECAM projects have participated in prominent film festivals, including Venice, Rotterdam, the Berlinale and San Sebastian.
A Drill Down on the Five 2023 Projects:
“Catorce de Marzo” (“March 14”)
The feature debut of Canarian Alberto Gross Molo, who made his mark with short films “Grietas” and “Solos,” is inspired by Gross’s own childhood. Produced by Laura Egidos Plaja, Albert Aynés Clapés of Contraria and David Aymerich of Ayhe Productions, it turns on two young children, aged 6 and 12, who face what could be their last day together at their parents’ divorce hearing. Here they are made to decide which parent they want to live with from that day forward.
“I want to show what it can mean for children to be in the middle of their parents’ divorce and to be involved in this type of judicial process. Somehow everything starts from the need to understand why a child has to answer to a judge if he prefers to live with his mother or father. Just as a father or a mother cannot choose between their children, neither can children choose between their parents,” said Gross who co-wrote the film with Tomàs Bayo Encontra.
“Catorce de Marzo” participated in the programs Ekran+ 2021, My First Script (Zagreb Film Festival) 2021 and Faberllull 2022. It was also a finalist in last year’s Julio Alejandro SGAE Screenplay Award.
“¿Es usted secuestrable?” (“Are You Kidnappable?”)
A documentary by Mansalva Films founders Carlota Bujosa Cortés and David Castro González which focuses on non-fiction cinema and stop-motion animation.
Developed at Eurodoc, Mallorca Talents Lab and the Mentoring Project of L’Alternativa Desarrolla among others, the doc turns on director Bujosa Cortes’ aunt Carmen, who some 45 years ago, was held captive for nearly three days during a plane hijacking that criss-crossed the globe.
“Identity, belonging, subjectivity or one’s own memory seem to be my great songs as a creator,” said Bujosa Cortes of her feature debut. “My aunt Carmen, who knows me well, one day suggested that I make a film about one of her experiences, her top, probably most-told story: her delirious and surreal letter of introduction, the time when, aged 24, she found herself stuck for almost three days on a hijacked plane and traveling halfway around the world.”
Castro González’s short films as director and screenwriter have been selected and awarded at festivals such as Encounters (U.K.), Filminute (Canada), Huesca Festival, Cinema Jove, the Valladolid Film Festival, Torrelavega Festival, Medina del Campo and the Almería Festival. He has produced the stop motion short “Everything is Lost” (2022) by Carla Pereira and Juanfran Jacinto, a project financed by the Community of Madrid and Movistar+ among others, and has been awarded the IV Animario-Plaza Rio 2021 prize.
“Yo no moriré de amor” (“I Won’t Die for Love”)
Produced by José Esteban Alenda and César Esteban Alenda’s Solita Films whose first international co-production “El despertar de las hormigas,” made in 2019 with Costa Rica, premiered at Berlinale’s Forum. It also became the first Central American film to be nominated for a Goya.
Based on her own experience as a caregiver of her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s, Marta Matute’s debut feature revolves around 20-year-old Claudia who refuses to forsake her youth to be her mother’s caregiver. “From the age of 19 to 28, I devoted a large part of my life to caring for my mother. Now I am thirty-four and my memory of those years still lingers. ‘I Will Not Die for Love’ was born with the aim of accompanying and making visible all those young people who become early caregivers of their parents,” said Matute.
Based in Madrid, Solita Films has been producing auteur-driven and genre features for more than 10 years. Its co-production with Puerto Rico, “La Pecera,” directed by Glorimar Marrero, world premiered at Sundance and had its European premiere at last week’s Göteborg Festival.
Solita Films currently has in post “Alemania” by María Zanetti, a co-production with Juan Pablo Miller of Tarea Fina (Argentina) and documentary “Hija del Volcán,” helmed by Jenifer de la Rosa, in co-production with Mexico’s Mayéutica Prods, Auna Prods. and Cebolla Films. It s also developing slow-burning thriller “Deliver Us from Evil”; the claustrophobic horror film “Waka Waka” and fantasy young adult drama, “Alma and the Seven Monsters.”
“Mal gent” (“Bad People”)
Barcelona-born Sara Gutiérrez Calve’s sophomore feature followsthe intersecting stories of three characters: Rosario, Marinela and Pepe, who are all facing their own personal crises. When they meet at a wedding they’ve all been invited to, they will have to smile at the cameras and pretend that everything is fine.
The dramedy, set in a village in Gironès, is produced by Inés Massa and Nadine Rothschild, founders of new shingle Materia, who have several projects underway, among them the debut feature film of Blanca Camell who just participated in the Locarno Festival with her short film “Castells” and “Who Are We? Baró d’Evel,” the next documentary by Salvador Sunyer.
Given their connection with France and Latin America, Materia seeks to establish co-productions, among them “Where Trees Bare Meet,” Alexis Franco’s debut feature, in co-production with Nadia Martinez (Argentina) and Pulpa Films (U.S.), Roberto Minervini and Denise Lee’s production company, and by offering its production services in Spain to foreign productions.
Gutiérrez, who completed her studies with a film directing course at UCLA, made her directorial and screenwriting debut with “Yo la busco,” co-written with Núria Roura and produced by Nanouk Films, which premiered at the Malaga Film Festival in 2018 and was awarded the Silver Biznaga for best actor for Dani Casellas and the Movistar+ Award in the Zonacine Section. The film was also nominated for best film at the XI Premios Gaudí.
“Una cabeza en la pared” (“Head on the Wall”)
In Manuel Manrique’s drama, it’s been three years since the abolition of bullfighting in Spain and his lead character Rafael Jesús no longer finds his reason for being. He wanders the streets trying to fit into this new world where he feels completely out of touch. “Every step he takes leads him farther away from the sand and closer to the blood,” the synopsis reads.
“In my generation, we grew up with the ideal of what makes a man that today is fast fading. We all wanted to be that strong male who protects his flock at all costs but who, once he is alone, has the soul of a poet,” said Manrique who has produced and directed more than 10 short films, many of which screen on Movistar +, Amazon Prime and Filmin.
He won the best short film award at the Malaga Festival with “Nowhere.” Alongside Diego Saniz, he co-founded Kabiria Films, which last year produced their first feature film, “The Applicant.”
Saniz has had extensive experience in scriptwriting and direction, with four short films under his belt, among them “Te jodes y bailas” and “It’s Better Like This.” He has also edited a number of films including “Regresa el cepa” and “Vampus Horror Tales.”