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TRAINING Southeast Europe

Goethe-Institut launches First Films First


- The Young Directors' Academy South-Eastern Europe is an intensive training programme aiming to support young directors as they develop their first feature films

Goethe-Institut launches First Films First

The educational platform First Films First (FFF), the Goethe-Institut’s Young Directors’ Academy South-Eastern Europe, is set to take off on 15 January with a call for entries for participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. The deadline for project submission is 1 April, at

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The selection of the candidates will be carried out in two rounds: first, each country pre-selects up to two national candidates, and in the second round, an international jury comprising five established film professionals selects eight projects out of the ones pre-selected by each country. 

Each of the four teaching/tutoring modules over the year will be hosted by the four relevant partner film festivals in the region: the Transilvania International Film Festival in Cluj (Romania), the Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers’ Film Festival in Bitola (Macedonia), the Belgrade Auteur Film Festival (Serbia) and the Sofia International Film Festival (Bulgaria).

“During their studies at the film faculties, students learn the basics of filmmaking and shoot short films. However, when they finish their studies, they face huge tasks that they have to deal with on their own: developing a feature-length film that they are making for the first time and entering the complex professional world of European co-productions and the international film scene,” says Serbian writer-director and lecturer at the Belgrade Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Stefan Arsenijević, who developed the programme’s concept. 

“Unlike German film schools, almost none of the film schools in the region provides the students with a feature-film project for their graduation. Also, due to the lack of funding in the region, international co-productions are usually the only chance for the filmmakers to produce their films.”

The programme will focus on developing stories and turning them into scripts, finding a unique visual film style, trying out specific and daring approaches to directing as well as producing, pitching and packaging first feature-length fiction-film projects. The tutors will be some of Europe’s leading filmmakers and experts.

The final results of the programme will be completely developed film projects, ready to enter the international arena. At the end of the last module in Sofia, each participant will receive an FFF Young Directors’ Goethe-Academy SEE Certificate, which marks the end of the project development phase. At this point, the projects are ready to apply to national and international funds for film production. The certificate will serve as a distinctive stamp of quality that the FFF programme participants can use in their applications to the film funds.

Furthermore, the FFF scheme will help the participants as they take their first steps onto the international stage. The programme actually finishes with the pitching and presentation of the projects in front of a group of internationally recognised producers, commissioning editors, distributors and fund representatives at the Sofia Meetings, one of the leading regional co-production markets.

The call for entries will be published on the project’s, the Goethe-Institut’s and the partner festivals’ websites, and will be distributed via informational booklets on the aforementioned international film festivals.

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