Nearly €5m awarded to 16 productions.

Eurimages’ Board of Management has unanimously recommended that the Council of Europe should renew Roberto Olla’s mandate as Executive Director for a third two-year term running from July 1.

Since taking up the post at the Strasbourg-based fund on July 1 2008, Olla has overseen the welcoming of three new member states – Albania, the Russian Federation and Georgia – to Eurimages’ executive body and the setting up of a digital equipment support programme for cinemas.

Under Olla’s guidance and with the approval of the Board of Management and its President Jobst Plog, the fund has also carried out various reforms “aimed at meeting the needs and expectations of industry professionals and fostering greater transparency in the project selection process.”

Changes to Eurimages’ regulations in the last four years, for example, extended the use of collection accounts and made them compulsory for those co-productions with budgets equal to or greater than €3m.

Moreover, last year saw the introduction of the requirement in the regulations for co-production support that evidence proving that at least 50% of the financing is confirmed in each territory of the co-production and must imperatively be provided at the latest by the date of the submission of the project.

In addition, another alteration to the regulations from January 2011 had allowed the Executive Director to agree to up to half of the shooting taking place before the Board of Management’s examination of the application “in the event of unavoidable and duly justified reasons.”

The recommendation to extend Olla’s contract was made at this week’s sitting of the Board of Management in Luxembourg when a total of €4.95m was awarded to 16 European co-productions.

The largest amount - €650,000 - went to Michel Gondry’s Boris Vian adaptation L’Ecume des Jours, to be produced by France’s Brio Films and StudioCanal with Belgium’s Scope Pictures with Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris set to headline, while €550,000 each was granted to new projects by Pawel Pawlikowski and Erik Poppe.

Pawlikowski’s Epic is being structured as a Georgian-UK-Russian-French co-production. It is a gentle black comedy about a confused, washed up British director who gets invited by a nascent state to make a national epic in an obscure Caucasus Republic. The cast includes Ethan Hawke as the filmmaker, Ben Kingsley as the dictator, Christopher Lambert as the film’s crazed star and Chulpan Khamatova as the beauty and brains.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Poppe’s Grenade – about a war photographer who has to decide between her family and work - is being produced by Paradox Rettigher with Ireland’s Newgrange Pictures and the Swedish outpost of Zentropa International.

Other projects supported include Andrea Staka’s Cure/Girls, to be produced by Switzerland’s Okofilm Productions with Croatia’s Ziva and Jasmila Zbanic’s Sarajevo-based Deblokada Film (Staka was the director of the controversial Golden Leopard winner Das Fräulein in 2006), Bulgarian Gueorgui Balabanov’s political drama The File Petrov, to be co-produced by Camera Ltd. with Germany’s Ostlicht Filmproduktion and France’s Arsam International, and Nanouk Leopold’s literary adaptation It’s All So Quiet which reunites Dutch production house Circe Film with Germany’s Coin Film who had previously worked together on Leopold’s The Brownian Movement.

This session also saw funding going to Eurimages’ second majority Russian co-production – Konstantin Lopushansky’s The Role Of A Life Time, to be produced with partners from Belarus and Finland – and to Croatian filmmaker Vinko Bresan’s The Priest’s Children which was pitched at the Connecting Cottbus East-West co-production market last November.