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Highlights - 08/07/2010


Life's a pitch ! Co-production meetings at European festivals


Nowadays, a year doesn't seem to go by without another European festival announcing plans to launch a co-production market or pitch forum to present new feature films or documentaries looking for potential production partners.To outsiders, it may seem that some projects presented at these meetings have a long way to go before they are realised – and some inevitably fall by the wayside or are made as purely national productions instead of the originally intended co-production. But many of those films winning prizes at international festivals and subsequently finding their way into the film programmes of Europa Cinemas members had their origins at one of these co-production events.The following journey through the film industry calendar doesn't claim to offer an exhaustive list, but rather will give a taster of the variety and specialities of the co-production events staged each year.



The international film community traditionally congregates in Rotterdam at the end of January for the CineMart which describes itself as the “mother of all co-production markets” since it was the first one of its kind to be established 27 years ago.In fact, the formula of introducing projects to potential co-producers, sales agents, television buyers, distributors and financiers in one-to-one meetings has been proven to be so successful that the model has been adopted by many other festivals for their own co-production markets. Thus, CineMart has inspired events in Berlin, Hong Kong, Cannes, New York, Paris and Sarajevo, among others.

This year, CineMart selected 33 projects from 24 countries from more than 400 entries, including new projects by Veit Helmer (Baikonur), Patrice Toye (Erased), and Scott Graham (Shell).Over the years, more than 430 of the selected projects have been completed and launched at international festivals and cinemas, including such "success stories" as Samuel Maoz's Lebanon, Caroline Strubbe's Lost Persons Area, Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men, and Bruno Dumont's 29 Palms.

Little more than a week after CineMart, the Berlinale holds its own Co-Production Market over three days to present projects from producers with international experience who have least 30% of their financing in place when they come to pitch in Berlin.Since being launched in 2004, the Berlin event has seen 40% of its projects – around 90 films – either in production or completed. This year saw three former projects screening in official sections of the Berlinale: The Hunter by Rafi Pitts, selected for Competition; Esmir Filho's Brazilian-French debut The Famous And The Dead, screening in Generation 14plus; and Georgian filmmaker Rusudan Pirveli's Susa (Generation KPlus).Moreover, Berlin collaborates with CineMart for the Rotterdam-Berlinale Express where three promising projects from the Rotterdam market are given another airing in Berlin to potential partners. Three projects were selected this year: Alexey Balabanov's Leather, AndreyZvyagintsev's Elena and Florin Serban's El Rumano.

There's little respite for co-producers and financiers before the next co-production event appears on the horizon in mid-March: the Sofia Meetings which combines public pitchings with one-to-one meetings.Apart from the Second Feature Film pitching session, there is Plus-Minus One for first or third features and Sofia CineLinks Sarajevo programme including projects from non-EU member countries.Now in its 7th year, the Sofia Meetings have hosted pitches in the past for such films as Kamen Kalev's Eastern Plays and Darko Lungulov's Here And There. Moreover, this industry platform of the Sofia International Film Festival organises the Balkan Screenings, including "works in progress" and completed Bulgarian productions shown at the Europa Cinemas member Cinema House (Dom na Kinoto), among others.



A relative youngster in the co-production market world – BUFF:FF Financing Forum in Sweden's Malmö – was held for the fourth time this year during the BUFF International Children's Film Festival and specialises on facilitating co-productions of film, TV and new media for children.This year also saw the staging of the 2nd KIDS Regio Forum on the future of children's film in Europe on the eve of BUFF:FF as well as the Financing Forum collaborating with the Nordic Game Programme to present a Cross Media innovation hub to explore developing ideas across the film and games industries and other platforms.While the focus at BUFF:FF may seem rather Nordic, the event is open to projects from all over Europe and further afield. The 2010 lineup included pitches by German director Markus Dietrich's for his feature debut Sputnik and by the Brazilian producer Pedro Rovai for Taina 3.

Meanwhile, the Visions du Réel festival in Nyon (Switzerland) has worked with the European Documentary Network (EDN) for five years now to organise Pitching du Réel devoted to feature-length documentary films each April. Ever since it was created, the co-production meeting has aimed to be the launchpad for projects having an artistic ambition and a potential on the main sales markets, and it is open to both experienced filmmakers as well as talented young film directors.A whole day is devoted to the public pitchings of ten projects to an audience of commissioning editors, producers, distributors, sales agents and financiers, with subsequent one-to-one meetings that can go into even more detail.

The Cannes Film Festival, of course, could not be outdone by the competition and has had its own event, the Producers Network, since 2004. Allowing producers to extend their international network by connecting with the numerous film professionals staying in Cannes, this initiative is reserved for producers who have produced at least one feature film that was theatrically released in the last three years. Selection is made on the basis of a company's production experience rather than of a project. Each morning, internationally renowned "guests of honour" are invited to share their experiences in thematic roundtable discussions during Breakfast Meetings; and producers can talk about their projects during Speed Dating sessions and the Happy Hours rounding off each day.


Meanwhile, co-production events have become a regular fixture at several of the summer festivals – ranging from the Paris Project at the Paris Cinéma IFF in July through Locarno's Open Doors in August and Sarajevo's CineLink (in July for 2010 and 2011).

The three-day Paris Project selects around a dozen international projects in development and a handful of films in postproduction that are looking for French or European partners as co-producers or sales agents.
Last year, more than 349 professionals from 110 companies attended Paris Project and 332 one-to-one meetings were scheduled.

With the creation of its Open Doors event eight years ago, the Locarno Film Festival in August established a workshop for new discoveries to cast the spotlight on regions in the world with a burgeoning film industry. Last year, the focus was on Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, while previous editions have showcased projects from Latin America, the Maghreb, the Near and Middle East, among others. The 2010 Open Doors Factory will host filmmakers from Central Asia.
Among the projects pitched here in the past are Oscar Ruiz Navia's Crab Trap, Marcela Said's The Summer Of Flying Fish and Simon El Habre's The One-Man Village.
In addition, the Open Doors Screenings offer public and professionals alike the chance to discover the cinema of these countries through a representative selection of around 20 films during the festival.

Normally, Sarajevo Film Festival's own co-production market, CineLink, would be a week or so after Open Doors, but the dates for Ramadan this year and 2011 mean that the festival and industry platform will be held at the end of July instead.
Inspired by Rotterdam's CineMart and launched in 2003, the Sarajevo event has one difference in that the 15-odd promising projects selected from Southeast Europe participate in a series of development workshops before being pitched at the CineLink financing market which is held during the last three days of the film festival.
With some 300 professionals attending from all over Europe, CineLink has quickly become the leading event for a regional film industry in transition. Past projects included Catalin Mitulescu's A Heart Shaped Balloon, Florin Serban's Silver Bear winner If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle, and Semih Kaplanoglu's Golden Bear winner Honey.De plus, des projections de films terminés, polonais et d’Europe de l'Est, ont lieu au CentEast de Varsovie au Kino Kultura Rejs, membre d’Europa Cinemas. Un autre membre du réseau, le multiplexe Kinoteka, est l’un des principaux lieux du festival.




What started as a few extra screenings for half a dozen festival programmers at the Warsaw Film Festival as the Warsaw Screenings back in October 2000, became CentEast Market Warsaw in 2005 attended by close to 200 participants.
Last year, the CentEast Market was further developed with the Russian partners TVINDIE and the 2MORROW Film Festival into CentEast Warsaw-Moscow. Works-in-progress from Eastern Europe – such as Bulgaria's Tilt and Russia's Cadences - were presented to audiences of international sales agents, distributors and festival programmers just days apart at two events in Warsaw and Moscow.
In addition, screenings of completed Polish and East European films are shown at CentEast Warsaw at the Europa Cinemas member cinema Kino Kultura Rejs, while another network member, the Kinoteka arthouse multiplex, is one of the main venues for the film festival.
Meanwhile, the end of October is traditionally the time when the international documentary film community assembles in Leipzig for DOK Leipzig. Under the new festival director Claas Danielsen, the festival's industrial dimension has been expanded with the establishment of its International Co-Production Meeting bringing some 40 international producers together with potential partners and financiers for individual meetings.
Furthermore, the Europa Cinemas member Passage Kinos provides the venue during DOK Leipzig for the Leipzig Screening where a selection of outstanding new German documentaries are presented on screen to an audience of international buyers, commissioning editors, distributors and sales agents. Many German films have been discovered and bought for the international market during the first four editions of the Leipzig Screening.





Eastern Europe is the focus of three co-production markets in the last two months of the year: Connecting Cottbus East-West Co-Production Market, Thessaloniki's Crossroads and Tallinn's Baltic Event.

Now preparing its 12th edition this November, Connecting Cottbus sees its public pitchings and one-to-one meetings complemented by panel discussions on trends in East-West co-production as well as a review of the progress made by former CoCo projects.Films which have found their partners in Cottbus include Stephan Komanderev's The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner, Bohdan Slama's Happiness and Oleg Novkovic's White White World.


The Thessaloniki International Film Festival, meanwhile, has been home for the past five years to the Crossroads Co-Production Forum dedicated to projects from the Mediterranean or Balkans or with a link to these regions.Headed by Marie Pierre Macia, Crossroads has a particular focus on countries with a low production activity and scouts for new talent in these countries to provide providers with opportunities to make their work known in a wider market.Previous editions have included projects by such filmmakers as Raoul Ruiz, Yesim Ustaoglu, Zornitsa Sophia, Anne-Marie Jacir, Semih Kaplanoglu and Radu Jude.

Finally, the year is round off with Tallinn's Baltic Event, the largest regional market and the best place to meet the Baltic film industry in three days of networking, pitching and discovering fresh talent at the beginning of December.The Co-Production Market presents 12 projects from the latest members of the European Union, Russia and Scandinavia, while a Coming Soon programme screens trailers of Baltic film projects in postproduction looking for sales agents and distribution.2009's lineup included such projects as Petri Kotwica's third feature Rat King, Kadri Kousaar's European Psycho and Ella Vakkasova's Aral.In addition, Market Screenings of the latest features from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are shown for invited professionals at the Artis arthouse cinema in the new Solaris Centre.


Co-production markets:

CineMart :

Berlinale Co-Production Market :

Sofia Meetings :


Pitching du Réel :

Producers Network :

Paris Project :

CineLink :

Open Doors :

CentEast :

DOK Leipzig :

Connecting Cottbus :

Crossroads :

Baltic Event :


Three film images:


Eastern Plays by Kamen Kalev (Sofia Meetings)

If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle by Florin Serban (CineLink, Sarajev

Lebanon by Samuel Maoz (CineMart, Rotterdam)