Other projects supported by Romania’s film fund include Cristian Mungiu’s RMD and Tudor Giurgiu’s Apropierea.
Romania’s Centrul National al Cinematografiei (CNC) has become the latest European film fund to be raided by the ubiquitous film-maker Peter Greenaway for a future project.
Greenaway’s Walking To Paris (Mergand Spre Paris), which is being structured as a co-production between his regular producer Kees Kasander’s UK-based Cinatura, Switzerland’s Cobra Film, France’s CDP Productions and Romania’s Abis Studio, received 291,000 RON (€65,000) in the results of the 2013 call for projects.
Walking To Paris centres on the 27-year-old Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi who set off a month-long trek across Europe from Romania to Paris in 1903, and will show how Brancusi’s fight for survival and many adventures during his journey influenced his subsequent work.
Greenaway had previously accessed the Croatian Audiovisual Centre for Goltzius And The Pelican Company and the Polish Film Institute for Nightwatching, while the Finnish Film Foundation is a backer on his latest film Eisenstein in Guanajuato which began shooting in Mexico on Jan 30.
After months of waiting, the Romanian film community finally learnt the CNC’s decisions as this year’s goEast Festival for Central and East European Cinema (April 9-15) was underway in the German town of Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt.
Of 16 feature film projects supported, Cristian Mungiu’s RMN received the highest amount - 4.45m RON (almost €1m) - followed by Tudor Giurgiu’s Apropierea (2m RON/€448,000), Catalin Mitulescu’s Fata Muntilor (2m RON/€448,000) and Cristi Puiu’s Sierra Nevada (1.63m RON/€365,000).
The funding session also backed projects by other Romanian film-makers well known on the international festival circuit such as Radu Jude, Corneliu Porumboiu, Anca Damian and Ruxandra Zenide, which are planned as international co-productions.
Documentary projects included Alexandru Solomon’s Ouale Lui Tarzan while Robert Lakatos’ DraculaTo(u)r was one of the animation features backed, and development support went to Paul Negoescu’s next feature Never Let It Go which was pitched at the Sofia Meetings last month.
Russia and Ukraine conflict
Given goEast’s regional focus, it is not surprising that discussion centred at this year’s edition on the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Apart from the world premiere of the omnibus film Ukraine_Voices, the festival also scored another first by organising a roundtable with Ukrainian and Russian film-makers including Ukraine_Voices’ initiator Dmytro Tiazhlov, Cine Fantom’s Andrey Silvestrov (Brain), Aliona Polunina (Nepal Forever), Natalia Mikhaylova (Zelim’s Confession) and Odessa IFF programme director Alik Shpilyuk.
“Following the recent events in Ukraine, there have been some drastic changes to the film industry,” Shpilyuk reported. “Within the last couple of years, we saw a real revival of national film production. There were a lot of films being produced and distributed in the cinemas - this was a miracle for Ukraine.
“This year, the process will probably stop. because there is no money to support film production and, even if money was found, we are not sure what the final amount might be. Some projects which had started filming or were about to start were stopped because of the events, and others had been postponed or cancelled altogether.”
“On the positive side, there was enormous interest from many young people in the films at last week’s documentary festival Docudays.ua in Kiev,” continued Shpilyuk. “Some of the films were dealing with the situation in Ukraine, and the documentary film-makers are now working on more films connected with the revolution and the war, so I think that this year will see some interesting documentaries coming out.”
“The motivation for the omnibus film wasn’t to produce a series of cinematic masterpieces,” Tiazhlov said about Ukraine_Voices which is now looking to travel to other film festivals.
“We wanted to hear other voices, have other input and from other places other than Kiev. It was also a question of what role film can play in this competition by the media on reporting about the conflict.”
Polunina, whose Nepal Forever about the members of a Communist splinter party in St Petersburg is screening in the Documentary Competition, said that the events in Ukraine had affected human relations on a personal level between people in Russia.
“Suddenly, half of the population is boasting about their patriotic feelings, and I don’t know where these come from, and the other half is very concerned about what is going on in Ukraine and with the Ukrainians - and this has them marked as national traitors,” Polunina observed.
“The divide [of opinions] in Russia started from the time of the protests on the Maidan in Kiev, but it wasn’t so apparent then.”
Meanwhile, in a seemingly ironic twist, one of the signatories of Kino Soyuz’s declaration supporting the Ukrainian film-makers last month, the director Andrey Proshkin, began shooting his latest feature film Orlean on the Crimean peninsula from last Friday (April 10).
Adapted by Yury Arabov from his own novel, the CTN Film production was originally supposed to begin principal photography at the beginning of March, but was postponed until April because of the political events.
In a previous interview, Proshkin said that the film’s budget stood at 100m Roubles, but the project did not receive backing from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Culture at last year’s project pitching.
Szumowska goes low-budget
Polish film-maker Malgorzata Szumowska begins shooting her next feature The Body (“a low-budget film under €1m”) on Tuesday with the veteran actor Janusz Gajos and In The Name Of’s Maja Ostaszewska in the leads.
“I have written the parts especially for Janusz Gajos and Maja Ostaszewska who will be completely different from the role she had In The Name Of,” said Szumowska at the goEast film festival.
“There will again be a group of non-professional actors, this time girls aged between 15 and 20, so the structure is a bit like my previous film. In general, the film is about Poland: we are trying to depict the country at this point in time, but there isn’t any journalistic or social tone to the approach.”
The film’s title The Body, which has been co-written by long-time collaborator (and ex-husband) Michal Englert, refers, according to Szumowska, “to the body of the country and the human body as one of the girls is anorexic”.
Szumowska also took the opportunity to pay tribute to the late German producer Karl “Baumi” Baumgartner: “It is thanks to Baumi that I am where I am now. He and Raimond Goebel of Pandora Film are the only producers who were real partners for me and showed me what it feels to be a film director. We don’t have producers like that in Poland.”
Baumgartner had discovered Szumowska after seeing her debut feature Happy Man in 2000, and then he and Goebel produced her next two films, Stranger and 33 Scenes From Life.
Szumowska was in Wiesbaden on the occasion of goEast’s Portrait dedicated to her shorts and features starting during her studies at the Lodz Film School in the mid-1990s.