Luís Ángel Ramírez
by Vitor Pinto
25/04/2007 - The choice of Imval Producciones founder Luís Ángel Ramírez as the Spanish representative at this year’s EFP initiative Producers on the Move at the Cannes Film Festival denotes a European bent in the career path of the traditionally South American-oriented producer.
Cineuropa: What is your background and how did you end up becoming a producer?
Luís Ángel Ramírez: I hold a degree in Communications and Advertising. University was a way to compensate for the absence of film schools in Spain. For many years, the field of producing was a self-taught one in Spain, which led to many producers currently working in the sector to venture into producing and directing short films.
When did you create Imval Producciones? How did the company evolve and what are your current plans?
Imval Producciones was created 12 years ago and initially we only produced advertising and TV content. The second half of the 1990s marked the beginning of the production of films – first short films then, in 1997, we produced our first feature, Chevrolet. So far we have made over 20 short films and five features, among them Dionisio Pérez Galindo's El regalo de Silvia and Santiago Tabernero's Vida y color, as well as several TV documentaries. Currently, we focus mainly on co-productions with Latin America, which is a rather dynamic and creative region. The existence of Ibermedia – the multilateral fund to support co-productions with Latin America – and development forums for Latin American projects such as Fundación Carolina became fundamental to the development of Spanish production outfits willing to establish co-production links with Latin America.
We are currently shooting the documentary Unidad 25, directed by Alejo Hoijman and co-produced with Argentina's Lagarto Cine. With Chile's Rates y Sriano we produced Daniel Henriquez's directorial debut A un metro de ti, a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the cocaine underworld, starring Spanish actors Fele Martínez and Mercé Llorens alongside a Chilean cast. In the second half of this year we will partner with German, French, Argentinean and Uruguayan producers to shoot Mal día para pescar, the first film by Uruguayan filmmaker Alvaro Brechner, who is based in Spain. The film is the adaptation of Juan Carlos Onetti's short story “Jacob y el otro”. I’m betting it will be one of the top Latin American films of 2008.
What is your opinion on the new Film Law, the drafting of which recently caused such a violent reaction amongst Spanish film industry professionals?
No doubt the industry needs a new Film Law that responds to the new trends of making and viewing films. The new law should protect the diversity and heterogeneity of styles that have always characterised Spanish cinema. It obviously makes sense to reach a consensus with the professionals. In my opinion, the new law approved by the Socialist government must contain several important elements, such as defining and guaranteeing the survival of the independent producer (who is not sponsored by any media); keeping the current 5% film investment from broadcasters; defining the screen share of European films; finding mechanisms that push distributors and exhibitors to maximize the theatrical exhibition of European films; and establishing methods that help incorporate private financing through tax write-offs.
2006 recorded the highest domestic production levels of the past 25 years yet admissions decreased with respect to 2005. What could be done to attract more audiences to local films?
This is probably a turning-point period when it comes to the way we consume films in theatres. Some factors seem to point out that film consumption is increasingly more related to the time and places where we tend to spend out leisure time. The proliferation of shopping malls with multiplexes is proportional to the disappearance of theatres whose programmes did not include mainstream titles. In the future the trend will be to homogenise the supply in a brutal way. We will all consume more of the same type of cinema. Very few films will be shown on many screens. That’s already happening as blockbusters open on at least 50 screens, leaving little space for local productions.
Several measures could be taken: a political conception stressing film's cultural and industrial value, in which national cinema is seen as a cultural good; supporting the screen share of European cinema by reducing taxes for those promoting it (this would give more freedom to the public to choose from a varied supply); the creation of theatres with a programme focused on European and Latin American films, the management of which would be simultaneously public and private. The latter would improve the quality of the supply, as is happening in Argentina.
What do you expect from your participation in the Producers on the Move initiative?
To get to know colleagues from different backgrounds and ideas, generate synergies of work, discuss projects and future collaborations. And, of course, to have some fun. A man's spirit is not only nourished with films.