Projects from Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Estonia were voted by sales agents, distributors and potential co-producers as the most promising at the Baltic Event’s 8th Co-Production Market.
This year’s Screen International Best Pitch Award went to Estonian producer Kiur Aarma of Tallinn-based Traumfabrik who presented Jaak Kilmi’s drama The Hoppers, which already has received development support the Estonian Foundation and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
The screenplay by Tiit Aleksejev centres on a group of Swedish missionaries who land on the island of Hiiumaa in 1913 and found an awakening movement called the Hoppers because of their strange, ecstatic rituals. At the same time, a Russian army platoon arrives with the mission to fortify the empire’s Western border.
Cannes’ Producers Network gave two free accreditations for the 2012 edition to Estonian animation studio Nukufilm and the young Kazakh production outfit Short Brothers.
Nukufilm’s project, the €3m stop-motion S3D adventure film Morten On The Ship Of Fools, already has 50% of the financing in place with Finland’s Bufo Oy as partner.
Co-directors Adilkhan Serzhanov and Serik Abishev’s €260,000 The Journalist will be produced with Kazakhfilm JSC and is described by producer Abishev as “a tragedy of an existence within a closed society” as they aim to show Kazakhstan as it really is.
A fourth prize – worth €5,000 of post-production services – went to Danish-born Allen van O.T. Andersen’s €1.5m drama Escaping Sunshine, based on a real incident which took place in Copenhagen in 2011, which will be produced by Lithuanian Rasa Miskinyte’s ERA Film.
Works in progress
This year’s edition of the Baltic Event offered a record 16 “works in progress” in its Coming Soon presentations, including five projects from Estonia and four apiece from Latvia and Lithuania.
The line-up festured two films picked up by sales house The Yellow Affair – Kadri Koussar’s English-language, UK-set The Arbiter about a serial killer taking the law into his own hands, and Mait Laas’s S3D stop-motion puppet opera Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange with songs in Italian, French and English.
In addition, Level K has secured the international rights to Veiko Ounpuu’s new feature film Free Range/Ballad On Approving Of The World after handling his previous festival hit The Temptation Of St Tony.
The three-day event was attended by such industry figures as sales agents Frédéric Corvez (Urban Distribution International), Sasha Wieser (EastWest Filmdistribution), Miira Paasilinna (The Yellow Affair) and Annick Mahnert (Celluloid Dreams), film funders MFG Baden-Württemberg, Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture State Film Unit, Riga Film Fund, and the Lithuanian Film Centre, as well as producers Nadia Turincev, Jiri Konecny, Monica Lazurean-Gorgan and Ieva Norviliene.
Russian development grants
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of this year’s Baltic Event, Screen learnt that, far from the turbulence currently rocking the Russian film industry, the French-Russian Film Academy had awarded development grants to four projects at a meeting during the 20th Russian Film Festival in Honfleur last weekend.
Two Russian projects were each allocated €20,000: Igor Voloshin’s Locked-Up, which is based on works by Jean-Paul Sartre and will star French actor Denis Lavant, and Patrick Alessandrin’s Frau Maria about a Dutch ship of the same name which sank in 1771 while carrying a precious cargo of jewellery, Flemish paintings, china and furniture for the Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
In addition, a €30,000 grant was awarded to French director Gilles Porte’s feature project S and € 10,000 development support to Alexander Zarchikov’s documentary Polovinki (The Halves).
Four projects had been submitted by Russian producers and eight by French producers for this year’s funding round. (ends)