Ex-Cannes Critics’ Week Head, Trade Activist Jose Maria Riba Useless at 68

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Indefatigable artwork movie activist José María Riba, a former head of Cannes Critics’ Week, driving drive behind San Sebastian’s Movies in Progress and co-founder of Espagnolas en Paris, died on Could 2 from most cancers, exacerbated by the results of COVID-19. He was 68.

Along with his loss of life, Spain and Latin America loses one of many founding fathers of a world Spanish-language arthouse sector which flowered from the flip of the century, an unflagging, perpetually smiling, convivial advisor to a brand new technology of Spanish-language expertise which modified the face of Latin American and Spanish cinema and fabricated from their movies the most effective issues that these territories needed to provide.

Born in Barcelona, Riba relocated to Paris the place he spent the remainder of his skilled life. The transfer was his making. Working as a journalist for Liberation and, from 1982 to 2017, France Press, Riba delivered to the Spanish-language cinema a conviction – unquestioned in Paris, the world capital of arthouse cinema – of the competition, market and viewers potential for Spanish-language movies – one thing that for a lot of was close to afterthought within the 1980s and 1990s.

A  movie author with a encyclopedic data of cinema, Riba rose to the august function of head of Cannes Critics’ Week over 2000-01, programming “Amores Perros,” the characteristic debut of Alejandro González Iñarritu and Guillermo Arriaga, starring a younger Gael García Bernal. It went on to win the Critics’ Week Grand Prix, snag a Lionsgate distribution deal and launch the worldwide profession of its director, screenwriter and star.

Riba spent his life looking for to create bridges between Spain and Latin America and France, an engine of the arthouse financial system the place distributors typically nursed Spanish-language motion pictures to raised outcomes at cinema theaters than of their Hispanic international locations of origin.

That drive minimize varied methods. A member of San Sebastian Pageant from a young age in 1980, as a brand new Latin American cinema took off from the flip of the century, due to renewed state backing, so did Riba.

In 2002, linking to the Toulouse Latin America Movie Pageant in France, he launched San Sebastian’s Movies in Progress, whose first version captured the early power of the just-launching New Argentine Cinema, together with, for instance, Ana Katz’s debut “El juego de la silla.”

In 2005, Riba launched Espagnolas en Paris, which went on to prepare the Paris Spanish movie competition, Diferente! and, from 2008, Small is Biutiful, a Spain-France Spanish undertaking discussion board.

The occasion – plus Rendezvous a l’Opera, a Spanish gross sales agent assembly per week or so earlier than – helped open the doorways to Spanish cinema in France. It additionally stated a lot about José Maria Riba. To make it profitable, he referred to as on a few of the largest playmakers in France: the Cannes Movie Market, the Ile-de-France Movie Fee, Bruno Deloye at Canal Plus’ Cine Plus, and dozens of French producers, gross sales brokers and distributors from the cream of its arthouse cinema.

The cinema Riba selected to current at Small is Biutiful, nevertheless, was usually probably the most tough to position in the marketplace, first characteristic titles from close to unknown auteurs, micro-budget art-films. But tasks first showcased there went on to win San Sebastian’s Golden Shell – Carlos Vermut’s “Magical Woman” – and Cannes Critics’ Week: Oliver Laxe’s “Mimosas.”

To interrupt the ice between Spanish administrators, producers and screenwriters and what might appear an intimidating French business, Riba – who would have been a bon vivant had he not labored so onerous – set the lunch at a hospitable restaurant, for years Le Patio Opéra, simply again from Le Place d’Opera.

The assembly established a undertaking discussion board mannequin which might have been replicated in different international locations overseas, however then different international locations didn’t have a José María Riba.

Over 2016-19, Riba took up the reins of France’s Lumières Awards, respiration a breath of recent air into the establishment, the Lumières Academy acknowledged on Sunday. He additionally co-programmed works in progress sections at Mexico’s Morelia Pageant and Argentina’s Ventana Sur – one other occasion of a  decades-long programming collaboration with the Cannes Pageant.

“What disappointment – José María Riba’s passing,” Gael García Bernal tweeted on Saturday. “He’s one in all these individuals whom you seemed to for approval after each movie. And to chortle actually quite a bit, impartial of whether or not issues had turned out nicely or not.”

That may very well be stated by a number of hundred filmmakers. But Riba by no means made a problem of his enormous vary of contacts, whom he usually gave essential assist to initially of their careers, nor his huge data of cinema.

“Spanish cinema owes you numerous, particularly its small, intimate and private cinema,” Spanish filmmaker Manuel Martin Cuenca wrote on Friday in Spain’s Academia journal. “You knew a lot about cinema, like few individuals I’ve ever met in my life, however you by no means boasted about it. You simply smiled and tried to assist us.”

Having meticulously curated an business prize showcase, he would step again and let others have the limelight. There’s not one picture of him in Shutterstock.

José María Riba is survived by associate Eva Roelens and daughters Luna and Saioa Riba, who has adopted in her father’s footsteps co-heading the business division on the San Sebastian Movie Pageant.

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