Serbian film No One’s Child, about a boy raised by wolves, has been named top project at the Les Arcs European Film Festival’s Work-in-Progress screenings.
No One’s Child (Nicije dete) is the first feature of Belgrade writer and director Vuk Rsumovic and is produced by Art & Popcorn’s Miroslav Mogorovic.
It beat nine other projects to the inaugural Digimage Classics Awards, which comprises services valued up to $8,300 (€6,000).
The jury included Films Boutique head of acquisitions Gabor Greiner, Fortissimo Films acquisitions consultant Ellis Driessen and Karel Och, artistic director at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The jury praised the film for “a sincere and convincing presentation” and “for strong screen presence”.
No One’s Child, made on a budget of $1m (€750,000), is currently in post-production with an expected delivery date of April 2014.
Kinorama (Hungary) is co-producing. The project is currently looking for a sales agent.
Inspired by a true story, it stars Denis Murtic as Haris, a young boy found among wolves in the mountains of Bosnia in 1988. Unable to communicate, the wild boy is sent to an orphanage in Belgrade to be “civilised” and slowly begins to adapt. However, when war arrives in 1992, Haris is sent back to Bosnia.
Clips shown to sales agents, producers and distributors at Les Arcs revealed a powerful, animalistic performance from the young lead actor.
Producer Mogorovic told delegates that casting the boy had taken 18 months and the shoot was nearly abandoned when they couldn’t find an actor that could take on the weight of the lead role. But the production, which has been in development since 2009, got underway after Murtic was discovered working on another upcoming film, Enclava.
In a statement from Rsumovic, the director said: “This is a story about a need to be loved, and the power of a child’s unconditional love.
“Being intimately and minimalistic told through the perspective of a little boy and his experience of the world, this story is about human nature and raises the question of what defines us as people and what makes us beasts.”
There were a number of other films that generated positive buzz at Les Arcs’ Work-in-Progress, selected by Frederic Boyer out of a total 250 submissions.
Icelandic film Paris of the North (Paris Nordursins) excited delegates with its quirky tone and soundtrack. It marks the second feature of Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson, who debuted with Either Way in 2011, a film that screened at more than 50 festivals and was remade in the US as Prince Avalanche by David Gordon Green.
The film centres on a teacher, played by Bjorn Thors, who has moved from the city to a village of 169 people. But his father, played by “the Icelandic Johnny Hallyday” Helgi Björnsson, turns up and complicates his quiet life.
Sigurdsson said: “Paris of the North is a film about the trials and tribulations of family ties. It’s about loneliness and what goes unsaid. Most of all though, it is a story about trying to live life to the fullest before it’s too late.
“One of the core dynamics that I often come back to in my work is the subtle interaction between the funny and the sad – one of life’s peculiar contradictions.”
Produced by Zik Zak Filmworks’ Thor S Sigurjonsson and Arizona Productions’ Guillaume de Seille, Danish outfit Profile Pictures is also on board. The film, made on a budget of just under $2m (€1.4m), has an expected delivery date of May 2014.
Turkish drama Things I Cannot Tell (Deniz Seviyesi) also peaked interest. It marks the first feature of young co-directors Ersa Saydam and Nisan Dag, who recently graduated from Columbia University.
The film centres on Damla, who travels from New York to her old summer town in Turkey for the first time in eight years with her husband Kevin, while pregnant with their first child. She hopes to reconcile with her first love, Burak, but needs to confront him with a deep secret before she can return to the US unburdened of her guilt.
Things I Cannot Tell, produced by Karlakum Film, was shot in Turkey and the US and is expected to be completed by Feb 2014. The film, which has a budget of $700,000 (€505,400), is supported by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and featured at the Istanbul Film Festival Workshop.
The Judgment (Sadilishteto), from Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev, also got delegates talking.
Produced by Argo Film on a budget of $2.6m (€1.89m), it centres on a man who smuggles immigrants into the EU and has lived with a terrible secret for 25 years.
Partners attached include Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion (Germany), Propeler Film (Croatia) and Sektor Film (Macedonia) and delivery is expected in Jan 2014.
Other notable projects included black comedy Liebling, from Belgian directors Bert Haelvoet and Ellen Schoenaerts, produced by Savage Films’ Bart van Langendonck (Bullhead); and Atlantic (fka Land), by Dutch director Jan-Willem van Ewijk, from Augustus Film Productions’ Bero Beyer, in which a man sets off on an epic journey from Morocco to Europe on his windsurfboard.
Delegates also saw clips from In Your Name, from Dutch director Marco Van Geffen; The Reaper, directed by Croatian filmmaker Zvonimir Juric (The Blacks), which featured at Les Arcs’ Coproduction village last year; and The Way Out, from Czech filmmaker Petr Vaclav, about gypsies in the Czech Republic.
Documentary South North Water Transfer, entirely shot in China by director Antoine Boutet, was also showcased.