Who’s Driving the Canary Islands’ New Wave? A Drill-Down on Players and Banner Titles

In 2009, nine production companies were operating in the Canary Islands using ZEC preferential tax rates for being established here. Flash forward 15 years, there are now  31 companies doing live action. Below, some of the Canary Islands pacemaker production companies, and titles to track:

Anaga Media Productions

More from Variety

The Canary Islands’ newest kid on the block, founded in June 2023 by two U.S.-raised Venezuelans: Gisberg Bermúdez, director of hit chiller “Whistler: the Origins,” and actress-turned-producer Malena González, now based out of Tenerife’s San Cristobal de La Laguna. There it hit the ground offering production services on “Bruha,” which shot in November, directed and co-written by Bermúdez for Elizabeth Avellán. Currently in post, it stars Clara Rosager McCaul Lombardi, Jeff Fahey and González. Now developing “Black Lotus” which will be Anaga’s first production. Interested in both international co-production and offering production services, say González and Bermúdez.

Buendía Estudios Canarias 

The biggest of Spanish arrivals in the Canaries. Launched in Madrid 202o as a joint venture of Movistar Plus+ parent Telefonica and broadcast network Atresmedia, and a producer on “Veneno,” “Cardo” and “Offworld,” now operating in Madrid, Bizkaia and the Canaries but producing the brunt of its titles from its offices in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. “We’re looking to broaden our scope towards a more global content strategy, either originated at Buendía Estudios Canarias, or by building different local and international partnerships and co-productions,” it tells Variety.

Calibrando Producciones

A doc short and feature specialist founded in 2010 by Elisa Torres and Octavio Guerra who broke out with “Searching for Oscar,” world premiered at the 2018 Berlinale Berlin Critics’ Week. Guerra drew side rave reactions for his latest doc feature, last year’s “I Had a Life,” picked up by Begin Again Films. Now eying international co-production for his feature debut, “What’s On Your Mind.”

Cabo Sur Films

Based out of the Canary Island of Las Palmas, self-described as a young production company that explores the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, telling stories with a powerful social and cultural background. At Locarno last August it made a splash with a project that ticks multiple boxes, “Ever and the Sharks.” Part coming-of-age tale, part high-seas adventure, part eco-drama, it tracks leading marine biologist Alejandra Mendoza Pfennig and Ever Apolo, a grieving teen boy, as they set off together to geotag whale sharks off the Peruvian coast for the first time.

3 Doubles Producciones

Tenerife-based animation studio 3 Doubles regularly over-delivers, as was the case with last year’s “Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow,” which grossed $3.7 million worldwide. The studio has two films turning heads at this year’s Marché du Film: “SuperKlaus,” a Canada-Spain co-production between 3Doubles Producciones, Capitán Araña and PVP Media, sold by Pink Parrot and coming to cinemas in November; and “Flamingo Flamenco,” a co-production with Studio100 currently in pre-production.

Garajonay Productions

Another new kid on the Canary Islands’ block, run by Fede Pajaro and Carlota Amor setting up shop in the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 2022 to make films with “talent with good scripts focused on actors or looking for great performances.” Currently producing a series, a documentary and two films: Black comedy “Uncovering Lucia,” starring Hugo Silva (“Marbella”) and Susana Abaitua (“Crazy About Her”); and father-son horror film “House of Atreus,” headlined by “Money Heist’s” Jaime Llorente. “We would like to produce at least four films per year in the Canary Islands with local teams but attracting significant international talent,” says Amor.  

El Hombre Invisible 

Founded in 2011 in Tenerife by José Ramallo, best known for “Canary Islands of Legend,” an eight-part TV series, based in each Canary Island, narrating 17th century legends – werewolves, Marian apparitions, love stories – written and directed by Ramallo himself. Produced with Fantastic Fulanito and RadioTelevision Canaria (RTVC), the series shows how our idiosyncrasy is hidden, the way of being of the Canary Islanders shared with the Latin American Hispanidad, with which we are united by so many myths and memories,” Ramallo says. Currently in development on “You Will Lose the Canary Islands,” about how the CIA used Canary terrorist org MPAIAC to push Spain into NATO.

Las Hormigas Negras

Run by Luis Luque and Mario Blanco, set up in 2013 in Telde, Gran Canaria, behind 2021 fiction feature film “La piel del volcán,” from Armando Ravelo, a story of loves and hatred set during the 15th century Spanish conquest of the Islands, the post-Civil War and present. Current productions: Doc feature “Fishermen from the Desert” from Ayoze O’Shanahan, exploring the fishing links between the Canaries and Mauritania, and Guillermo Magariños’ feature “Dark Party,” a dying carpenter’s redemption tale.

La Popos Producciones/Match Point

Both launched this year by Manuel Vega, backing Marina Seresesky’s “Islas,” starring Ana Belen and Vega, and “Fragmentos,” “a captivating story of love, resilience and freedom” written by producer Frank Ariza, directed by Horacio Alcala and starring Emma Suárez (“Julieta”). Both link Ariza’s AF Films and Match Point, “Fragmentos” also being partnered by BTF Media and E-Media Gallery.

Tinglado Films 

Based in Garachico, Tenerife, a class act and historic production house, set up by David Baute in 2005, also artistic director of MiradasDocs from 2008. Currently producing climate change triptych “Black Butterflies,” selected for Annecy’s Contrechamp, Locarno Open Doors winner “Three Bullets, “ and teen pregnancy themed “Sugar Island,” both the latter from the Dominican Republic. “Sugar Island,” in post, looks bound for a significant fest. Meanwhile, María Pulido, “Black Butterflies” art director, is prepping her first animated short as a director, “Tsunami,” as Tinglado consolidates as an animation producer. 

Tourmalet Films

Run by Omar Al Abdul Razzak Martínez and Manuel Arango, a Tenerife company making features, including Razzak’s, and dating back to 2013 when it co-produced Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s “Stockholm.” “Killing Crabs,” directed by Razzak was one Canarian film to make a splash in the Islands themselves, attracting “both movie buffs and people who barely watch superhero movies to theaters. At least that’s what happened in Tenerife,” says Razzak. Working animation, fiction features and docs, Tourmalet is now prepping toon picks with Madrid’s Blanca Bonet and Cuba’s Gabriela Fernández Galán, live action movies such as Razzak’s “Dolor Fantasma” and Alois Sandner’s  “Fuego en la Boca,” and docs from Colombia’s Felipe Rugeles and Argentina’s Rodrigo Demirjian.          

El Viaje Films

20 years old and now pursuing various growth axes: Nursing new talent (Macu Machín, with “Undergrowth”); stepping up the ambition of productions which explore Canarian signs of identity, such as co-founder José Ayalón’s “La Lucha”; and driving into international co-production on filmmakers just one or two titles short perhaps of major auteur status (Theo Court’s “Three Dark Nights”). A symbol of Canary Islands resilience and now expansion.

Volcano Films

A Canary Islands veteran. Launched in 1994, and over a 30 year-history, working a two-way street, producing Tenerife-born Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s best new director Goya winner “Intact” (2001), Julio Medem’s “Chaotic Ana” (2008) and Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s “Evolution” (2015) while servicing Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (2014).

Current, Recent Canary Island Titles

A near score or of features which have recently caught attention on the festival scene, in international and in Spain, or bid to do so:

“Black Butterflies,” (Tinglado Films)

Now set to screen in Annecy’s Contrechamp, animated feature from David Baute at Santa Cruz de Tenerife-based Tinglado Films (“Climate Exodus”) and Barcelona’s Ikiru Films. It depicts three women from very different parts of the world who all lose everything from global warming, emigrating to survive.

“Ever & the Sharks,” (Cabo Sur Films)

Playing the Malaga Festival Fund & Co-Production Event (MAFF), Lucía Pérez’s “Ever & the Sharks,” (“El niño y el tiburón”), produced by Chémi Pérez at Cabo Sur Filmsin Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, proved a standout at August’s Locarno Festival Match Me!, a part coming-of-age tale, part high-seas adventure and part eco-drama.

“Lo carga el diablo,” (Volcano Producciones)

The latest from Volcano with frustrated writer Tristán obliged to transport his brother’s corpse from Asturias to Benidorm. Guillermo Polo makes his directorial debut. Described as a black comedy road movie with absurdist touches with an indie tone but idiosyncratic Spanish characters and landscapes. World premiered April 10 at the Miami Film Festival.

“Fragmentos,” (Match Point)

Written by producer Frank Ariza, a banner project at Match Point, with a considerable cast of Emma Suarez, Manu Vega, José Luis García Pérez and Asia Ortega. Turning on “the complexity of human relationships,” the film is backed by not only Match Point but AF Films, BTF Media and

E-Media Canary.

“House of Atreus,” (Garajonay Productions)

Starring “Money Heist’s” Jaime Llorente and Antonio Resines (“Los Serrano”) with Llorente playing an estranged son forced to care for his father, just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “The boy soon discovers the epic magnitude and complexity of family caregiving.” David Hebrero (“Everyone Will Burn”) writes and directs.

“I’m Gonna Disappear,” (Musk Canarias)

Among its market premieres, Malaga’s Spanish Screenings featured Canary Island production “I’m Gonna Disappear,” (“Voy a desaparecer”), the tale of two estranged brothers’ reencounter, 10 years later, as one takes advantage of a prison furlough. Directed by Canarian Coré Ruiz, it is written with female lead Raquel Herrera.

“An Inhabited Volcano,” (Kino Rebelde)

Directed by David Panteleón and José Victor Fuentes, “An Inhabited Volcano”– a record of the eruption of the Tajogaite volcano on La Palma in September 2021 laced with audio messages from a group of childhood friends Whatsapp group –  world premiered at last year’s Visions du Réel in Switzerland, screened at the Valladolid Intl. Film Festival and awarded at Madrid’s Márgenes festival.

“Killing Crabs,” (Tourmalet Films)

In 2023, Tourmalet Films’ “Killing Crabs,” the fiction feature debut of Omar Al Abdul Razzak, won best Spanish film and actress (Paula Campos) at the Malaga Festival’s Zonacine showcase. A snapshot of a time and a place, Tenerife in the 1990s, it also took the Richard Leacock Award for best film at Las Palmas Film Festival. The film is a “family portrait seen through the eyes of a brother and sister whose childhoods are nearing their end,” Razzak explained to Variety last year.

“Marbella,” (Buendía Estudios Canarias)

A deep scripted series dive into the sybaritic criminal classes of La Costa del Sol, written by Alberto Marini and shot in hallmark kinetic style by Dani de la Torre, the duo re.teaming after “La Unidad.” “The tone is fiction, artificial and highly entertaining, but the background is painstakingly researched,” says exec producer Fran Araujo of the Movistar Plus+ Original, one of its banner series for first half 2024.

“The Nights of Tefía,” (Buendía Estudios Canarias)

The best received of 2023’s Malaga Film Festival, and one of Buendía and SVOD service Atresplayer’s finest achievements, lifting the lid for many Spaniards on Francoist labor camps, dumping grounds for undesirables, from political dissidents to the socially unruly and homosexuals. A compassionate,  multilayered take on the victims of repression, featuring a tearaway performance by Patrick Criado (“Riot Police”).

“The Outside,” (KV Films)

Also at Málaga’s MAFF, “The Outside” (“El Exterior”), the fiction feature debut of notable documentarian Víctor Moreno (“La ciudad oculta,” “Edificio España”) will shoot next year in the Canary Islands, set up at his archipelago-based KVFilms. Turning on a woman astronaut’s reconsideration of her perspective on the planet, it has been put through the Torino Script Lab 2022 y and Cinemart Rotterdam 2022 and won the top prizes at Abycine Lanza and Mecas.

“SuperKlaus,” (3 Doubles Producciones)

Co-produced by the Canary Islands’ 3 Doubles Producciones, animated family comedy “SuperKlaus” has been pre-sold over 40 countries by Pink Parrot, including key markets such as the U.K. (Kaleidoscope) and Germany (Splendid).

“Three Bullets,” (Tinglado Film)

Co-produced by Tinglado Film, and currently in development, Dominican Genésis Valenzuela’s “Three Bullets” (Tres Balas”) was one of the talking points of last year’s Locarno Festival, sweeping multiple awards in Open Doors. Mixing colonial history, displacement and criminal investigation, it weighs in as a hybrid fiction-doc-come-essay reconsideration of the 1992 murder of Dominican immigrant Lucrecia Pérez.

“Three Dark Nights,” (El Viaje Films)

*Pablo Larráin go-to actor Alfredo Castro will head the choral cast of “Three Dark Nights”(“Tres noches negras”), the third feature from Spanish-Chilean Theo Court (“White on White”), set up at El Viaje Films, and a standout at September’s San Sebastián Co-Production Forum and Ventana Sur’s Proyecta project competition.

“Uncovering Lucía,” (Garajonay Productions)

A banner title from recent arrival Garajonay, with a big Spanish star cast of Hugo Silva (“Marbella”) and Susana Abaitua (“Crazy About Her”), playing a judicial expert (Silva) and the murder suspects (Abaitua) he’s investigating and falls head-over-heels in love with. A “very black comedy” from Alberto Utrera (“Yrreal”)

*“Undergrowth,” (El Viaje Films)

“La Hojaresca,· from Machín, about three aging sisters settling their inheritance of family lands, played February’s Berlinale Forum, marking a milestone: the first 100% Canarian film to world premiere at the Berlinale. Playing at March’s Malaga Festival, it won best Spanish picture and director in parallel section Zonazine,

“What’s On Your Mind?” (Calibrando Producciones)

The feature fiction debut of documentarian Octavio Guerra. Zaida has sex with a boy she likes, as does another girl in her artistic swimming team. At a party, a video goes viral. Bullied so much by her team, she contemplates suicide. “A film about the abuse which all women suffer in life,” says producer Elisa Torres.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.