Sarajevo’s August 21 panel will look at co-productions with lower budgets.

Sarajevo Film Festival’s co-production market CineLink partners this year with Germany and four of its regional funds: Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH), MFG Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM). On this occasion, a seminar titled Co-producing With Germany On Lower Budgets will be held on Aug 21.

Germany is the most active co-producing partner for films from South East Europe, with 13 minority co-productions with German participation released in 2012 only. However, average production budget for films from the region has been constantly decreasing over the past years, meaning that German regional funding systems spending requirements are becoming harder to meet on one side, while at the same time pressure on German funds to attract projects that generate bigger regional spent, mounts on the other.

Eva Hubert [pictured], the Executive Director of FFHSH, explains that “In some projects it is difficult to raise at least a part of the financing in the Balkan region. Therefore for us it is easier going with fund money into low budget projects in which our contribution is rather modest.”

CEO of MDM Manfred Schmidt adds: “A good script is always only one of the criteria for successful funding. There are also all the economic aspects like shooting, budget, financing, marketing. Unfortunately, some of the Balkan countries and other territories in Eastern Europe are facing hard times and cuts in the public budgets and I hope that those problems can be solved in the near future.”

But Hubert and Schmidt agree that some of the most interesting stories and film-makers in today’s cinema are coming from the region and that this co-operation is crucial for them.

 “The stories of filmmakers of the Balkan region are very strong and intense because of the recent history. Filmmakers really have something to tell and that is a big advantage,” says Hubert.

“We have always put a loft of efforts in bringing our local producers in contact and partnerships with the East European film industry and by the time many fruitful relationships were established. The outcome of this are unique films of on a high artistic level that made their way to the biggest festivals,” says Schmidt.

Oliver Zeller from MFG Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg and Brigitte Manthey from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg will join Hubert and Schmidt as speakers at the seminar which will be moderated by Martina Bleis,Manager of Official Projects at the Berlinale.

The CineLink Partner Country Initiative was established in 2005 in order to systematically strengthen the working relationship between professionals and institutions from South East Europe and their international counterparts. Germany was already partner country in 2005, and other previous partners include France, Switzerland, Israel, Sweden, Ireland, Cine Regio, Netherlands and Austria.