Works In Progress winner is Nataliya Kudryashova for Pioneer Heroes.

The Les Arcs Film Festival’s CoProduction Village wrapped its sixth edition on December 15, including the Works-In-Progress, Projects in Development, Low Budget Film Forum and for the first year, the Music Village Pro.

The Voice by György Pálfi was chosen as the prize winner for the Projects in Development, earning the Hungarian filmmaker €4,000 as part of a first time prize-fund sponsored by ARTE.

The film centers around a young boy in search of his father who went missing in Stockholm thirty years ago. Pálfi, a Les Arcs regular, attributes much of his success to the CoProduction Village. “I am very supportive of this festival, it has benefitted me immensely over the years. But never did I think I would win this award.”

For the second year, Digimage Classics offered a €6000 prize in post-production services for the Works-In-Progress section, this year given to first-time feature director Nataliya Kudryashova for Pioneer Heroes. (More on the Works In Progress here.)

Jury member Conor Barry commended the high quality and eclectic mix of the projects presented, though ultimately gave nod to Russia’s Kudryashova, along with associate producer Natalia Drozd, because of the film’s paradoxical subject matter. “The pioneer movement has become invisible, but one that is still capable of exerting a hugely powerful shadow over the lives of millions. We feel it can tell an audience a story that has not been told before, and the well selected clips, in their consistent tone and emotional force, allow us to experience this political and personal drama,” said Barry.

While the Village maintains a set number of 300 delegates to maintain a more relaxed, approachable environment - producers and filmmakers attest to this year being the busiest, with some having up to 35 meetings per day over the course of the four-day market.

Les Arcs CEO Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin and Head of Industry Vanja Kaludjercic attribute the increased business with the unique slot in the festival calendar, preceding bigger markets such as Rotterdam and Berlin. The two also credit the intimate set-up of Les Arcs (1950) as an ideal location for filmmakers, sales agents, producers and distributors to meet throughout the organised events in the day and more informal meet-ups in the evening.

“This festival is special since it is set in a bubble-like environment - something a bit like the UK TV drama The Prisoner,” laughs Kaludjercic. “And because the village consists of a small street lined with a few chalets and restaurants, this allows delegates to easily find each other.”

Plus, as Kaludjercic reminds, where else can you attend igloo parties, biathlon competitions, screenings set on mountains in renovated first aid offices (Ruben Ostland’s Force Majeure) or attend meetings while traveling on ski lifts or even in the hotel spa!”

The increased number of co-productions is another obvious reason the festival is growing in popularity. To meet the demand, the festival increased its official time slots for meetings.

“I have been coming to this event since the start, and I can remember when we had a total of five meetings set up, and four cancelled. Now, we are taking meetings from sunrise to sunset,” said Maria Ekerhovd, Producer What Will People Say.

Fleurantin, along with Artistic Director Frederic Boyer, also noted an increase in submissions across the sections, giving further rise the village is becoming an essential space in connecting European film professionals.

Projects in Development
Projects in Development, established at the start of the Les Arcs Film Festival, helps create and foster relationships for filmmakers, producers, sales agents, and distributors within the pre-production stage. Out of approximately 250 submissions, 25 films were selected to take part.
In addition to Pálfi’s The Voice, other projects that generated buzz included The Fox (Germany), from Berlin-based producer Oliver Damian and director Matthias Luthardt; Grace Jones: The Musical of My Life (Ireland, UK) from prolific documentary filmmaker Sophie Fiennes and producers Katie Holly and Emilie Blezat; Shake Your Cares Away (Israel, Germany) from Youth director Tom Shoval and producer Sol Bondy and What Will People Say from director/ producer duo Iram Haq and Maria Ekerhovd of Norway’s Oscar entry I Am Yours.

Securing French co-producing partners was the aim for most attendees, while others like Sophie Fiennes were more interested in building creatively like-minded relationships for distribution and sales. “I have quite an experimental style, and I am looking for partners who share a similar taste in filmmaking, whether it be on the production side or on the distribution side where you can experiment with alternative promotional events,” said Fiennes.

Haq and Ekerhovd credited the universal subject of cultural identity for What Will People Say’s popularity while Bondy gave tribute to Shoval’s successful Youth as a draw for Shake Your Cares Away.

Low Budget Film Forum
The festival’s Film School Village merged with Suzy Gillett’s Low Budget Film Forum this year, bringing eight director/producer teams from esteemed European film schools such as the London Film School, La Femis in Paris, National Film School of Denmark and Germany’s The Deutsche Film and Fernsehakademie Berlin together to attend a series of workshops, panels and mentoring sessions over the course of the festival. The European Media Funded programme offers 20 professional trainers to provide one-to-one guidance and tutorials.

“For most students, working on your first feature is very difficult and isolating,” said Gillett. “We hope this programme boosts confidence, allowing students to boldly get their films off the ground and into production.”

Alumni include Tom Shoval (CoProduction Village/ Shake Your Cares Away), Till Kleinhart (Les Arcs Film Festival/ The Samurai), Jules Bishop (Borrowed Time) and Yvonne Kerékgyártó (One Day of Betty).

Music Village Pro
Making its debut this year, Fleurantin says “music is in the festival’s DNA. It is something we have always integrated into the festival, only this year we have expanded.”

In addition to a nightly line-up of European bands - Fleurantin, along with Music Village programmers Jeremy Zelnik and Etienne Tricard - curated panels and masterclasses set up to inform delegates of the importance of music.

“People don’t realise how closely linked film and music are,” said Zelnik. “We’re hoping by bringing music supervisors like Denmark’s Nis Bøgvad and France’s Pascal Mayer, as well as composers like Song of the Sea’s Bruno Coulais and Yellowbird’s Stephen Warbeck, that filmmakers and industry professionals will gain a better understanding of the musical process.”

The festival promises an even more impressive line-up next year, with an aim to bring in more high-profile artists whose music is featured in the film programming.