Spain’s Conecta Fiction & Entertainment Forum Fetes Brazil and Portugal Amidst a Myriad of Activities

Now on its 8th edition, the international TV forum Conecta Fiction & Entertainment (CF&E), held in the ancient Spanish city of Toledo from June 18 to 21, is turning its focus to Brazil and Portugal.

The South American country is haltingly reactivating its audiovisual industry under President Lula de Silva’s new government, which earmarked nearly $1 billion for the sector last year. Meanwhile, Portugal has become a thriving hub for Portuguese-language premium dramas and launched a new 30% cash refund incentive program in April to lure higher-budget film and TV productions to shoot in the country.

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Conecta expects a delegation of 50 Portuguese and 30 Brazilian participants, who together represent “a market of more than 217 million potential viewers and a long history of content production,” said Conecta’s founder-director, Géraldine Gonard, at the press conference held on June 4.

The forum will be offering a panoply of activities with 175 speakers, 49.1% of whom will be women, said Gonard. “Each year, we have aimed for gender equity among the speakers, but it hasn’t been easy as there are still not that many women in positions of power,” Gonard told Variety, adding that there are not that many female producers in the biz either. “Despite being highly qualified, women must continue their struggle to achieve parity in salaries and positions,” she noted.

Among Conecta’s 70+ activities, which include networking opportunities, pitching sessions, panels, keynotes and workshops, is Conecta Woman, which focuses on women in the business.

New this year is Conecta Vibes, where yoga and fitness sessions are offered on the mornings of June 19 and 20, in addition to the traditional walking tours of the Unesco World Heritage site.

Also new is Conecta Digital, which touches on the hot-button issues of AI, the metaverse, extended reality and immersive experiences. The new parallel section will offer various activities and includes the Conecta Digital Award, which will be presented to the top five projects best integrating digital creation tools, an award that includes individual mentoring sessions, and in-person accreditation for an offshoot Madrid event in November. “We’ll be focusing on the use of AI as a vital tool,” said Gonard, who also pointed out an all-important session on how to unravel Spain’s multiple tax incentives and a masterclass on entertainment marketing presented by the Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.)

“Americans are the lords of marketing, not so the Europeans nor anyone else in the world. It’s a shame when you see the amount of good product there is. Many don’t know how to sell it, so the discussion will be on how marketing works, to what extent it should be used, etc.” said Gonard.

This year’s highlights include an exclusive presentation of Disney+ series, “Vidas bandidas,” a new Brazilian action drama series from Star Original Productions about two gang members who rob tourists in Rio de Janeiro.

Disney also presents “Ayla & the Mirrors,” a new scripted YA series from Disney+ Spain in which music is a key element. A panel comprising Disney reps, producer Federation Spain, and music supervisor Plus Music will discuss the challenges they faced in creating an original youth-targeted IP with franchise potential.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, a repeat sponsor of the coveted development contract for the winner of the pitch sessions, will preside over two panels that will review the scripted and non-scripted titles set to play on its linear and digital platforms: historical crime series “Internal Affairs,” produced by Mediacrest; international thriller “Scar” by Plano a Plano; docuseries “Megamix Brutal” by Producciones del Barrio and the multi-award winning co-production “This is Not Sweden.”

The closing night gala will be preceded by a preview of the procedural “Weiss & Morales,” a new co-production between RTVE and Germany’s ZDF, which was filmed in the Canary Islands.

Founded in 2017, the itinerant forum began its first two years in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, followed by three years in Pamplona, Navarra, and is now in its third year in Toledo. Toledo has been popular given its proximity to Madrid, which is just 45 miles away.

“Conecta serves as a bridge between two continents that we hope will also help forge relationships between the traditional producer and the content creator,” noted Gonard.

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