‘Lullaby’ Producer Buenapinta Media Sets New Slate

Madrid-based Buenapinta Media, a producer on Maite Alberdi’s Oscar-nominated “The Mole Agent” and Alauda Ruiz de Azúa’s “Lullaby,” has unveiled a development slate that includes new features by Ruiz de Azúa, Cinéfondation alum Guillermo García López, and Borja Cobeaga and Victor García León.

The slate announcement comes one week after “Lullaby,” hailed by Pedro Almodovar as “undoubtedly the best debut in Spanish cinema for years,” triumphed at the 2023 Spanish Academy Awards, winning best first feature, actress (Laila Costa) and supporting actress (Susi Sánchez)

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The 2023-24 production slate at Buenapinta Media, headed by Marisa Fernández Armenteros, also features Isabel Coixet’s just-announced “Un Amor.”

“Lullaby’s” four producers — Sandra Hermida, Buenapinta Media, Encanta Films and Sayaka Producciones — are now backing development on Ruiz de Azúa’s second feature. She is writing the screenplay.

Buenapinta is also developing “Cuidad sin sueño,” from García López, whose “Frágil Equilibrio” won a 2016 best doc feature Goya. “Ciudad” is a social-issue film turning on the Canada Real, a shanty settlement along a 14-kilometer stretch of road, mostly in Madrid.

Two of Spain’s top comedy talents, scribe-director Cobeaga (“Spanish Affair”) and García León (“Los Europeos”) are writing “Altas Capacidades” (“Better Class”), a social satire. León will direct.

“Inspired by a real-life event, it turns on the coexistence and contradictions of relations between Spanish upper and middle classes, independently of their ideology or code of ethics,” said Armenteros.

“A sophisticated comedy, it talks very well about the good intentions which, sometimes, fall far short of the intent”, she added. Orange Spain is a financial partner.  Sayaka is also backing development.

Shaping up as one of the high-profile Spanish productions of 2023, “Un Amor,” which goes into production on Feb. 20, adapts the same-titled novel by Spain’s Sara Mesa, hailed by Spanish newspaper El País as the best book of 2020.

Starring Laia Costa (“Victoria”) and Hovik Keuchkerian, best known for his turn as Bogotá in “La Casa de Papel” (aka “Money Heist”), “Un Amor” turns on a translator, Nat, in her thirties who goes to live in a benighted small village, her city origins clashing with its male inhabitants. Ostracized, she plunges into a dependent obsessive love affair.

“‘Un Amor’ confirms that lying beneath desire, affection and fear, the irrational remains,” said Fernández Armenteros. That’s why the story’s fascinated so many readers,  my partners Sandra Hermida and Belén Atienza and myself. A community of strong characters in an ambience recognizable in any place in the world.”

Hermida and Atienza’s credits include J.A. Bayona’s upcoming “The Society of Snow” and “The Impossible.”

“I like to be involved in projects which I can defend because of their issues and artistic ambition,” Fernández Armenteros said.

Announced at Berlin, the slate underscores Europe’s surging co-production scene, as producers adapt to new market conditions and capitalise on connections made at development labs across the continent. The ultimate mainstay of this model is the resilience of public film funding which has risen, not fallen, as governments prioritize film and TV as strategic sectors helping to power recover from pandemic.

In Spain, for example, the film protection fund of the ICAA central film agency has sky-rocketed rose 52.8% to $114.91 million in 2023, an all-time record.

Triple Goya winning “Lullaby” “could not have been made with quotas [for women directors] and a hike in selective film funding in Spain,” Fernández Armenteros attested.

Also, “I believe in co-production. It’s the culture I was born and grew up in. My first traineeship was in Eurimages. I lived this culture at Mediapro,” said Fernández Armenteros.

Fernández Armenteros exec produced  “Lullaby” with Hermida, Manuel Calvo at Madrid’s Encanta Films and Nahikari Ipiña at Bilbao’s Sayaka Producciones. The same partners are backing Ruiz de Azúa’s second feature.

Fernández Armenteros is one of five co-producers on “The Mole Agent.” On “Un Amor,” Hermida is based out of Barcelona, Fernández Armenteros in Madrid. “Ciudad sin sueño” is being structured as a co-production with France.

“We’re now sharing stories with other points of view and perspectives and a new generation of talent,” she added.

The surge in co-production marks a sea-change in outlook for Europe’s cinema. Deprived of markets, with limited financial resources and little private investment, Europe’s arthouse cinema can only look to public TV and public-sector funding. “So I have to turn to other countries to make films,” the Spanish producer reasoned.

“It’s the only way for small, startup companies such as Buenapinta Media to take on projects,” she added.

“Four eyes see more than two,” she says. “There are so many crises in filmmaking that it is better to address them with others. Quickness, diversify risks and share opportunities”.

Film Constellation takes an associate producer credit on “Un Amor.” “The audiovisual world is constantly changing,” Fernández Armenteros said. “We have to look for support from distributors who are in constant contact with the market.”

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