April 18, 2006

Ace Spanish reporter finds lens mightier than pen

By Pamela Rolfe

MADRID (Hollywood Reporter) - Few investigative journalists
can say their articles altered the course of history. Those who
can are studied in journalism schools and become the subject of

Rarely do they switch careers to become film producers,
successfully bringing their probes to the big screen. But that
is exactly the tale of Melchor Miralles, arguably Spain's
premier investigative journalist -- now the head of production
house Mundo Ficcion.

For any non-Spaniard asking about 47-year-old Miralles, his
admirers compare him to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post and
Watergate fame.

After a series of documentaries, a TV miniseries and a
small-scale feature film, Miralles took his big step onto the
movie scene with "El Lobo" (The Wolf), the true story of an
undercover government agent responsible for dismantling the
leaders of the Basque terrorist group ETA in the 1970s -- a
story he had covered as a reporter. The $9 million movie reaped
a healthy 1.5 million admissions in 2004.

"I realized a while ago that the horizon for the media
broadens considerably when it comes to audiovisual, and so I
decided to take the risk and move to television and then,
later, to film," Miralles says.

His subsequent expose of an undercover, state-run,
anti-terrorist group that kidnapped and assassinated 30 people
in the course of a war against Basque separatists is the story
that the news hound-cum-movie producer has chosen for his next
feature film, "GAL," named after the so-called Anti-Terrorist
Liberation Group.

This investigation is largely credited with the fall of
former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez in the 1996 elections
after 13 years in power, and with landing several top brass
from the Interior Ministry in prison.

"The majority of people who go to the movies are between 14
and 25 years old and have no idea about these important
events," Miralles says. "We want to attract the young audiences
who are curious about Spanish history and tell the story using
the tools of cinema."

In the form of "All the President's Men," "GAL" follows the
true story of how investigative journalism uncovered the dirty

"It was helpful having such access to Melchor and being
able to tell the tale through the eyes of one of the main
players of such an important story," says "GAL" scriptwriter
Antonio Onetti, who, like director Miguel Courtois, also worked
on "Wolf." The $7 million project began shooting in January.

Miralles says he already has ideas for more films in
keeping with the Spanish contemporary history theme, including
one that would close a trilogy on terrorism after "Wolf" and


"We're going to stick with the theme of movies based on
true stories," Miralles says, "because that's where one feels
most comfortable when one is a journalist."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter