Films from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were the winners at the end of this year’s Open Doors event in Locarno, which was dedicated to projects from Central Asia.

The new Prix Arte – worth $7,850 (€ 6,000) for the project’s development – went to Uzbek filmmaker Saodat Ismailova intimate family story Barzagh which will be her second feature after the debut 40 Days Of Silence currently in preproduction.

A second award for project development — donated by France’s CNC and worth $9,100 (€ 7,000) —  was presented to another Uzbek filmmaker Ella Vakkasova for her feature debut Aral which will be produced by her new Tashkent-based company Avesta Film Productions.

Vakkasova told ScreenDaily during Open Doors that she has attracted France’s Arizona Film as a co-producer to the project which had previously pitched at the Moscow Co-Production Forum and Baltic Event last year and at the Sofia Meetings this March.

Meanwhile, the main prize worth $47,000 (CHF 50,000) towards the film’s production went to Kazakh director Nariman Turebayev for Sunny Days about five days in the life of an outcast, to be produced by Almaty-based Kadam Studio.

Announcing the winners, Open Doors’ new director Martina Malacrida said she hoped that help might be given to some of the other nine projects pitched to potential financiers and co-producers through the Swiss-based visions sud est fund. The next deadline for funding applications would be this October.

Speaking at a roundtable about Central Asian cinema, Gulnara Abikeyeva, artistic director of the Eurasia International Film Festival, pointed out that the Open Doors’ focus on this region would help promote networking among the filmmakers from the different Central Asian countries as well as enable these directors and producers to tap into the international film scene.

This year’s edition of Open Doors was attended by such producers as Raimond Goebel of Pandora Film Produktion, Karsten Stöter of Rohfilm, Stephane Zajdenweber of F2.8 Pictures, Daniel Burlac of Saga Film, and Denis Vaslin of Volya Films as well as funding institutions ranging from Eurimages through the Berlinale World Cinema Fund to Hubert Bals Fund and other co-production events like Baltic Event and Sofia Meetings.