I have often written about how difficult it is to be part of the Spanish film industry, and as a result obtain subsidies, interest from national public broadcaster TVE or from Spanish film festivals. All of these elements are inter-related and guided by a common denominator: who your friends are. Sad, but true. For film subsidies for instance, the selection committee doesn’t actually read all 400+ applications but simply looks at who the director is, or the producer.
If your name counts, it’s better to be called Pepe Sanchez than Koen Suidgeest. I am living proof of that! So, in the process of making Karla’s Arrival, I have resigned to the fact that, despite living in Spain, here I won’t be able to count on any support from anyone ever. That way, I won’t be disappointed.
Think about it: the second documentary ever to get support from the prestigious ITVS International, a film with nine international pre-sales to other countries, one of the few films ever to be chosen to pitch at the IDFA Forum, made by a Spanish Academy Award nominee… and no support from the Ministry of Culture, TVE doesn’t return my calls, the film festival in Valladolid (generally considered the festival of Spanish cinema whom I offered the world premiere) doesn’t want us…
Not getting a subsidy from the ICAA (the Ministry of Culture) was a major blow last year and made me come to this “you-won’t-ever-be-part-of this-and-maybe-better-so” realization. And accept it. But this morning I was in their offices and things have gotten worse. Instead of me receiving support for producing culture, I now need to pay them to actually watch the film to get the age certificate required by law. This is a first, as far as I remember.
Now, it’s not much money: 1,3868 euros for every 11 minutes of film or part thereof. In my case, 12,48 euros. But still… it seems like a paradox. Should I expect public services to be free? Probably not. Should I expect, after all this time, to get the support others are also getting for far less successful projects? Definitely.
It’s not as dramatic as it sounds, but I am having a really hard time staying in touch with Sujeylin. I again spoke to her aunt yesterday, and she told me Sujeylin is living on the small farm they have out in the middle of nowhere. I was asked to call again tomorrow to give her time to find out how I could get in touch.
I’d really like to know how they are (mother and her two children). And I am planning to be in Nicaragua at the end of October / beginning of November, and would want to see her to show her the film.
You can read about an exhausting visit to this farm in March 2009 here. And this is proof I was there:
Not quite. In fact, it’s hot in Madrid. But playtime is certainly over. I have recently returned to work and we are in full gear to plan the various premieres and the distribution strategy for the film. There’s no confirmed news yet, but got some good stuff cooking.
Expect this blog to get re-activated now, after a few weeks of relative silence.
What is a little worrisome is that I can’t seem to get back in touch with Sujeylin. She’s already gone through two telephone numbers since I last saw her in April, but both are out of action again. Felix, her now ex-boyfriend, told my local producer that she’s not well. So I am worried and want to talk to her to get her story first hand. I did speak to her aunt just yesterday, but she didn’t know anything. She asked me to call back on Sunday. So that’s what I’ll do.
Sujeylin is someone you can always expect interesting things from. Maybe this is the seed of a new follow up film?
Some of you might know that I am an Up With People alumnus. Between 1988 and 1992 I traveled with, and worked for, this educational international exchange program. Today the Alumni Association published an article about Karla’s Arrival in their digital newsletter UpBeat, which is received by some 20.000 people in nearly 100 countries. You can read it here.
It’s summer and we’ve slowed down. Finally! The 90 minute version, for festivals, the DVD and some broadcasters, has been totally finished. The hour version (58 minutes to be exact, for most international broadcasters) as well. In September or October I expect the film to premier, and from then on there will be a lot of news again. If you do want updates about screenings in your area, please sign up for the newsletter which goes straight to your inbox. Look in the sidebar, on top.
Have a nice summer. Thanks for your support so far. Get ready, because there’s a lot more to come!
We have finally decided on a title: Karla’s Arrival. In Spanish that would be La llegada de Karla. It took us a while, but I am very happy with the decision.
Tomorrow I am in Brussels to get back to the editing room with Jan. We’ll be finalizing the one-hour television version of the film. We hope to have it done by Friday.