Works in Progress, the main industry event at the festival, will this year feature entries from Turkey, Greece and Georgia for the first time.
Karlovy Vary’s annual East of the West Works in Progress one-day panel gives international sales agents and festival programmers a preview of feature projects from the region’s film-makers. Producers present trailers and details on 20 projects to an audience of nearly 100 industry professionals. This year’s event will be held on July 4 at the Grandhotel Pupp; a similar panel for documentaries, DocuTalents from the East, will be held on July 5.
“This year for the first time we received 50 projects for the selection, from nearly every country in Central and Eastern Europe,” says Karlovy Vary’s industry office chief, Andrea Szczukova. “In past years we had up to 30 films. This year we also invited films from Greece, Turkey and Georgia for the first time.”
Among the projects being pitched at this year’s event are The Gambler, a Hungary-UK co-production from Szabolcs Hajdu [pictured]. The project is set in Las Vegas and is inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel of the same name. The director’s previous film, Bibliotheque Pascal, screened in the Berlinale’s Forum section in 2010.
Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski will pitch To Kill A Beaver, a story about a traumatised war veteran and his love for a girl from Dagestan. Kolski’s Pornography screened in Venice in 2003, while his film Venice won the award for best artistic contribution at the Montreal World Film Festival last year.
Waldemar Krzystek will present 80 Million, set in Poland as martial law is introduced in the early 1980s. Krzystek’s credits include Little Moscow, which won the people’s choice award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 2009.
Producer Ieva Norviliene is pitching Kristina Buozyte’s Vanishing Waves (Aurora), a Lithuania-France co-production about an inhibited young man who experiences a neural transfer into the mind of a comatose woman.
Other projects at this year’s event come from the Balkans, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Slovakia and Turkey.
The Works in Progress showcase is the key European event for sales agents and festivals looking for films from Eastern Europe, according to Marta Lamperova, managing director of Bratislava-based sales company Film Europe. “Sarajevo [Film Festival] and [Filmfestival] Cottbus are both great events but they’re more focused on projects in development,” she says. “At Karlovy Vary you find projects that are completed or nearly completed. You can talk to the producers and really find out when the film is going to be ready.”
Film Europe was at last year’s event handling international sales for Zuzana Liova’s debut feature The House, which drew the attention of selectors from Berlin and Cannes. The Slovakia-Czech Republic co-production about family conflict went on to screen at the Berlinale in the Forum section in February.
Producers and sales agents say the panel works so well because they have a captive audience. “When you show them the project at Karlovy Vary, it makes it easier later because you don’t have to chase them down at Berlin and Cannes where they’re going to be too busy,” Lamperova says.
Jeffrey Brown, producer with Prague-based UFO Pictures, attends the Works in Progress panel every year and in 2009 pitched Alice Nellis’ Mamas & Papas. It went on to take the grand prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October 2010. For Brown, the best part of the panel is the access it provides to festival representatives and sales agents. “Business people are very accessible there,” Brown says. “In Karlovy Vary you don’t have the hype and ego you find at larger festivals. It’s still a major European event but you can walk up to anyone, shake their hand and tell them who you are and what you’re doing.”
In addition to The House, Berlin programmers last year spotted Czech director Vaclav Kadrnka’s Eighty Letters, which also screened in the Berlinale’s Forum. Also among 2010’s projects, Marek Lechki’s Polish drama Erratum went on to screen at Busan, Thessaloniki, Gothenburg and Chicago, among others.
The 2009 edition produced several successes. Sundance selectors found Jacek Borcuch’s All That I Love which went on to screen in their 2010 edition before playing at Rotterdam and Busan; it was picked up by Wide Management. Another Polish entry, Borys Lankosz’s The Reverse, returned to Karlovy Vary in competition in 2010.
Three Russian projects were pitched in 2009: Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Silent Souls, which was picked up by Memento and screened in Venice 2010; Aleksei Uchitel’s The Edge, which screened at Toronto and was nominated last year for a Golden Globe; and Vladimir Kott’s Gromozeka, which this year screened at Rotterdam and in New Directors/New Films in New York.