Welcome to International Disruptors, a column where we shine the spotlight on the top executives and companies outside of the United States that are disrupting the offshore market. This week, as the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival has just kicked off, we caught up with Enrique Costa and María Zamora, co-founders of Spanish distribution and production banner Elastica Films. At just one year old, the company is already making waves in the independent sector. They tell us about the first year of the company, their love of cinema and how they build films that touch the public.
During last year’s sleek Cannes Film Festival, Enrique Costa and María Zamora landed on the Croisette after launching their new Spanish distribution-production banner Elastica Films. The pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the theater industry, and that usual bustling market feeling felt especially muted compared to previous years.
But that didn’t stop the fledgling band from picking up three of the festival’s hottest titles: that of Leox Carax AnetteOscar-nominated Joachim Trier The worst person in the world and Oscar winner Ryusuke Hamaguchi drive my car. The company also presented Freedom in Critics Week, a production Zamora had done with the duo’s former company Avalon, where they were both partners.
“We will always remember Cannes last year because it was our first time under our new label and it was such a good deal for us,” Zamora told Deadline.
“It was really profitable for us and it was a great first festival to launch Elastica,” enthuses Costa.
And the proof is in the pudding as indie titles continued to do strong business in Spanish theaters: Anette 45,000 entries ($232,000); drive my car achieved over 65,000 admissions ($357,000); and The worst person in the world recorded 250,000 entries ($876,000). These are encouraging figures that place Spain in the top five markets for each of these festival darlings, sometimes even beating historically larger markets like the UK. And all this during a pandemic, anyway.
It was a bold move to launch a distribution arm as Covid-19 continued to impact the world, but for Costa, who runs that part of the business while Zamora leads the production side, it was perfectly fine. logic.
“I told María, it’s the right time because everything is so horrible right now,” he says. The results were so bad that I thought if we had a film that really, really worked, we wanted to be there.
The couple had spent 17 years at Madrid-based production-distribution company Avalon before leaving on good terms and setting up Elastica in Valencia last year. With extensive experience under their belts in both areas, it was natural to branch out and try something new.
“We knew early on what kind of projects we wanted to buy and what kind of talent we wanted to be involved with,” Costa says. “It was easy for us from the start to identify what space we wanted to operate in and that means distributing and producing films that we want to watch as audiences.”
The company targets its audience largely through social media and internet campaigns, connecting with influencers who have greater reach in the current climate than a newspaper review could.
“Social media is crucial,” says Costa. “What critics say and how they view the film is important, but at the same time we now know that’s also what social media is saying about the film and how word of mouth spreads through things like Twitter. and Instagram. We need to start building these campaigns early.
Elastica was the main producer behind the Berlinale Golden Bear winner Alcarras, which he co-produced with Avalon. The project, which is director Carla Simón’s second film, follows the life of a family of peach farmers in a small village in Catalonia whose world changes when the owner of their large estate dies and his lifelong heir decides to sell the land, suddenly threatening their livelihood.
The film has been a big hit in Spain since its release in late April, earning over 250,000 admissions ($1.2M+) in theaters and making it the most successful Catalan film in over 10 years. Encouragingly, it was the “gray-haired” older punters who were ascending to cinemas, an audience that proved more difficult for distributors around the world to return to theatres.
Elastica built on the film’s win in Berlin and kicked off the film’s Spanish premiere in Catalonia, inviting the President of Catalonia and the Minister of Culture to the outdoor event, opting for a green carpet instead. d’une rouge – a tribute to farming and rural life in remote parts of the region that are now disappearing as large corporations move into the territory.
“What we did was really special with this premiere,” says Zamora. “It was very emotional. We brought all these different personalities together and made the film close to the audience – they felt they were part of it.
For Zamora, alcarras is the perfect example of the kinds of productions Elastica wants in its books – smart, moving personal stories that have something to say to global audiences.
“I keep looking for directors and stories that have a different angle or a special look or a story that looks at something important that we feel compelled to tell,” Zamora explains. “I try all the time to research topics that are in our society and that people are talking about, but we can approach them from a different angle and bring them to light in a way that the public has never seen before. “
Zamora is passionate about supporting fledgling filmmakers, many of whom are women, and has produced 10 films with fledgling directors so far.
“I love making first films and discovering new talent,” she says. “It’s something I’ve done for many years and will continue to do. At the same time, I also develop relationships with experienced directors.
Elastica development list includes: Simón’s third feature Pilgrimage; mothers no of Mar Coll; At Jaione Camborda’s The horn of rye; and Elena Martin Gimeno Creature. it is also developing The Red Madonna by Paula Oritz with Amazon and has a host of early TV projects.
The company is also producing Spanish actress Marta Nieto’s first film about a transgender boy and his relationship with his mother. “It was important that we tell this story from the mother’s perspective,” says Zamora. “It’s an angle that I don’t think we’ve seen before.”
In addition, he is working on the debut of Álvaro Gago questionthe director who won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 for his short film of the same name.
This year at Cannes, Elastica will be active with Costa admitting he has his eye on a handful of projects in what looks like a very saturated package market. The company has three projects premiering at the festival. There are The water by Elena López Riera, who stars in the Directors’ Fortnight, which Costa describes as a “very powerful film”. Elastica is distributing the title with the Spanish VOD platform Filmin, where it will head after a theatrical release.
It’s also aboard French helmsman Mia Hanson-Love’s A nice morning, also screened at the Directors’ Fortnight. Costa worked on Hanson-Love Bergman Island when he was in Avalon and continues this relationship with Elastica.
The company also previously acquired the Cannes competition title triangle of sadness by Swedish director Ruben Ostlund, another relationship born out of Avalon when the pair worked on the director’s title The place.
Zamora will spend his Cannes Film Festival watching a lot of films because the producer is part of the Critics’ Week jury this year.
Going forward, Costa and Zamora say they don’t intend to grow too quickly, preferring to take the process organically and thoughtfully.
Zamora notes that there is a tendency for many producers to expand their roster and take on too many projects at once given the surge in global production and the appetite of local and global streamers.
“It’s very tempting right now for producers because there’s so much production going on all the time,” she says. “It can be very frantic, but my way of working with directors is much more artisanal. We have to build things very slowly and take our time.
Costa agrees, adding that he prefers to think of Elastica as a large slow cooker. “As a distributor, we also have to take our time. We watch how the film moves forward, grows slow and slow and we have to be close to it and nurture it. Of course, we want Elastica to be in good shape, but it’s not our mission to produce five feature films and three series a year and to distribute 20 films a year. It’s not a question of volume, it’s a question of quality.
He adds: “We are old school. We are in love with cinema and we believe that cinema is here to stay. It’s still the most important window into the life of a film. So we’re going to focus on participating in films that we can bring to the cinema and films that an audience wants to participate in. We will continue to look for new talents that we can have the opportunity to facilitate their career by presenting their films to the public.
This week’s edition of International Disruptors is presented by Guillotine Vodka.