Films from Finland, Georgia and Hungary were voted by sales agents, distributors and potential co-producers as the most promising projects at the Baltic Event’s 7th Co-Production Market which came to a close on Friday evening (Dec 2).
This year’s Screen International Best Pitch Award went to Finnish producer Ilkka Matila of MRP Matila Röhr Productions who was presenting Klaus Harö’s €4m historical drama-thriller Never Alone which already has Nordisk Film Distribution, the Finnish Film Foundation and YLE TV1 attached as partners.
Harö’s screenplay is set in Helsinki in 1942 when the Finnish state made an alliance with Nazi Germany. One man alone is trying to stop the Finnish security services from turning over Jewish refugees to the Gestapo.
In addition, Cannes’ Producers Network gave two free accreditations for the 2012 edition to Hungarian producer Ferenc Pusztai for Mark Bodzsar’s black comedy Godly Shift and to Georgian producer-writer-director Levan Koguashvili for Teacher In Love, his second feature after the award-winning 2010 debut Street Days. The tragicomedy is Koguashvili’s first project at his new film production company Ori Bu which he launched this year, and was developed as part of a mini-EAVE producers training programme this summer.
This year, the Baltic Event celebrated its tenth anniversary and once again offered a comprehensive overview of the regional film industry with Coming Soon presentations, the Baltic Event screenings of recently completed films from the region, a series of roundtables, and the POWR script pitching workshop.
Riina Sildos, the Baltic Event’s managing director, recalled in conversation with Screen Daily that the first edition in 2002 drew 23 participants while around 200 industry professionals will have attended the tenth anniversary.
The three-day event was attended by such industry figures as sales agents Sasha Wieser (EastWest Filmdistribution), Stelios Ziannis (Aktis Film International), Coralie Faucheur (Wide Management), distributors Jean Heijl (Just Film Distribution), Chris Oosterom (Yume Pictures), film funders Brigitta Manthey (Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg), Tamara Tatishvili (Georgian National Film Center) and Keith Potter (Film Agency for Wales) as well as producers Jim Stark, Guillaume de Seille, Ieva Norviliene, and Natalia Drozd.
This year’s Coming Soon showcase of new Baltic films included Aik Karapetian’s M.O.J., billed as the first horror film from Latvia in 20 years and set to be released in a Russian and English dubbed version, while Estonian director Ain Mäeots came directly from the set of his new film Demons – a drama about the world of gambling and casinos seen from the perspective of the gambling addict – which Anneli Ahven’s Kopli Kinokompanii was shooting at the main post office building next to the Baltic Event’s venue in Tallinn’s city centre this week.
Moreover, a trailer was shown of Petri Kotwica’s €1.7m thriller Rat King, the winner of the Screen International Best Pitch Award in 2009, which was completed last week and will be released in Estonian and Finnish cinemas on Jan 20.
Moves to establish new film funds and film commissions from Estonia to Georgia were revealed at two days of roundtables, organised with the Black Nights Film Festival to examine the future of the European film industry and potential for international co-production.
Martin Adamsoo, managing director of recently established Estonian Film Commission (EFC), said that EFC will have €820,000 in financing for a start-up period of three years for such activities as the promotion of shooting opportunities in Estonia at the markets in Berlin and Cannes as well as third event which could possibly be in Scandinavia, Moscow or Toronto.
Funding will also enable direct communication with producers in the so-called target countries (the neighbouring countries in Scandinavia, Russia and Eastern Europe), provide resources to invite foreign producers who have concrete projects to shoot in Estonia for location scouting and meetings with potential production partners, and make it possibile to send Estonian producers abroad to meet foreign producers.
Meanwhile, Lineta Miselkyte of the Lithuanian Producers Association explained that the example of the Riga Film Fund – whose co-financing programme has supported eight international film projects shooting in Riga and Latvia from such countries as Germany, Denmark, the UK, Russia, Finland and Japan since last year – had served as a wake-up call to local politicians in the Lithuanian capital and prompted the dynamic city mayor Arturas Zuokas into action, resulting in the council voting last week for the establishment of the Vilnius Film Office.
At the same time, Tamara Tatishvili, head of the Georgian National Film Center (GNFC), explained that the Georgian Film Commission was currently in a pilot phase and would be launched internationally in mid-2012. She pointed out that Georgia currently has a bilateral co-production agreement with France, but is examining the option of concluding further agreements with Ukraine, Azerbaijan and other neighbouring countries. Moreover, future initiatives to be pursued by GNFC could include developing additional fiscal incentives as well as becoming members of the European Audiovisual Observatory and European Film Promotion.
On the sidelines of this year’s Baltic Event, ACE president Simon Perry confirmed to Screen Daily that the Paris-based institution has been entrusted by the newly founded Franco-Russian Film Academy to organise a training seminar on Franco-Russian co-production for ten French and Russian producers to be held in mid-February.
At the Academy’s inaugural meeting in Honfleur last weekend, development grants of €40,000 each were awarded to Russian director Alexey Popogrebsky’s new feature project Lost Rooms, to be produced by Koktebel’s Roman Borisevich, and to Rémi Chayé’s €8m animation project Longway North (Tout En Haut Du Monde) which producer Ron Dyens of Sacrebleu Productions had already pitched at last week’s German-French Film Meeting in Paris.
Moreover, sales agent Sasha Wieser revealed that David Wnendt’s award-winning debut Combat Girls (Kriegerin) has already been invited to screen at next year’s the third edition of VOICES (Vologda Independent Cinema from European Screens Festival) in July as part of a special German focus on the occasion of the German-Russian year running from June 2012.