Cristina Fraile • Producer, Maluta Films
“We are always on the lookout for co-productions that inspire us”
- We begin a series of chats with the Spanish production professionals who are taking part in this year’s Match Me! programme, run by Locarno Pro, in order to gauge their expectations
Three Spanish producers, Cristina Hergueta, Carlos Pardo Ros and Cristina Fraile, are taking part in Match Me!, an integral part of Locarno Pro 2021. We chatted to Fraile, the head of San Sebastián-based company Maluta Films.
Cineuropa: What is your company’s ideology or “editorial policy”?
Cristina Fraile: Maluta Films tells stories that need to be told, both in documentary and in fiction format. Generally speaking, they’re related to social, cultural or historical topics, human rights and so on.
Is it very difficult to get projects off the ground in Spain at this very peculiar moment in time?
As a matter of fact, it is – it’s not easy for us small producers at the moment, as public support is hard to come by. It’s getting increasingly difficult to meet the criteria. They demand previous experience, but we, as independent production companies, cannot compete with the big corporations in that respect; they ask us for a proven track record of our screenwriters and directors, but we work with first-time directors… In our case, we fall in love with the projects or with the story, and we usually end up being disappointed when it’s time to look for public support. That’s why we have to build up our experience at festivals and markets, work on forging ties with the TV channels in the autonomous regions, and look for co-producers to strengthen partnerships and thus raise the budgets we need. We’re required to do everything, and it’s not always easy with a limited team. This particular time, in the middle of COVID-19, is another complication that just adds to the difficulties of producing something.
But do the TV channels and national bodies tend to get behind authorship and talent?
Personally, I think they support the cast you have to a greater extent, as well-known faces will always give the project more clout. But we have so many actors who deserve that opportunity that’s been given to those who are more established, so many male and female directors who are worthy of that opportunity… In general, authorship and talent play second fiddle to other virtues. It’s very difficult to secure the involvement of television channels and national bodies when producing a film by an emerging talent.
People are talking quite a lot about the boom in digital platforms and their support for film... Is this a reality when it comes to the most intimate, sensitive and indie brand of cinema?
In general, the platforms are looking for successful projects to broadcast, which means that arthouse cinema has little to no chance of seeing the light of day via them. But this is the cinema that motivates us and the kind we want to make. Sometimes, our stories are “very local”, “very tiny” or “are not of interest to all audiences”, which means that risky projects like ours have almost no place on the platforms.
What appealed to you particularly about your films? What persuaded you to get involved in the lengthy production process?
The stories, their protagonists, the screenwriter and the director are the crucial elements. The protagonists of our documentaries as well, as they tell fascinating stories that help us to show the human side of many unjust, complicated situations and suffering… And a strong sense of resilience, which helps us not to lose hope in humanity. As for fiction, it’s a change of format, but our protagonists, whether male or female, are characterised by their great display of bravery when it’s time to confront their lives in view of the huge difficulties they face. As for the crew, there’s a great deal of empathy in order to be able to embark on a very long journey together; therefore, we have to lay down the foundations of a very strong commitment.
Did you try to get your films made as co-productions with other countries?
Of course, we are always on the lookout for co-productions that inspire us; we are unwavering advocates of teamwork, and a co-production with other national film industries will always enrich the project. France, Portugal, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, among others, are on our radar, and we are already working on cross-border projects.
What recommendations or advice would you give to someone who has a screenplay and wants to turn it into a film?
To be patient, as it’s a long journey; there will be times when you’ll want to throw in the towel, but you have to keep fighting and striving to bring that dream to fruition. And you need to be very demanding with your own work, because if it’s a good story, it will end up being made into a film.
What are you hoping for the Match Me! programme at Locarno Pro?
To forge alliances, to learn and to grow. We want to find stable partners for our current and future projects.
What are the most appealing elements among the features that you have on the boil right now?
We would highlight the story, which is human, relatable and simple. Also, the eagerness to tell that story. We don’t have any films with major special effects, but we do have narratives that will entertain the audience, thrill them and spark conversation after they watch them.
(Translated from Spanish)
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