Illegal (Bel)

Dir/scr: Olivier Masset-Depasse

Budget: $3m (EUR2.2m)

Funds raised: $1m (EUR750,000)

Tackling one of the world's most challenging issues, Illegal looks at immigration. "It's the first time we will see how an immigrant holding centre functions on the inside," claims Olivier Masset-Depasse. He says he wants to inform audiences of what he calls one of the biggest social problems of the past century. "It will be fictional but based on facts." The director says his inspiration comes in part from a holding centre near his home in Belgium where, he says, "there are children behind bars". Masset-Depasse's first film, Cages, was presented at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Rome International Film Festival in 2006.

The Silent City (Neth)

Dir/scr: Threes Anna

Budget: $3.3m (EUR2.4m)

Funds raised: $478,000 (EUR350,000)

The story of a young Dutch woman who travels to Japan to learn the art of preparing fish from a master chef, The Silent City is about "a woman who has a dream she fights for but the outcome is very different than expected".

"It's a visual story that is very simple and speaks for itself," says director Threes Anna, who plans to shoot the film in Dutch, English and Japanese. She is also looking for a Japanese co-producer. An accomplished theatre director and novelist-turned-filmmaker (she has written and directed more than 50 theatre works), her first film was The Bird Can't Fly in 2007 which starred Barbara Hershey as a woman who returns home after a long absence. It screened at festivals including Gothenburg and Durban and won the special jury award at Bulgaria's International Film Festival of Sofia earlier this year.

Costa Rica (UK)

Dir: Gabriel Range

Scr: Jake Arnott

Budget: $4.1m (EUR3m)

Funds raised: $409,000 (EUR300,000) pledged

Best-selling crime writer Jake Arnott, whose novels include He Kills Coppers, has written the script for this 21st-century London-set thriller with a Hollywood noir twist. "Our ambition is to create a sexy, smart film and do for London what L'Appartement did for Paris," says director Gabriel Range. He adds the script has mainstream appeal and "great characters" to which he hopes to attract an A-list cast. Wales-born Range gained recognition for his provocatively titled first film Death Of A President, which portrayed the fictitious assassination of US president George W Bush. It won the Fipresci prize at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and went on to sell to more than 40 international territories, including the US to the now-defunct Newmarket Films.

The Paradise (Nor)

Dir: Stefan Faldbakken

Scr: Faldbakken, Harald Rosenlow Eeg

Budget: $3.8m (EUR2.8m)

Funds raised: $123,000 (EUR90,000)

"It's a film about love," says Stefan Faldbakken of The Paradise, a drama about the phenomenon of romantic love between siblings. "It's about a brother and sister separated since childhood, who meet as adults and fall in love." Faldbakken has researched cases of "genetic affection" where family members, often adopted as children, met and reconnected romantically as adults.

"It's a type of perfect, but impossible love," he says of the "disturbing but gripping" story content. "(The characters are) made for each other but can't be together." Faldbakken's debut film Uro, was selected for Un Certain Regard in Cannes in 2006; the same year it won the Stockholm International Film Festival's Northern Light award.

Eruption (Fr)

Dir/scr: AlantE KavaitE

Budget: $3.4m-$4m (EUR2.5m-EUR3m)

Eruption is about a man travelling through France with his camera and the women he meets along the way. Director Alante Kavaite says: "The film is about freeing ourselves from our fears. It's a visual and emotional movie about a man who rediscovers his ability to feel and dream." Kavaite's debut Fissures (Ecoute Le Temps) made its world premiere in competition at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Fest in 2006, winning praise for the originality of the script and strong performance by French actress Emile Dequenne.

Flight Attendant Academy (Fin)

Dir: Juha Wuolijoki

Scrs: Wuolijoki, Mitchell Bard

Budget: $8.2m (EUR6m)

Funds raised: $683,600 (EUR500,000)

Christmas Story, Juha Wuolijoki's first film, sold widely around the world. The director says his second film, Flight Attendant Academy, will also be an "audience film", which will merge a US indie style with a European outlook. "Our aim in Rome is to bring out the concept and its funniness," says producer Aleksi Hyvarinen. The lighthearted film will focus on a trainer at the prestigious Flight Attendant Academy where playing ping-pong and perfecting serving skills are on the curriculum. Wuolijoki plans to shoot the film somewhere warm. "When we were making my last film, Christmas Story, we were in the extreme cold of Lapland and Finland and it was really tough," he explains. "We decided next time, we'd go to a warmer climate."

Trixy (Rom)

Dir: Tudor Giurgiu

Scr: Giurgiu, Catalin Chirila, Marcel Manea

Budget: $2.5m (EUR1.8m)

Trixy is based on the true story of homosexual ballet dancer Trixy Checais, who was imprisoned in a Romanian Gulag during the Communist era. "He tries to keep his own identity despite all that is happening to his life and his lover," says Romanian director Tudor Giurgiu. "It will be a sophisticated, stylish film that captures the sense of Bucharest's pre-communist avant-garde art scene." The director's source material for the project includes a recently discovered secret-service dossier of the artist, and survivors who knew him or saw him dance. Giurgiu's first film, Love Sick, premiered at the Berlinale Panorama in 2006.

Opening Fires (Avant Le Feu) (Fr)

Dirs: David Oelhoffen

Scr: Oelhoffen, Antoine Lacomblez, adapted from the short story, The Guest, by Albert Camus

Budget: $3.4m (EUR2.5m)

"Opening Fires is a western which takes place at a specific point in European history," says David Oelhoffen of this project which is set in Algeria in 1954, on the eve of the Algerian War. It is about a schoolteacher who works on a very isolated and high plateau. "It's just after a snow storm. He has to escort a prisoner and there are few characters, there's a lot of danger," the director says. Oelhoffen's first film In Your Wake (Nos Retrouvailles) screened in Critics' Week at Cannes in 2007.

For a Foreign Country (Ger)

Dir: Niels Laupert

Scrs: Laupert, Tobias Engelmeier

Budget: $11m (EUR8m)

For A Foreign Country is a biopic set during the First World War about German adventurer Wilhelm Wassmuss who mobilised local tribes of South Persia to fight against the colonial troops of the British Empire. "It's a historical project and it foreshadows current-day issues," says Laupert. He suggests it was Wassmuss who sparked the 20th century's first "jihad". Sometimes dubbed Germany's Lawrence of Arabia, Wassmuss returned to the region after the war and became a pioneering aid developer. Laupert's first film, Seven Days Sunday, played at the Rotterdam and Tribeca film festivals earlier this year.

Kiss Me, You Fucking Moron! (Nor)

Dir/scr: Stian Kristiansen

Budget: $2.1m (EUR1.5m)

Funds raised: $22,600 (EUR16,500)

Earlier this year, Stian Kristiansen's first film, The Man Who Loved Yngve, earned him four of Norway's top film honours, the Amanda Awards.

His second project, Kiss Me, You Fucking Moron!, is another coming-of-age story. A comedy drama, it delves into a 15-year-old girl's life, including her strange love for sombre contemporary theatre, and a crush on a boy who is her opposite: a footballer with who she knows she should not fall in love. "She is battling everyone around her, and she is also at a turning point in her life," says Kristiansen.

Dakota (Sp)

Dir: Rafa Cortes

Scr: Cortes, adapted from the play of the same name by Jordi Galceran

Budget: $2.7m (EUR2m)

"Dreams and reality are of equal importance," says Rafa Cortes of the tension at the heart of his dark comedy Dakota. It follows a Spanish dentist in New York who has everything, but loses it all. On screen, Cortes wants to blur the distinction between the 'conscious' and 'sleeping' sequences in his lead character's life.

Cortes himself is a part-time New Yorker and will draw on his own multi-cultural experiences of the US and Spain. His first film, Me (Yo), took the Fipresci Revelation of the Year prize in Cannes in 2007.

Guilt (It)

Dir: Toni D'Angelo

Scrs: D'Angelo, Fulvio Bergamin, Luca Gesualdo, Marcello Olivieri

Budget: $3.4m (EUR2.5m)

"Guilt is a classic noir film with all the elements of the genre, including a femme fatale," says Toni D'Angelo, of this story about a man who falsely becomes a 'hero' after committing a murder the police believe to be self-defence. D'Angelo's first film was the Naples-set A Night about five friends who reunite after a mutual friend's funeral. D'Angelo has previously worked as an assistant to Abel Ferrara.

Hullabaloo (Ice)

Dir: Gunnar Bjorn Gudmundsson

Scr: Gudmundsson and Otto Geir Borg based on the novel Hullabaloo (Gauragangur) by Olafur Haukur Simonarson

Budget: $2m (EUR1.5m)

Funds raised: $722,000 (EUR530,000)

"It's a coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old rebel poet," says Gunnar Bjorn Gudmundsson. "It's a bit retro too." The film is set in Iceland as the 1970s turn into the 1980s. "It was an era when two zeros were chopped off the currency and we had the first female president. Everything is exploding in the character's internal and external life," says the director. Based on a best-selling novel which is required reading in many Icelandic schools, Gudmundsson says his lead character is charming, fun and inventive. The director will be in Rome following the success of his first film, Astropia, the most successful local film in Iceland last year.

Shun Lee And The Poet (It)

Dir/scr: Andrea Segre

Budget: $2.3m (EUR1.7m)

Shun Lee And The Poet follows the romantic, difficult friendship between an illegal Chinese immigrant and a retired Italian fisherman set on the Venetian island of Chioggia. The project gives director Andrea Segre the chance to delve into his preferred themes: immigration and the after-effects of the economic boom in his native northern Italy's Veneto region. The Veneto previously led the Italian emigration wave abroad but in the 21st century has turned into a destination for immigrants. Segre's 2007 feature documentary La Mal'ombra, about the tension between industrial development and the quality of life, won the Avanti! Award at the Turin Film Festival's Italiana.doc section.