Four film projects from four southeastern European countries have received the first grants to be handed out by the Balkan Fund, a script development initiative created in November 2002 by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF).

The projects to receive 10,000 Euros each are:
The Journey, writer/director/producer Artan Minarolli, Albania;
Grbavica, writer/ director Jasmila Zbanich, producer Dhamir Ibrahimovic, Bosnia & Herzegovina;
Small Crime, writer/director/producer Christos Georgiou, Serbia- Montenegro and Cyprus;
The Coat, writer /director Kutlug Ataman, producer Gulen Hurley, Turkey.

The winners were announced during the ongoing TIFF by a five-member international jury composed of Cannes Cinefondation's Georges Goldenstern, producer and former head of the Goteborg Film Festival Gunnar Bergdahl, Glasgow Film Fund's Leonard Crooks, Slovenian Film Producers president Dunja Klemenc and Christina Kallas, artistic director of the Balkan Fund.

French producer and head of the Amiens Film Festival Fund, Thierry Lenouvel and Athens-based director-producer Lucia Rikaki are attached to the Fund's executive team.

The Fund's awards are meant as seed money towards script development and are reserved to feature film projects coming from countries of the region: Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Fyrom, Greece, Rumania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.

Funding is provided by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

The four winning projects were announced after a three day pitching session by the directors/screenwriters of eleven shortlisted projects. The eleven projects were selected earlier this year by an international team of seven readers also present at the pitching sessions .

Readers included Pandora's Karl Baumgartner, Down Town Pictures and former Locarno Film Festival head Marco Muller, ASAP's Cedomir Kollar and Unlimited Films' Philippe Avril.

Applications for the next Balkan Fund awards during the 45th TIFF (Nov 19-28 2005) are open. Submissions deadline is April 2005.

The Balkan Fund forms part of the Coordination scheme of the European Film Funds, alongside the Dutch Hubert Bals Fund, the Fondazione Monte Cinema Verita, the Goteborg Film Festival Film Fund and the Berlinale Film Fund.