A crossroads at Thessaloniki
by David González
- Agora, the Greek festival's industry section, welcomes 14 projects to its 11th Crossroads Co-Production Market
This year, the Agora industry section of the 56th Thessaloniki International Film Festival has once again established itself as one of the main landmarks in the European film industry. Focused on projects hailing mainly from the south of the continent, and reaching as far as the Middle East, the Crossroads Co-Production Market continues its evolution as a launch pad – films like this year's successes Mustang [+see also:
interview: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
film profile], As I Open My Eyes [+see also:
interview: Leyla Bouzid
film profile] and Motherland [+see also:
film profile] have passed through here. “Because of the economic crisis, we had to cut down the number of projects selected to 14 – but we still made some room for territories like Central Europe as well,” explains Agora industry coordinator Marie-Pierre Macia, “although our aim has always been to prioritise Greece, and that is why we have kept the same number of projects from here. We feel that that has been our role since the beginning, to create a space for the Greek film industry's potential – we have allowed a whole generation of producers and filmmakers to be born and grow up.” Out of the 14 projects selected, a total of four come from Greece.
The first feature film Elefsina, by Alexandros Kouras, attempts to tackle the connection between the past and the present, through three different characters and a setting that is just as important as a fourth protagonist. The city of Elefsina engulfs their lives; the movie is split into three different stories reaching back into the past. “It is a hard-hitting drama, but with some optimism to it. I want to capture a dark visual melancholy, James Gray-style, but I want to think that after the ending there is a sun coming out for the viewer,” remarks Kouras, who has already directed several shorts. The film, produced by Georges Kyriakos and Effie Skrobola for Athens' View Master Films, is budgeted at €550,000, and is looking for co-production and international sales.
The Land of No One, the first fiction film by documentary directors Christina Koutsospyrou and Aran Hughes, will travel to an isolated community of Orthodox monks. Stranded on the island of Strofades, five men live immersed in their spiritual devotion and struggle with the problems that something like this can create in their everyday lives. The filmmaking duo, selected for the Berlinale in 2013 with their ethno-documentary To The Wolf [+see also:
film profile], are taking a step into fiction, but are keeping their same contemplative style. “Ever since we directed our previous film, we wanted to start directing actors, which we would not be able to do in a documentary,” explains Koutsospyrou. The movie, highly influenced by their artistic approach bordering on photography, is being produced by Vasilis Chrysanthopoulos (Miss Violence [+see also:
interview: Alexandros Avranas
film profile]) for Plays2Place Productions, is budgeted at €650,000 and is looking for key partners, from financiers to distributors.
Haris Raftogiannis' first fiction film, The River, tells a love story between a man and a woman who share a common passion for chicken nuggets, set in the greater beltway of Athens, commonly known as “the river”. It is “a contemporary fairy tale”, in the words of producer Eleni Kossyfidou, that bursts into the gap between the two worlds that collide in this area: one that is modern, rich and generates waste, and another that is old, poor and collects that waste. Raftiogiannis says, “Although it has a classical structure, it is a very abstract vision of a fairy tale. I'm influenced by a lot of genres that I mix: dark comedies, melodramas, road movies... but I believe in a different type of cinema.” The film, produced by Kossyfidou (Xenia [+see also:
interview: Panos H. Koutras
film profile]) for Blackbird Production, is budgeted at €720,000 and is seeking co-production partners.
One of the timeliest topics tackled at the market will be that of I Will Cross Tomorrow. The new film by Iranian-born, French-based Sepideh Farsi (Red Rose [+see also:
film profile]) focuses on what may be born from the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. A 40-year-old woman takes off to Lesbos, where she meets a 25-year-old man from Syria who is fleeing the war, and their fates intertwine in a desperate love story. A co-production between France and Greece, the film is looking forward to being a big European and Turkish co-production, budgeted at €1,220,018. Producers Panos Karabinis and Thierry Lenouvel say, “The project is there to examine this bigger question. There is a small story (the love story) that is timeless, but there is a bigger one within which it is set, which is now more important than it was two years ago, when the project started – and which is ultimately a European responsibility.” Karabinis is producing for Pan Entertainment and Lenouvel for Ciné-Sud Promotion.
European countries have also taken a big slice of the cake in terms of their presence at the event. Romania is present with Charlton Heston, a family drama that kicks off with a car accident, directed by Andrei Cretulescu and produced by Codruta Cretulescu for Kinosseur Productions; and The Mistake, a coming-of-age story dealing with violence and moral dilemmas directed by Mircea Nestor, and produced by Anca Puiu (a regular collaborator with Cristi Puiu) and Raluca Paduraru for Mandragora. Albania is present with A Shelter Among the Clouds, set in a rural Albanian village, directed by Robert Budina and produced by Sabina Kodra for Erafilm. Italy is also at the event with The T Factor, a story about transexuality and gender identity directed by Francesco Costabile and produced by Alessandra Grilli for Controra Film. And the former Yugoslavia is present through Usud, where two brothers inherit a farm from their father, directed by Stefan Malesevic and produced by Vladimir Vasiljevic for Serbia's EED// Productions, in co-production with Bosnia's Slovofilm.
Projects from Turkey also feature heavily at the market. The Death of Black Horses, directed by Ferit Karahan and produced by Gülistan Acet for FK Film, delves into a Kurdish village back in 1914. The Disappeared, directed by Ramin Matin and produced by Emine Yildirim for Giyotin Films and Asli Erdem for Beatrice Films, tells the story of a Turkish town where men suddenly disappear. And Interrogation, directed by Haci Orman and produced by Serkan Acar for Filmfabrik Film and Television, is a drama-thriller built on political chases and spies.
Lastly, the Middle East is also represented with the Israeli project The Seam Line, directed by Nir Sa'ar and produced by Amir Harel for Lama Films – a suspenseful drama set in ever-erupting Jerusalem – and the Lebanese project Tide, directed and produced by Hussen Ibraheem – a drama about a married couple who lose their child.
The co-production market will hand out awards to its projects, decided upon by an international jury, on Friday evening.
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