Beta Fiction Spain unveils the Pasionaria project, its plans and strategies
When it launched in early May, Beta Fiction Spain unveiled its first project as a producer, “Dolores”, a portrait of Spaniard Dolores Ibarruri, a global icon of the labor movement and the fight against fascism. .
The feature film is inspired by “Pasionaria. La vida inesperada de Dolores Ibárruri”, a non-fiction book asking questions by Spanish historian Diego Díaz Alonso published in 2020.
Highlighting Beta Fiction Spain’s ability to attract top Spanish talent, the script for “Pasionaria” is written by two of Spain’s foremost film and television scribes, Alejandro Hernández, co-writer of “While at War” from Alejandro Amenábar and Mariano “What the Future Holds” by Barroso and Michel Gaztambide, a writer on Julio Medem’s 1992 debut album “Cows”, Enrique Urbizu’s Best Picture, Goya winner “No Rest for the Wicked” and Freddy Highmore’s thriller “The Vault”, the second highest -grossing Spanish film of 2021.
Díaz Alonso’s book attempts to explain how Ibárruri was able to rebel against the traditional fate of a woman from a humble Basque mining family. He also notes her status as a pioneer of women’s rights by founding the Unión de Mujeres Antifascistas, the largest women’s organization in Republican Spain from 1931 to 1939; and, more polemically, how she fought fascism, colonialism, apartheid and racism while remaining for much of her life a public supporter of Stalin.
“Dolores”, the film, can focus on a specific but significant period of Ibárruri’s life, along the lines of “While at War”.
The film “will show the real person behind the icon,” Mercedes Gamero, CEO of Beta Fiction Spain, told Conecta Fiction & Entertainment, where a panel, Beta Film: Scripted and Unscripted Film for the World, served to present the Beta fiction and factual entertainment and operations in Spain.
Ibárruri’s life is linked to current gender issues, she added. “She wanted to become a teacher but couldn’t because she was a woman. This is the angle we want to show, not so much her political side as that of a woman fighting against the rules of her time.
“Dolores Ibárruri fought for something universal: people living in better conditions than they are used to. It’s universal,” added Pablo Nogueroles, general manager of Beta Fiction Spain. “We come from CineEurope, which had many projects with strong women who fought to make the world a better place, whatever their political ideas.”
Although a movie, “Pasionaria” could also turn into a drama series or a documentary, observed Nogueroles.
Beta Fiction Spain: strategy, competitive advantages
BFS will release around 12 films a year in Spanish theaters, six acquired on the international market, six more Spanish feature films produced by BFS itself, Nogueroles told the CF&E panel.
As the former head of Atresmedia Cine, one of Spain’s most powerful film production houses, and SVP of Warner Bros. Pictures International Spain, Gamero and Nogueroles respectively produced and distributed in Spain many notable film titles, often as a team, such as on Alberto Rodríguez. “Marshland” (2014), “The Invisible Guest” by Oriol Paulo (2016) and BO 2021 by Santiago Segura hit “Todo Tren”.
In line with many of their collaborations, BFS releases will be “commercial quality films”. He has acquired several titles for Spain, mostly for a 2023 release or a possibly late 2022 release, Nogueroles said.
Beta Fiction can bring a lot to the table, Gamero and Nogueroles argued to Conecta Fiction.
“We are a one-stop-shop, we can offer talent co-production, distribution in Spain and international sales, all under one roof. Very few companies in Spain can match that,” Gamero said.
“Producing, we will be on projects from the start,” she added. Having skin in the game, Beta Fiction will really want the titles to succeed, she argued.
“We really want to maximize all windows and all platforms and really believe that it all starts with the big screen. Most filmmakers want their films to be seen on the big screen,” Nogueroles said. A theatrical arc “also creates value for subsequent windows,” he said.
“It’s impossible to catch every movie on streamers. People want to watch movies at home when they heard about them because they opened in theaters,” Gamero added.
In series, BFS launches as the straightened circumstances of many broadcast networks and the increased ambitions of many series mean that several projects are now around 20% short of completion pieces.
Here, BTS stepped in with funding the gap, like Beta Film did on the Atresmedia series “Fariña,” Gamero observed. She also cited the example of “Atlantic Crossing”, glimpsed in a Beta showreel, a series supported by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK and co-produced by Beta Film, Swedish SVT and Danish DR and the American public broadcasting service.
“We believe that BFS can open the door for Spanish creators to this type of organic relationship, powerful European co-productions, so that they are more ambitious, not only in economic terms but also creatively,” said Gamero.
Christian Gockel, Executive Vice President of International Operations and Co-CEO of Beta Spain, kicked off the panel presentation with a sizzle reel that described Beta as Europe’s independent group for content creation and distribution, making content local a global success for more than 60 years, from Europe to Europe and for Europe and the world:
Recent beta movie titles highlighted in the reel support the claim: “Generation War, “Gomorrah”, “Atlantic Crossing”, “Professor T”, “La Fortuna”, “1992”, “1993” and “1994 “, “The Pier”, “The Shift”, “Hotel Portofino”, “Shame”, “Sisi”, “Babylon Berlin”, “Perfect Life” and “Borgia”.
They feature some of the biggest and most successful European best-selling titles of the past decade. Best known as a distributor, Beta is now much more of a production force, comprising more than 30 production houses with three-quarters of its revenue coming from production, Gockel noted.
It has grown tremendously in recent years, multiplying revenue by a factor of 10, he added. That said, the Beta group has decided to grow organically, building businesses around European talent, betting on the long term, creating and maintaining IPs.
“We are a big company but we try not to be a company, we are a very independent family business and we don’t want to lose that DNA,” Gockel said.
With Beta in Spain, “we are looking to strengthen distribution and find partners in Spain and Latin America and connect Spanish talent to the talent we have in our production houses in Europe,” he added.
Beta Entertainment Spain
Beta is also best known for its fiction – series and films – but it is looking to expand its entertainment and factual business, currently based in Germany and Spain.
The Beta Group presentation ended with a presentation by Javier Pérez de Silva, former CEO of Fremantle Spain and partner of Televisa La Competencia and now CEO of Beta Entertainment Spain, launched in 2019.
Pérez presented a sizzling second reel of his current tracks.
Some are the game show “The Vending Game,” currently in co-development with NBC; Docu-reality Mediaset “Mi gran boda gipsy”; HBO Max documentary series “Zero Waste Chef”; The Prime Video-Mediaset docuseries “El Principito”; an adventure docu-reality “Desafío Artico”, produced for Canal Sur in Andalusia; Docu-reality Mediaset “Gypsy Kings”; football true crime series “11 Tiros FC”; and the eco-documentary series “Around the world in 80 days, sustainable”.
“Doing something local that can then be exported overseas has been BES’s strategy over the past year, although we’ve also teamed up with companies as big as NBC on a big project in times of prime time, and with Mediaset, so we can tell stories that would be difficult without them,” Pérez said.
The BES strategy is three-pronged, he added: “Personality: having a persona or an IP address to work on; “products based on real facts, elements of real life allowing the construction of a non-fiction product”; unique format elements, which make a show instantly recognizable.