The Venice Production Bridge is becoming increasingly faithful to its name. The Venice Film Festival market returns for its sixth edition from August 29 to September 3 with a new organizational layout for the spaces that satisfies “the desire to reconnect various places and create bridges between the new and old protagonists of the Venice industry days”, the market director Pascal Diot explains to Cinema & Video International.
From August 29 to September 2 the Spazio Incontri panels – for accredited users only – will be hosted on the island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, the ‘home’ of virtual reality, in order to promote connections between professionals and what immediately stood out as the most promising vocation of the market and the festival (from September 3 to 7 the Spazio Incontri will move to the third floor of the Hotel Excelsior which is also accessible to the unaccredited public).
This was underlined by Michel Reilhac who, with Liz Rosenthal, is responsible for the VR selection:
“Every year” says Reilhac “here we portray what is happening in the world of immersive media that is constantly growing and in continual evolution, which is why we also adopt new ways of presenting the projects. What doesn’t change is the strong commitment of the Biennale to proposing this type of content. To date Venice is the only big festival in the world that includes a competition for virtual reality, which is remarkable.”
In addition to the competition and the ‘best of ’ section that presents the finest VR works that have passed through the festivals in recent years, there are 20 “work in progress” virtual reality projects present at the Venice Gap-Financing Market.
12 are immersive reality stories (8 European and 4 from outside Europe) which include documentary dramas, animation and interactive installations, where 30% of the budget is guaranteed. These include “African Space Makers”, a coproduction between Kenya and Germany produced by Italy’s Vincenzo Cavallo and by Isa Mohamed (Cultural Video Production, Black Rhino VR, INVR).
“We are expecting a lot from this project which is realized by one of the best and most unique companies making virtual reality in Africa, Black Rhino, and produced by an Italian with in-depth knowledge of the subject of his documentary, i.e. the explosive creative scenario that exists today in Nairobi”. Then there are the 8 projects developed during the third edition of the Biennale College Cinema VR workshop that are returning to Venice for a further pitch to help close the budget. Here we find the Italian project on Leonardo Da Vinci “Doubts of a Genius” by Matteo Lonardi.
The Italian presence in this sector is not very robust, but things are destined to change, Reilhac assures us, also considering the commitment of the Biennale to setting up, from this year, a ‘branch’ of the Biennale College Cinema VR dedicated only to Italian projects.
The first workshop was held in July, with six Italian works, two of which will go on to be part of the 2020 international selection. “We were decidedly surprised by the quality level and the creative and technical expertise of these Italian teams” declares Reilhac, “and we are certain that we will have an increasing number of Italian projects, both in the market and in the competition. I am very optimistic about the future of virtual reality in Italy.”
Completing the selection of the Gap Financing Market are another 28 products made up of drama features and documentaries (with at least 70% of the production budget guaranteed), and three projects developed during the seventh edition of Biennale College Cinema.
The products selected include Jasmila Zbanic with “Quo Vadis Aida” (working title) produced by Deblokada (a coproduction between Bosnia Herzegovina, Austria, Romania, Netherlands, Poland, Germany, France), Bruce La Bruce with “Saint-Narcisse” (Canada) produced by Les Films 1976 & Six Island Productions, and Agnieszka Holland with “Šarlatan” (Czech Republic), produced by Marlene Film Production.
Well known faces from European and American independent cinema demonstrating the fact that “being known and appreciated does not simply mean funding a movie, especially for very authorial stories” notes Diot who, in any case, this year has tried to give the selection a more commercial stamp – there are lots more genre movies, various thrillers, films that look towards a wider audience …A choice that is also a response to last year’s requests from the financiers invited to the one to one meetings. However there are plenty of festivals and coproduction forums that concentrate on arthouse films which, in any case, we still continue to partly include.”
Many titles actually come from other prestigious market rendezvous dedicated to development, according to what Diot defines as “the natural conclusion of a journey: after having received support for development the projects start production and often then still need to close the last financing gap.” “La nuit de rois” (France, Canada, Ivory Coast) by Philippe Lacôte, produced by Bhanshee Films arrives from the Torino Film Lab where it also recently won the Audience Design Fund; whereas “Iguana Tokyo” (Turkey, Germany, Japan) by Kaan Müjdeci, produced by Colored Girafes passed through the Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s Eastern Promises (among the candidates for the Eurimages Lab Project Award), as well as the Cinefondation L’Atelier of the 69th Cannes Film Festival.
The documentary “The Quest for Tonewood” (Norway, Italy, Bosnia Herzegovina) by Hans Lukas Hansen, produced by Eirin Hogetveit of Norsk, made a stopover at When East Meets West and also won the Producers’ Network Prize at the Trieste coproduction forum.
The French-Moroccan project “Mica” by Ismaël Ferroukhi (produced by La Prod) will participate in both the Gap Financing Market and Final Cut in Venice, the project which, since 2013 has been supporting the post production of movies from African countries and from Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria demonstrating, explains Diot, “that our programs are truly complementary. This is a very strong project that we believe in.”
Then there is just one other drama feature film and 4 documentary films, “a prevalence that is due to both the good level of documentary film production in this region as well as the fact that it is more difficult to receive good drama projects now that the festivals of Abu Dabi and Dubai, and their respective funds and coproduction markets, have gone.”
There are four Italian movies in the Venice Gap Financing Market: the documentary “Guerra e Pace” (Italy, Switzerland, France) by Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti (produced by Montmorency Film),“Spaccapietre” (Italy, France) by Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio (La Sarraz Pictures Srl), the Italian-Argentinian-Chilean “Re Granchio” by Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis (Ring Film), and “The Last Ride of the Wolves” (Netherlands, Italy) by Alberto de Michele, (Halal). Finally, the three Biennale Cinema projects include “The Properties of Metal” produced by Kiné Società Cooperativa. The GAP Financing Market will be held on the third floor of the Hotel Excelsior which will also welcome the Book Adaptation Rights Market (August 30-September 1), where 25 publishers will present their catalogue to audiovisual professionals. “The number of publishers has grown, and we also have more Italian firms”, says Diot. They are: DeA Planeta Libri, Feltrinelli Editore, Giulio Einaudi Editore, Gruppo Editoriale Mauri Spagnol, Nottetempo and Rizzoli (Mondadori Libri SpA).
The Excelsior will also host the exhibition area and the European Film Forum which will be held on August 31 in the Sala Stucchi, the theme of which will be “European stories go global: promoting European au- diovisual works beyond Europe”.