Mac Chakaveh – Marbella’s Movie Man


Marbella will be buzzing with actors, directors, producers, and other movers and shakers from the movie world as the Marbella International Film Festival gets underway.

Article by Giles Brown

Marbella International Film festival

Now in its 18th year, the Festival, which runs from October 4-8, will highlight more than 30 films, some of them world premieres. These include shorts, feature films, and documentaries. The films are screened in their original versions with English and Spanish subtitles. The social aspect of the festival, based at the Hard Rock Hotel Marbella, includes several glamorous evening events, and culminates in the Gala Awards Ceremony at the Melia Marbella Banús on October 8.

The festival is the brainchild of film producer Mac Chakaveh, who recognized the importance of Marbella hosting this type of cultural event with an international image. Over the years, Mac has carefully curated a wide variety and genre of films from all over the world that have become the festival’s trademark. However, he became involved in the film industry almost by accident.

Mac Chakaveh, Director of the Marbella International Film Festival
Mac Chakaveh, Director of the Marbella International Film Festival

Why Marbella?

“My main business is property and construction,” Mac says, “but in the late 90s, I invested in a TV company as a business angel. I knew nothing about the film industry but became involved because it soon became clear to me that I was dealing with creatives who didn’t know how to run a company! I started to work with filmmakers who didn’t know how to promote their work, so I came up with the idea of a film festival in Marbella.”

“Marbella has become known for its reputation for networking as it has a very relaxed atmosphere. I have been going to Cannes for so many years, and I can’t remember one year when it hasn’t rained. And when it rains in Cannes, it really pours! There’s a huge amount of snobbery there – as a newcomer, you can’t get anywhere. You can’t even get into a hotel to get a cup of coffee if you haven’t got a badge. The talent doesn’t really get a chance, and all the really big deals are done on the boats in the harbour.

Celebrating International Cinema

“Here, the festival is entirely different because we bring the people in and keep them together. They are booked in the same hotel, they attend the same after-parties, so after four days of hanging out together, the networking value is so much more. That’s why the regulars come back, and the newcomers visit because they want to see what is going on!”

Underlining the international aspect of the awards, last year’s Best Feature went to Secrets, a Brazilian drama directed and starring the talented Emiliano Ruschel. Kevin McNally was a deservedly popular winner as Best Actor for Musketeer – the Pirates of The Caribbean star looking relaxed on his first visit to Marbella.

Mac Chakaveh surrounded by festival guests at a screening
Mac Chakaveh surrounded by festival guests at a screening

The Allure for Producers

“Sometimes we get films from places that I have to look at the map to find out where they are from” laughs Mac. “As well as the range of locations close by, Marbella has the facilities. If you bring in an actor who is a bit of a diva, he or she doesn’t want to live in a caravan in the middle of a desert. Here, they can stay in a luxury hotel, and within an hour, they are on the set. Some of the actors and producers have become regulars, especially the British crime franchise Rise of the Footsoldier. They love it here!”

“The other thing that producers like is the promotion package. If you are bringing your film here, we have a promotion package, and we can promote your film. You can put your investors in a nice five-star hotel, give them a red-carpet screening, take them to a gala dinner, and then there are the after-parties…”

This Year’s Highlights

Underlining the global aspect, last year’s Marbella International Film Festival screened films from countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States, Ukraine, Brazil, Georgia, Honduras, China and South Korea. Actors like Kevin McNally, Nicole Faraday, Terry Stone, and Emily Wyatt were present at the gala. Other famous actors at previous galas have included William Shatner, Steven Berkoff, Kris Marshall, Craig Fairbrass and Timothy Spall.

Highlights of this year’s festival include hard-hitting documentaries such as The Wagner Group: Putin’s Mercenaries that uncovers the true face of the organization.

The Invisible – Modern Slavery in Europe documents the plight of the 28 million people who live in working conditions considered to be modern slavery. The film tells the story of the 100,000 harvest workers in Huelva, Spain, who talk about their lives.

On a lighter note, the Marbella International Film Festival also includes screenings of “Nessie”. The British comedy sees the villagers of Loch Ness trying to prove Nessie is real to receive $50 million bequeathed to them in a will. Kindling is a coming-of-age drama that sees a group of young men returning to their hometown to turn their friend’s final days into a celebration of life and friendship.

Finally, the successful Rise of the Footsoldier franchise is back with the latest chapter in the saga. Rise of the Footsoldier: Vengeance sees anti-hero Tate embarking on a rampage to avenge a violent death. As well as being one of the most popular features at the festival, the Footsoldier franchise has gained a reputation for having the liveliest showing and best after-party in Marbella.

“I’m looking forward to a fun festival this year,” says Mac. “Marbella is a truly great setting. So much so that people come here for the film festival, fall in love with the place, and a few years later, I see them living here!”

Learn more about the 2023 edition of the festival and get your tickets here.