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        BARCELONA – “20,000 Species of Bees,” “Something Like Happiness” and “Los quinquis” are among five feature projects that will be put through development at the ECAM Madrid Film School’s pioneering Incubator program.

        The Incubator forms part of The Screen, a program at the ECAM Madrid Film School, which is aimed at fostering links between on-the-rise Spain-based talent and Europe’s film and TV industries.

        Produced by Gariza Films, “20,000 Species of Bees ” marks the debut feature of Estibaliz Urresola. It weighs in with the logline: “What would you do if your six-year-old son says he is a she?”

        “It’s not just a movie about transgender children,” Urresola said, adding: “It is a story about our inner lives and how they interplay with the world outside; about the boundaries between these two worlds— and also about violence committed in family, even in the name of love.”

        Director-producer Lara Izagirre directed Basque homecoming drama “An Autumn Without Berlin.” Her second feature as a director is “Nora,” currently at the editing stage and produced by Basque Gariza and La Fidèle Production, located in the French Basque Country.

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        “Something Similar to Happiness” represents the awaited feature debut of Galician Álvaro Gago. Selected by Variety as a top Spanish talent in 2015, Gago won a Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Festival for short “Matria” amid a flurry of other kudos.

        “Happiness”marks a follow-up to his multi-awarded “Matria” and is focused on the main short character, Ramona, a forty-year-old woman who goes through an unpredictable personal situation. She finds a man with whom she builds an uncommon friendship that allows her to think that maybe there is something new to live for.

        “Happiness” is inspired by an “anonymous heroine who worked at my grandfather’s house. Her personal universe was so rich and complex that I would like to keep on exploring it,” the director said. Gago’s first feature is produced by Mireia Graell at Barcelona’s Ringo Media.

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        Produced by director-producer Pedro Collantes (shorts “Serori,” “Eskiper”)  “Antier Noche” (an age-old expression meaning “what happened the night before yesterday”) is the debut of Switzerland-based, Madrid-born Alberto Martín Menacho. Through an experimental approach, the project portrays four youngsters still living in the same rural area who grew up questioning the social stagnation around them.

        “Antier noche” explores hunting but is not a movie about it.” It is a sociological and cultural heritage tale in a rural context. It is a story of love, of uprooting too, of solitude, and of the beauty of youth,” Menacho said.

        Members of the final selection committee this year included Marisa Fernández Armenteros, a producer at Mediapro’s cinema division, Arcadia Motion Pictures’ producer Sandra Tapia, and Elle Driver’ sales and acquisitions manager Alexis Reybet-Degat.

        Selected at Locarno’s Match Me! Program, Barcelona’s Gadea is the production company behind “La Unión,” The feature follows twin sisters Cecilia and Juliana, born in Colombia but raised in Barcelona, who return to their native village due to their ailing mother.

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        “My mother’s family past has always been a great mystery to me. Her parents died long before I was born, and she never talks to me about them. I decided to take a trip to Colombia, the place where she was born, to start a documentary about my mother’s silence.” director Cordelia Alegre said.

        Producer Patricia Franquesa added: “Our aim is to explore fiction through the research and mise-en-scène of documentaries.”

        Produced by Dynamite Films, producer of Yayo Herrero‘s “The Maus,” and Armand Rovira’s “Letters to Paul Morrissey,” ”Los Quinquis” follows with the rhythm  of a thriller two teenage twin brothers living on Madrid’s marginal outskirts whose life suddenly takes a radical turn, just when they decide to escape from their oppressive environment.

        “It’s a criminal drama that brings together, encoded in fiction, real stories of several delinquents from the Spanish suburbs.” said director Herrero, who also has a twin brother, and whose father worked as a prison guard prosecutor during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

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        Produced by Dynamite and Apache Ent., Herrero’s debut feature “The Maus” premiered at Sitges and Fantastic Fest, snagging the Next Wave Award at the U.S. event.

        All the Incubator’s five new projects receive €10,000 ($10,847) grants for development. They will be mentored by directors Pablo Berger ( “Blancanieves”), Neus Ballús (“Staff Only”) and Nacho Vigalondo (“Colossal”). Producers Armenteros, Sandra Tapia and Emma Lustres (Vaca Films) will also monitor the projects from March to July. 

        The Incubator endows producers behind the projects with a crucial role to pay on the films. Gemma Vidal, the program manager at this projects forum event, commented: “The producers’ selection gathers this year a bouquet of already experienced professionals ready to take the leap into feature territory, with a bold international scope,” adding that the number of female producers behind the hundreds of submitted projects—in line with last year— has been remarkably higher than in previous editions.

        The Incubator initiative is held in collaboration with Focus CoPro, a new event hosted by Cannes’ Short Film Corner, the Torino Film Lab, Rotterdam Lab (IFFR), the Toronto and San Sebastian film fests, Spanish film promotion org Espagnolas en Paris, and EAVE (the European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs).

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