The Bulgarian movie “Women do cry” by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova of Activist 38, won the Film Center Serbia Development Award, the main award at When East Meets West, the co-production forum organized by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Audiovisual Fund directed by Paolo Vidali, together with the Trieste Film Festival during which it was held from January 19 to 22.

Two female directors and producers as strongly opposed at home (where they were known as the Demoniac Duo) as they are highly appreciated abroad, becoming multi-award winners at international festivals (after the premiere at Locarno and the FIPRESCI Award at the Warsaw Festival, in Trieste they were in competition with their “Cat in the wall” which is being sold around the world by Italy’s Coccinelle).

This is significant for an edition which, as Alessia Sonaglioni pointed out when presenting the EWA award to the Armenian director Mery Aghakhanyan for “Irene’s world”, “has reached a gender balance, with women being involved in 12 projects out of 22”.
An edition which, possibly not coincidentally, saw in the projects “a very interesting gallery of male characters who are not afraid of revealing their weaknesses” as the two winners point out.

“The existence of the EWA award is certainly an incentive that has boosted the participation of women” says Alessandro Gropplero, director of the market, “but this is placed within a general trend that has seen a decisive increase in the number of applications, from 91 at the first edition to almost 350 at this last one.”

A quantitative but, above all, qualitative increase and, adds Gropplero, “if almost all the main awards went to female directors (in addition to those mentioned above, the Pop Up Film Residency Award went to “Ordinary Failures” directed by Cristina Grosan, written by Klára Vlasáková, and the Flow Post Production Award to “Strandzha”, a documentary directed by Pepa Hristova and produced by Julia Cöllen and Martichka Bozhilova), this was possibly due to the fact that they represented an interesting variety, ranging from drama to visionary, dystopic or catastrophic projects. We are very pleased with this year’s proposals: maybe not everyone liked all the projects, but everyone certainly found one to fall in love with.”

This is also confirmed by the very high number of requests for one-to-one meetings: “even before the forum began around 700 meetings were already booked by the professionals just on the basis of having consulted the catalogue.”

“Our project received a very positive response here at WEMW, even from Italy where we think the opportunities for foreign productions are very interesting” say Mileva and Kazakova.

Croatian producer Ankica Jurić Tilić from Kinorama, and German producer Titus Kreyenberg from Una Film spoke about the new opportunities for co-productions.
They were the protagonists of the panel dedicated to co-productions between Eastern and Western Europe over the last ten years, the period of time during which WEMW was born and became established and which, on the occasion of its tenth birthday, realized a report analyzing the evolutions of the sector through almost 500 co-production cases.
The increase in the latter has accelerated since 2014, also due to the growing participation in workshops and dedicated markets, and to the introduction of tax incentives and plans for minority co-productions in many countries, including Italy.

“A co-production entails an exchange of knowledge between the different approaches to the solution of that problem we call film” states Kreyenberg who, like his Croatian colleague, says he is enthusiastic about the opportunities offered by the various training initiatives for producers that did not exist at the beginning of their careers.

Last December, within the sphere of the European Film Awards, Tilić was assigned the Eurimages Co-production Award, in recognition of the decisive role played by co- productions in the promotion of international exchanges.

“I have greatly intensified my collaboration with Italy now, also thanks to the new law, with a film co- produced with Ascent, “The Down”, by Dalibor Matanic, filmed last year in Aviano with the support of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission which will also be giving a contribution to “”Illyricum” that Simon Bogojevic Narath will be filming next summer, in co-production with La Sarraz Pictures. “La ragazza ha volato” by Wilma Labate (who wrote it together with the D’Innoncenzo Brothers), was instead co-produced with Sarah Pennacchi’s Tico Film in collaboration with Ines Vasiljevic and Gianluca Arcopinto.” reveals Tilić.

Finally, she is working on a co-production, “Traces”, with Nightswim, a project that also involves Lithuania and Romania, hosted once again at WEMW after having taken part in the Midpoint Feature Launch program, the platform for up-and-coming talents from Central and Eastern Europe tackling their first or second work which, after having completed their one year journey, return to Trieste to meet potential financial and artistic partners.

COLD OPEN&SHORTS: Trieste is increasingly MIDPOINT
The collaboration between When East meets West and Midpoint continues and is renewed with another two programs which are significative of the desire to follow the evolutions of the market with particular attention to the development of stories by young writers and the need for theatrical producers to equip themselves for the challenges represented by television series.

This is exactly what Cold Open was dedicated to, a program of conferences, group sessions and individual consultations directed towards ten independent producers including Italians Nadia Trevisan from Nefertiti Film and Luigi Chimenti from Disparte.

Midpoint Shorts is instead the new program dedicated to the latest generation of European filmmakers: WEMW hosted the second of two workshops dedicated to the development of four shorts.
These included “Team Building” written and directed by the young Polish tal- ent Mateusz Pacewicz, who wrote the screenplay for “Corpus Christi”, Poland’s Oscar nomination. Pacewicz describes the short as “a black comedy on capitalism, romantic love and orgies. With the producer, Ludka Kierczak, we wanted to make this film outside the structures delegated to the production of shorts in Poland, to avoid losing the rights, and we knew we needed the international attention that is exactly what an event like this guaranteed us.”

A part from the Midpoint programs, the attention to the development phase was also evidenced by WEMW hosting the announcement of the winners of the RE-ACT co-development fund which involves the Audiovisual Fund of the FVG, the Croatian Audiovisual Center, and the Slovenian Film Center, next year the Film Center Serbia will also come on board; and the Italy Baltic Development Award for Co-Production which was actually born at WEMW as an evolution of the Baltic Award and assigned by the MiBAC (Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities), the Lithuanian Film Center, the Estonian Film Institute, and the National Film Center of Latvia.

So, every year WEMW increasingly confirms its desire to set down roots in all the phases of the production process, from writing to post-production, and beyond.

While the sessions of This is it (won by “Spaccapietre” by the De Serio Brothers, produced by La Sarraz Pictures) and First Cut Lab, were already dedicated to projects in an advanced state of production or post- production, the evolution of the latter has led to the creation of First Cut Plus, realized in tandem with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

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