WEMW/The pathway of Stories

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“No one is a prophet in their own land…perhaps that isn’t so true!” says Laura Samani with satisfaction, the young director from Trieste who, with “Small Body” produced by Nefertiti Films, has received the Film Centre Serbia Development Award, winning the 2018 edition of When East Meets West, the Co-Production Forum organized by the Fondo per l’Audiovisivo del Friuli Venezia Giulia – Audiovisual Fund, together with the Trieste Film Festival, and held in Trieste from 21 to 23 January.
A Gothic fairy-tale set at the beginning of the twentieth century and told with, in the words of the filmmaker, “fierce realism and magic. Friuli is a fertile terrain for this because there is a peasant and folklore tradition, a very strong sense of fusion with the land.”
For her debut feature Samani will be returning to film in her homeland where she already set her CSC diploma short, “La Santa che dorme”, presented at Cannes (Cinéfondation) in 2016: “this recognition, awarded by an international jury at such an important rendezvous as WEMW makes me feel as though I am being embraced by the whole community”.

Deep links to the region and increasingly marked internationality: herein lies the success of WEMW which, this year, is

fortified by new awards and new partners whilst remaining strongly anchored to what the director Alessandro Gropplero defines as its core: training, the main objective with which the FVG Fund directed by Paolo Vidali took its first steps even before creating the co-production market.
“Small Body is a project that took advantage of all the options made available by the Regional Fund: from funding for the development to selection at the Torino Film Lab with which we have worked for three years, from the application for
RE-ACT to that for WEMW”.
In fact, thanks to the Slovenian producer Vertigo coming onto the scene, the project candidated itself for and was one of the six winners of the € 800 from RE-ACT, the co-development fund put together by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Fondo Audiovisivo FVG and the Slovenian Film Centre.
But above all “Small Body” has benefitted from, the “human factor of the fund”.
Groppiera explains: “when Laura talked to me about her film two years ago in Cannes, I immediately thought that it was a project to be “stitched” to the region and from this perspective we facilitated her encounter with the local production tissue.” This is how Samani found the right producer for her film, Nadia Trevisan of Nefertiti Films.

And Nadia Trevisan, another true native of Friuli, was actually the ‘face’ of this edition of WEMW where she was present (with “Menocchio” by Alberto Fasulo) in This is it, (the new section dedicated to six drama features produced or co-produced with Italy), in the panel dedicated to co-productions between south east Europe and Scandinavia the countries in this year’s Focus, with “History of Love”, co-produced with the Slovenian Monoo and Norwegian Incitus, already the winner of a past edition of RE-ACT, and presented at WEMW last year where it was as- signed the EAVE scholarship and the TRL Express. Trevisan was also one of the participants in the mentoring initiative dedicated to nine women producers backed by the European Women’s Audiovisual Network which inaugurated its program at WEMW where the EWA subsequently assigned, for the second year, a prize of € 1500 for best director which went to the Slovenian Haidy Kancler, director of “Skiing in Scarves”.

Among the projects which have won RE-ACT, alongside “Small Body”, there is also “The Angel in the Wall” by Lorenzo Bianchini (produced by Tucker Film in co-production with Slovenia’s Bela Film and France’s Ici Et la Productions), which were present at the co-production market last year, and “Inventory” by Darko Sinko, (produced by December in co-production with Croatia’s Hulahop), which instead was presented this year, like “Dark Mother Earth” which won
RE-ACT last year.
Increasingly intertwined tangles, “proof of how “RE-ACT is the heart of When East, which is the result of our fund’s collaboration with Slovenia and Croatia since 2008.”

However the attention to writing does not stop here and this year adds a new element: Midpoint -Feature, a training platform for the development of cinema projects launched in Trieste thanks to the partnership between the eponymous program (which also includes TV) directed towards emerging talents from central and eastern Europe directed by Barbara Struss, WEMW and the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

The projects, developed in Trieste and then subsequently in Serbia, will be presented to decision makers in a pitching session at the Karlovy Vary festival, “the most important festival in eastern Europe which does not yet have a projects market”, explains Gropplero, then will return to Trieste for WEMW 2019 with a more solid financial and production strategy. “An important platform that we started thinking about right here in Trieste last year which is useful for helping projects from this region to progress” says Hugo Rosak, head of the Industry Office of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Attention to the development phase is also central to the work of Heretic Asterisk, the Greek consultancy company experienced in visual marketing which, from this year, is making its expertise available to WEMW with the Visual Marketing Award which was assigned to Jan Tešitel’s “Plague” project produced by the Czech Sirena Film.

The distribution aspect is not yet part of the awards although it is central to the discussion with the panels dedicated to the Single Digital Market Initiative and the question of digital distribution that is slowly transforming not just the habits and places of consumption, but also the modalities of financing cinema.
Marco Urizzi of Eye on Films, the program that supports the distribution of independent films in movie theaters and at festivals, founded and funded by Wide Management in 2011 (in the early years also with the backing of MEDIA), which unites 78 distributors and 53 festivals, spoke about support for distribution. “We are very interested in the regions covered by WEMW”, says Urizzi. “Particularly last year because the countries in Focus were Estonia and France and we had organized an event at the Tallin Festival in November inviting 7 distributors to take part, as a jury, in a focus on 9 films from the Baltic area (market screenings) to which the EYE on Films award would be conferred. Films that subsequently sold very well”.

Last year’s focus on the Baltic countries also generated another award, the Baltic Award: € 3000 was assigned to “I’ll Stand By You” by Virginija Vareikyte and Maximilien Dejoie produced by the Italian M&N and the Lithuanian InScript.
“We would like to continue to incentivize  co-productions with Baltic countries”, says Edith Sepp of the Estonian Film Institute.
“This award confirms that our relations with the countries that are the protagonists of Focus remain solid over time, generating continuity”, says Gropplero, “and in this specific case I believe that it also reflects the desire of the Baltic countries to build a co-development fund with Italy”.

Continuity is also what is guaranteed by Serbia, one of the countries in focus this year, that has made available WEMW’s main award: “For our region the Trieste Festival and this co-production market is one of the most important rendezvous, along with Tessalonica and Sarajevo”, declares Boban Jevtic, head of the Film Center Serbia.
“We passed from 9 to 22 participation requests this year, a clear sign that it is advantageous for Serbian professionals. For this reason I want to continue to support WEMW in the future as well”.

Among the other award-winners at this edition of WEMW, there is the director and producer of “Prison Beauty Contest” Srdjan Sarenac (Novi Film -Bosnia Herzegovina/Serbia) which won the Industry Pass for Hot Docs; the Serbian producer Snezana Penev (Film Deluxe International) and the Norwegian producer Eirin Hogetveit – Norsk Fjernsyn, who won the Producers’ Network Prize, for “Darkling” and “The Quest for Tonewood” respectively; the Serbian producer Dragana Jovovic (Theory at Work) was awarded the EAVE producers’ workshop scholarship for “Freedom Landscapes”.
Finally, the Flow Postproduction Award went to “Confessions of Love” by Tatjana Bozic, produced by the Dutch Volya Films.

Nella sezione: Focus on italyRivista