Oscar-nominated UK director Tanel Toom and Estonian documentary maker Jaak Kilmi are among 22 film-makers with film projects in the fifth edition of the When East Meets West (WEMW) co-production forum (Jan 18-20).

Estonian-born Toom, who was nominated for The Confession (his graduation film from the UK’s NFTS), will be in Trieste with his fiction feature debut, the sci-fi thriller Gateway 6, to be produced by Matt Wilkinson and Ben Pullen’s Stigma Films, while Latvian producer Antra Gaile of Mistrus Media will be pitching Kilmi’s People From Nowhere.

A total of 10 documentaries and 12 fiction feature projects from 13 countries were selected from a record 285 submissions, including 57 from Italy, 38 from the UK, 19 from Canada, 15 from Ireland, 13 from the US, and 143 from Eastern Europe.

Since WEMW’s 2015 edition has a focus on English-speaking countries, the line-up includes:

  • veteran Canadian film-maker Anne Henderson’s documentary project Missing Persona;

  • the US-Italian co-production The Oldest Man Alive by Antonio Tibaldi, to be produced by Mustard & Co and Jolefilm;

  • Sundance winner Havana Marking’s documentary Persons Unknown, to be produced by the UK’s Roast Beef Productions;

  • Emily Young’s feature project The Italian Project, to be produced by Andrew Bendel of Blue Horizon Productions. (Her Kiss Of Life screened in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2003)

Other projects selected for pitching to potential partners range from the new documentary project by Suddenly Last Winter’s directorial duo Luca Ragazzi and Gustav Hofer, Commissari Europei: Europe As You Have Never Seen It, through Bulgarian Milko Lazarov’s feature film Nanook, which was previously pitched at the Sofia Meetings and Moscow Co-Production Forum, to Serbian film-maker Miroslav Terzic’s Stitches, to be produced by Belgrade-based West End Productions.

The complete line-up of the WEMW projects can be found at www.wemw.it.

The 2015 edition is featuring three new initiatives: the First Cut Lab presenting feature-length films at the editing stage; Last Stop Trieste, a documentary ‘work in progress’ section aimed at an exclusive panel of sales agents, festival programmers and broadcasters, and Born in Trieste, showcasing completed films previously presented at the pitching forum in Trieste.

Festival briefs

Max Ophüls present 11 world premieres

Thomas Woschitz’s Bad Luck, Marc Brummund’s Freistatt, Julia C. Kaiser’s Das Floss! and Sebastian Ko’s Wir Monster  are among 11 world premieres screening in the fiction feature film competition of the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival in Saarbrücken (Jan 19-25).

The 16-title line-up selected from around 150 submissions also includes Karim Patwa’s Driften,

 Jochen Alexander Freydank’s Der Bau, Claudia Lorenz’s Unter der Haut and Laurent Nègre’s Confusion.

The winner of this competition is invited by the Berlinale’s Perspektiven Deutsches Kino sidebar to screen on the final day of the festival in February.

Meanwhile, Hubertus Siegert’s Beyond Punishment, Ralf Bücheler’ Mission Control Texas, and Andrea Roggon’s Mülheim: Texas, Helge Schneider Hier und Dort are among seven world premieres selected for the festival’s documentary competition.

The 36th edition of the Max Ophüls festival, which focuses on up-and-coming film-makers from  German-speaking Europe, will be recognising the veteran director-producer Hans W. Geissendörfer by presenting him with its Honorary Award at the opening ceremony on January 19.

Unter der Haut opens 50th anniversary edition of Solothurn Film Days.

Claudia Lorenz’s drama of a woman coming to terms with her husband being gay, Unter der Haut, will open the 50th anniversary edition of the Solothurn Film Days (Jan 22-29).

The annual showcase of Swiss cinema of 184 fiction films, documentaries, shorts and music videos in the ¨Panorama Suisse¨ programme includes 23 world premieres ranging from Stina Werenfels’ Dora oder die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern, Karim Patwa’s Driften, and Angelo Alfredo Lüdin’s documentary Thomas Hirschhorn - Gramsci Monument, to Thomas Gerber’s Der Hamster, Sabine Boss’ Vecchi Pazzi, and Mirko and Dario Bischofberger’s Dog Men.

Seventeen fiction films and documentaries have been nominated for the Prix Public audience award and the Prix de Soleure competition, with the winners being announced at the festival’s closing ceremony on January 29.

The 50th edition will also feature sidebars dedicated to film collectives and networks - with screenings of such films as Jessica Hausner’s Amour Fou and Jakob Lass’ Love Steaks -, a retrospective of Swiss films shown over the past five decades in Solothurn, and a selection of leading Swiss productions by the Cahiers du Cinéma magazine

The festival will also provide the launchpad for a new online portal, entitled www.ch-film.ch, promoting Swiss cinema internationally and serve as the venue for the unveiling of the nominees for this year’s Swiss Film Prize.

Odessa Changes

After heading the programme department of the Odessa International Film Festival (OIFF) for the past five years, Alik Shpilyuk has passed the baton over to Anthelme Vidaud for OIFF’s sixth edition (July 10-18).

French-born Vidaud had been OIFF’s programme coordinator for the past year, and Shpilyuk will remain a member of the festival’s selection ccommittee in his new role as programme advisor.