Culture Minister Neumann attending; Connecting Cottbus copro market convenes for 12th time.

Srdjan Koljevic’s The Woman With A Broken Nose will open the 20th edition of FilmFestival Cottbus (November 2-7) as part of a gala ceremony tonight, which will be attended by Germany’s State Minister of Culture Bernd Neumann at the east German town’s impressive Art deco Staatstheater.

The International Jury of Brazilian filmmaker Sandra Kogut, Indian director Shahant Shah, festival director Fernanda Silva, German actress Anjorka Strechel and Serbian director Vladimir Perisic (whose Ordinary People won Best Film and Best Actor in Cottbus last year) will be entrusted with the task of selecting the winners from the Feature Film Competition’s ten-film lineup of East European cinema.

This year’s competition includes Agnes Kocsis’ Cannes FIPRESCI prize-winner Adrienn Pal, Estonian Veiko Öunpuu’s Sundance title The Temptation Of St. Tony as well as Bogdan George Apetri’s Outbound and Oleg Novkovic’s White White World, which both had their world premieres at the Locarno Film festival in August, and Kyrgyz filmmaker Aktan Arym Kubat’s The Light Thief.

In previous years, the festival programme featured regional focuses, but the anniversary edition will have a special sidebar entitled globalEAST to trace the various influences of Eastern Europe on contemporary international cinema. Films being screened here include Ineke Smits’ The Aviator Of Kazbek, Eran Riklis’ The Human Resources Manager, Svetoslav Draganov’s documentary The Children Of Drujba and Sandra Kogut’s film essay A Hungarian Passport.

Moreover, a whole day will be dedicated to new Russian films in Russkiy Den and Cottbus will continue its collaboration with Wroclaw’s ERA New Horizons festival to stage Polskie Horizonty showcasing the diversity of contemporary Polish cinema.

Danis Tanovic’s comic drama Cirkus Columbia will screen as the festival’s official closing film after the awards ceremony on Saturday 6th November

Meanwhile, the festival will see the staging of the 12th edition of the East-West co-production market Connecting Cottbus from November 4-5 presenting 15 new projects to potential financiers and co-producers.

Around 90 projects from 22 countries were submitted for consideration, almost twice the number entered by producers last year.

As the winner of the film festival’s main prize for Ordinary People last year, filmmaker Vladimir Perisic also received the CoCo Special Pitch Award, which gives him the opportunity to pitch his new project The Worker’s Sea in this forum.

Other projects selected for the public pitchings and one-to-one meetings range from Russian actor-director Ivan Shvedoff’s modern fairytale The Christmas Star and Georgian writer-director Vano Burduli’s Flight Tbilisi-Tbilisi, love story-thriller based on true events from 1983,  through Romanian Adrian Sitaru’s realistic tragicomedy Domestic,  and Alexei German Jr.’s first contemporary feature project Under Electric Clouds to Israeli director Shimon Shai’s feature debut Paradise, to be produced by Gal Greenspan’s GREENproductions.

Projects pitched at past editions of Connecting Cottbus have included two of this year’s competition films – White White World and Tilva Rosh – as well as Stefan Komanderev’s The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner, Bogdan Slama’s Something Like Happiness, Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s Dau, Gabriel Achim’s Adalbert’s Dream, and Yavor Gardev’s Zincograph.

This edition of Connecting Cottbus will be the last one to be organized by artistic director Gabriele Brunnenmeyer who is to be succeeded by journalist and festival curator Bernd Buder.