escalante huezo

Source: Heli / Screen International (licensed under CC by 2.0)

Amat Escalante, Tatiana Huezo

A new documentary project from Prayers For The Stolen director Tatiana Huezo was among the prize-winners at the fifth edition of European Work in Progress (EWIP), held in Cologne October 17-19.

An international jury including mk2 films’ head of acquisitions Olivier Barbier, Directors’ Fortnight artistic director Julien Rejl and German director-producer-actress Saralisa Volm awarded in-kind prizes worth a total of €60,000, after the 28 selected projects had been pitched to sales agents and distributors.

The K13 Studios award of €10,000 in Dolby Atmos mixing went to Huezo’s documentary The Echo, a documentary about children growing up in a remote Mexican valley punished by winter and drought. It is co-produced by the director’s Radiola Films and The Match Factory, with delivery due in 2023. The jury praised the project‘s “level of intimacy, pureness and the depiction of patriarchal society”. Prayers For The Stolen was Mexico’s 2022 Oscar entry.

The MMC Studios Award for €5,000 of stage and room rental services went to another Mexican filmmaker, Amat Escalante for Lost In The Night. The drama, set in a small mining town in Mexico, is co-produced by the Match Factory (also handling international sales), alongside Mexico’s Tres Dunas Cine, The Netherlands’ Lemming Film and Denmark’s Snowglobe. Escalante won best director in Cannes in 2013 for Heli and at Venice in 2016 for The Untamed. The €2.4m project is now in early stages of editing and could be ready for next year’s Cannes Film Festival.

K13 Studios’ award of €5,000 worth of dubbing services went to the French-German-Moroccan-Belgian co-production Deserts by Faouzi Bensaidi.

MMC Studios’ €10,000 award for stage and room rental services went to Basis Berlin Filmproduktion for its pitch of Iranian-born writer-director Behrooz Karamizade’s Empty Nets set in the world of illegal caviar poaching on the shores of the Caspian Sea. During his pitch, Karamizade said that the film’s Iranian co-producer, Majid Barzegar of Rainy Pictures, was sentenced four weeks ago to one year in prison for signing the “put down your guns” open letter which had called on the security forces to stand with protesters in Abadan.

Other prizes included LAVAlabs Moving Images Award for €10,000 of visual effects to Singaporean-Taiwanese-Polish co-production Pierce by Nelicia Low.

The Dolby Vision award went to Brazilian-French co-production Jepotá by directorial duo Carlos Papá Guarani, one of the first indigenous screenwriters in Brazil, and Augusto Canani.

Torino Film Lab (TFL), EWIP’s new partner this year, gave an audience design award of two sessions with TFL experts to design a marketing and distribution strategy to Spanish-German animation feature Sultana’s Dream.

Berlin-based PR agency mm filmpresse will be offering €7,500 worth of international public relations to Chinese filmmaker Jianjie Lin’s debut feature Brief History Of A Family. The mystery thriller, co-produced with Danish and French partners, was presented along with Singaporean director Nicole Midori Woodford’s Last Shadow At First Light in TFL’s Coming Soon showcase held during EWIP for the first time.

A new award sponsored by Gruvi worth €5,000, to be spent on marketing ad technology, went to German filmmaker-activist Jonas Brander’s first feature documentary Until The Sun Dies, about extrajudicial killings by the authorities against indigenous communities in Colombia

Finally, Berlin-based translation company Way Film offered subtitling services for Masha Novikova’s documentary Russia vs. Lawyers about a human rights lawyer struggling to defend his clients.

The two days of pitching sessions also saw producers Hans de Weers and Heino Deckert present veteran Dutch filmmaker Jos Stelling’s 14th feature film, tragic love story Natasha’s Dance, while Israeli producer Adar Shafran introduced footage from his directorial debut, the bitter-sweet comedy Running On Sand, which is being co-produced with Berlin-based Rommel Film.

This year’s edition of EWIP has been followed this year by a new venture, the two-day International Distribution Summit (19-20 October).

At the event, Neon’s president of theatrical distribution Elissa Federoff will be the first recipient of the newly created Best International Innovation Distribution Award at a ceremony on tonight.