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Les Arcs showcases Work in Progress features

Details revealed of 11 upcoming European features seeking distribution and sales agents.

The Les Arcs European Film Festival hosted its second annual Work in Progress event, offering distributors a first look at forthcoming features and documentaries from across Europe.

Hosted by the festival’s artistic director, Frederic Boyer, directors and producers introduced short clips of their films before discussing the productions.

Last year’s batch of seven films featured Daniele Cipri’s It Was the Son and Baltasar Kormakur’s The Deep, both of which have been screened in festivals throughout the year and are up for Les Arcs’ Crystal Arrow award this year.

The presentations took place 2,000m up in the French ski resort on Sunday morning (Dec 16).

Work in Progress titles

The Unsaved (Romania)
Dir: Igor Cobileanski
Pro: Daniel Burlac - Saga Film

A bittersweet drama about Viorel, a small-time drug dealer living in a little town in Moldova. His best friend drags him in his insane dream of flying, his mother urges him to start making a living and the woman he loves is about to leave with her lover who is about to be released from custody by a corrupt cop. Viorel decides to straighten up his life, get a decent job and try to save the girl from a destructive relationship.

Burlac: “It may be a strange movie but its atmosphere makes it really strong. It was made with 100% Romanian money but was shot in Moldova with a Moldavian crew.”

XL (Iceland)
Dir: Marteinn Thorsson
Pro: Marteinn Thorsson – Tenderlee

Leif Sigurdarson (Olafur Darri Olafsson) is a party hound, boozer and womanizer – as well as a member of Iceland’s parliament – who is ordered to go into rehab by his old friend, the prime minister. But before he is committed, he throws one more party and invites an underworld kingpin, his lawyer and his young lover Æsa (Maria Birta) – the daughter of his best friend.

Thorsson: “I wrote the script in a month and shot it fast, avoiding script development and shooting on digital. It’s a rollercoaster into oblivion. I produced the film with my own money and got a government grant from the Icelandic Film Centre, after five months of struggle, to fund post production. The film is edited and locked 10 days ago. It should be ready in January.”

September (Greece/Germany)
Dir: Penny Panayotopoulou
Pro: Thanos Karathanos’ Twenty Twenty Vision (Greece), Pallas Film (Germany)

The story of Anna who works at Ikea, lives with her dog Manu in a small apartment and falls for the family who live opposite her place after her dog dies. It is a story about loneliness and the way it sneaks into the cracks of our lives.

Panayotopoulou: “It is a simple film about trust, fear and love. I wanted to recreate the energy of cinema of the 1960s – not concentrating on story but focussing on film-making without it being boring.”

The Coalminer’s Day (France)
Dir: Gael Mocaer
Pro: Xenia Maingot – Eaux Vives Production

A documentary about coal mine workers in the Ukraine, who endure harsh conditions in a bid to win an annual state prize and an extra €5.

Mocaer: “I spent six months filming in the Ukraine with these miners, some of whom are now dead. I saw 10 mines before choosing this one as many use dynamite – not allowed in the Ukraine – so it was hard to find a mine where we could shoot. But I wanted to show the poetry and humour too.”

Maingot: “We need to mix the film and grade it. Editing is complete and we are approaching festivals and looking for distribution.”

Dying Beyond Their Means (Murieron por Encina de sus Posibilidades) (Spain)
Dir: Isaki Lacuesta
Pro: Bastien Martin, Rafael Portela – La Termita

A tragicomedy. The film-makers say: “As we never considered mainstream and auteur film to be incompatible categories, we want to make a popular movie that could also be seen in the most prestigious festivals.”

Portela: “It’s a comedy based on real characters, reflecting on the current economic situation. We could not get financed by state funds or TV so these well-known actors worked for no money because they believe in the film. We are here [in Les Arcs] because we think the theme is interesting for all Europe. The first cut will be available in May.”

Field of Dogs (Poland/Sweden)
Dir: Lech Majewski
Pro: Freddy Olsson – Bokomotiv (Sweden), Angelus Silesius (Poland)

Centres on a young man who quits his job as a literature professor to work at a supermarket, following the death of two friends in a car accident, for which he blames himself. It has a budget of $2m and is Majewski’s follow up to The Mill and the Cross.

Olsson: “We have support from the Polish Film Institute and have secured a pre-sale in Italy. Otherwise, it’s free. It was shot on the Red camera and editing is done. Have some sound to do so it will be ready in a month.”

Long Bright Days (Un Coup de Feu dans L’eau) (Georgia, France, Germany)
Dir: Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Gross
Pro: Guillaume de Seille - Arizona Films, Polar Films, Studio 99, Indiz

Set in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1992, it focusses on two 14-year-old girls dealing with the challenges of male dominance, early marriage and young friendship. The film is a German-Georgian-French co-pro with the participation of ZDF/Arte, BKM, Georgian Film Center and Fonds Sud Cinema.

Ekvtimishvili: “Our casting took over a year. We saw teens from more than 100 schools and we were in rehearsal for a long time so when we started to shoot we were all close. The film is close to being finished.”

Concrete Night (Finland, Sweden)
Dir: Pirjo Honkasalo
Pro: Mark Lwoff – Bufo (Finland)

Opening in a cramped, concrete-jungle home, the elder of two brothers is getting ready to go and serve his prison sentence. During Ilkka’s last 24 hours of freedom, younger brother Simo follows the brother he admires through a fateful night.

Lwoff: “The film centres on that fragile moment between childhood and adulthood. We shot on the Alexa using anamorphic lenses and switched it from colour to black and white in the edit – because, simply, it looks better. We had the first rough cut yesterday. It will be finished in the spring.”

This Is What It Is (Esto es lo que Hay) (France)
Dir: Léa Rinaldi
Pro: Léa Rinaldi - aLéa Film

A documentary about Cuban social-rap poets Los Aldeanos (The Villagers) from the director of Behind Jim Jarmusch.

Rinaldi: “This is the portrait of a new generation and revolution in Cuba – a project of resistance rather than dissidence. I have been filming for three years and am still in production. We have finance from CNC (France) but looking for distribution and partners to complete financing.”

Love Eternal (Ireland, Luxembourg)
Dir: Brendan Muldowney
Pro: Conor Barry - SPFilms / Macdara Kelleher - Fastnet Films

Based on the Japanese novel Loving the Dead from acclaimed author Kei Oishi, the film centres on a death-fixated young man who – after shutting himself away for 10 years – is forced to venture out into a world that he no longer understands. Muldowney’s follow-up to debut Savage, it has a budget of $2.8m (€2.2m) and is co-produced by Luxembourg’s Red Lion, the Netherlands’ Rinkel Film and Japan’s T.O. Entertainment.

Morgan Bushe (producer): “We talked about making the film in Japan and in Japanese, before saying ‘Let’s do it in Ireland’. The film is locked. We are planning to insert VFX and sound mix. We hope to have something in January/February and are looking for a sales agent.”

A Spell To Ward Off The Darkness (UK)
Dir: Ben Russell, Ben Rivers
Pro: Julie Gayet, Nadia Turincev - Rouge International

A non-fiction feature in three parts that refers to the cinema of Jean Rouch (Chronicle of a Summer), Lisandro Alonso (La Libertad) and Jean-Luc Godard (Sympathy for the Devil). It was shot on colour Super 16mm in Finland, Norway and Estonia.

Russell: “It is about the condition of living in a moment to find spiritual engagement without religion. Each part of the film is different but all three feature musician Robert A.A. Lowe, someone not from the space but who can be really present. The edit is done but we still have to do sound mixing and colour correction.”

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