Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick is to serve as a “godfather” to the new training venture School of Film Agents (SOFA) and has revealed he wants attract more TV product to Berlin’s EFM.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily during his first ever visit to the New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw, Kosslick said: “The only thing I can do is contribute my know-how, which is quite large because I know a lot of people and have experience of running such projects.”

Initiated by the Cologne-based non-profit organisation Filmplus, SOFA is run in cooperation with the City of Wroclaw, the Polish Film Institute and the New Horizons Association, with funding and support from 15 institutions and organisations including MEDIA Desk Poland, the International Visegrad Fund and Goethe Institutes in Georgia, Romania and Hungary.

“From the outset, the idea was not to make a big announcement but to use the network of friends and acquaintances for recommendations,” said SOFA initiator Nikolaj Nikitin.

“We were looking for potential participants who are so energetic and thirsty for knowledge in order to realise their project.”

It would appear that Nikitin’s address book had been working overtime to gather both participants and tutors for the first edition of this training programme aimed at supporting innovative film and cinema projects from Central and Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Germany.

Some reactions following the presentation of SOFA in Wroclaw described the programme as bordering on “neo-colonialism” or “quasi incestuous”.

It seems to stretch a point to describe participants Mira Staleva (who has worked at the Sofia Film Festival for the past 13 years), New Horizons and New Europe Film Sales’ Jan Naszewski or Johannes Rexin, the German co-producer of Bal and Hannah Arendt as “upcoming film professionals”. 

The programme, which has a budget of €140,000, with €30,000 coming from the City of Wroclaw, until 2016, selected a total of 11 participants, including Hungarian distributor Gabor Böszörmenyi, Transilvania International Film Festival’s location manager Melinda Bros and Ketie Daniela, formerly of the Georgian National Film Centre.

Polish cinema at the Berlinale

Speaking about Polish cinema at the Berlinale, Kosslick observed there had been “a long tradition of Polish films screening in Berlin” with 14 titles showing in the various festival sections over the past five years.

He added: “Interestingly, the Polish films always get prizes in Berlin and the most remarkable thing was when veteran Andrzej Wajda received the Alfred Bauer Prize [“to a film that opens new perspectives on cinematic art”] for Sweet Rush in 2009.”

Berlinale 2014 preparations

Turning to the 2014 edition of the Berlinale, Kosslick said that he would be making the usual trip around the Hollywood studios at the end of August to see what is in the pipeline and will also be visiting the Telluride Film Festival (Aug 29-Sept 2) to join the celebrations for its 40th anniversary.

“There isn’t any new project planned for next year,” Kosslick declared.

“The only new project we could have – although it is not 100% certain – is that the Zoopalast would ready. We’ll be back on board if it is, with the title Im Westen ‘was Neues [an allusion to Erich Maria Remarque’s war novel All Quiet on the Western Front which could be reworked here as Something New In the West].

“I think it would be good for Generation to go back to the Zoopalast because it was always a good location for the kids. The cinema will also be different now with five screens of different sizes. So, it would be a case of back to the roots.”

As to the question of a successor to Catherine Buresi for the post of co-market director at the European Film Market (EFM), Kosslick said that he expects an announcement to be made in September.

“The market is already well booked and we are very satisfied,” he said.

Attracting more TV product

Kosslick added that he wants to include more television at the festival, “but that doesn’t mean programming more television productions in the festival programme unless it makes sense as it did this year. Our actual goal to attract more TV producers and sales agents with television product to the EFM.”

“We have the option to have take space in the Marriott Hotel [for companies to have offices] and there is also the option of the Hotel Maritim which would also be a good market location.”

Kosslick also used his 48-hour stay in Wroclaw to meet Polish film-makers to hear about their latest projects which could be ready for Berlin next February.