Ventana Sur: Spain’s Killer Development Projects Span Full Realm of the Fantastic

Ann-Marie Corvin
·4-min read

From a twisty cabin-in-the-woods to a brutal Basque fairytale and a musical combining flamenco and vampires, Ventana Sur’s “Window Within the Blood Window” has unveiled a broad church of genre projects from Spain.

Designed to flag up five of the top Spanish projects in development, the new Bloody Cinema session was curated by the ICAA’s marketing director Tito Rodriguez, Sitges festival general manager Mónica Garcia Massagué and Javier Fernandez, head of Ventana Sur’s Blood Window program.

Rapidly gaining buzz is Daniel Hernadez Torrado’s “Virtual: The Hologames,” a 90-minute post-apocalyptic tale set in a world dominated by technology, in which a gamer is forced to take part in a dangerous virtual tournament.

So far this year the project has received a special mention at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival and was submitted for Blood Window’s international section on the recommendation of the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.

While the director reeled off a list of iconic sci-fi references including “Blade Runner,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Matrix,” what shined through in his presentation was a passion for video games.

Previously, Torrado’s well-received short “Pixel Theory: Pandora’s Box” explored this world and this new feature returns to it in more detail – channeling the real with the virtual as well as gaming titles such as “Fortnite” and “League of Legends.”

According to Torrado, the world’s 2.5 billion gamers and e-sports audiences that total 500 million viewers worldwide, will be among this feature project’s target audience, and it will be shot in English.

The director, who is seeking coproduction partners, distributors and an internationally-known actor for one of the support roles, added that thanks to new real-time VFX technology his film can be made on a budget of Euros 2 million ($2.4 million).

Alicia Albares debut feature “The Bad Mother” explores the terror of unwanted maternity and is the other Spanish project from this session to also feature in Blood Window’s international section.

Albares, a successful short film maker, presented a well-developed story with many twists and turns, which focuses on the amnesiac victim of a car accident who wakes up in a house in the woods with her family doctor and a nun.

The gothic horror elements soon crank up, including ghostly apparitions of pregnant women and a full uterus removal.

Producer Al Diaz of Mordisco Films added that he loved Albares’ script “from the very first day” and is looking to secure the remaining 80% of the financing required to make this Euros 1.3 million ($1.4 million) project.

The film is looking for “dedicated and craftsman-like” post-production partners, Latin American co-production partners as well as platform and distribution support.

His first feature, distributed exclusively by Netflix in Spain, “The Blacksmith and the Devil,” was hailed as a “great Basque fairytale horror” by Guillermo del Toro, and now director Paul Urkijo is back with “Irati,” another Basque-language dark fantasy set in the Middle Ages, where sorcery and monsters clash with Christian beliefs.

The project was selected for Sitges this year within the Cannes Film Market’s Fantastic Seven enterprise, and has already secured 60% of its budget in the form of grants from public television, co-production and tax breaks.

At Ventana Sur Urkijo is seeking an international sales agent for presales and sales as well as platforms and new partners.

“Death’s Bride,” meanwhile, is the third feature project of Antonio Morales, who made the low-budget Madrid-set dramedy “Marisa in the Wood,” which was picked up by the Paramount Channel, Amazon Prime, Rakuten and Filmin.

Morales latest project is a musical that mixes vampires with flamenco in 1930s Almeria, and has already gained buzz at San Sebastian and Sitges pitching sessions, where it received an honorable mention. The project is now seeking producers both in Spain and internationally.

The fifth and final killer development project was Sergio Rozas’ stylish post-apocalyptic horror Western “Frontera,” which is being produced through the director’s renowned Madrid-based post-production facility, User T38, which has provided VFX shots for “Agora,” “The Others,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Color Out of Space.”

Exploring issues of nationalism, patriotism and immigration, the story takes place in a remote border town dogged by an impending sense of war and one in which the local population must defend itself from strange creatures that attack them but also from one another.

Inspired by films such as “Assault on Precinct 13” and the films of Sergio Leone, Rozas added that the feature’s color palette is inspired by pastel colorized photos and footage of soldiers during World War I.
The film has gained traction at Sitges Pitchbox Online this year, and while it doesn’t yet have a cast, through User T38 it boasts “a first-class technical crew,” according to Rozas.

The project is looking for international co-producers and sales agents to help with funding and distribution.

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