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REPORT: When East Meets West 2016

“In three years, the level of When East Meets West has grown a great deal,” asserts Giovanni Pompili (Kino Produzioni, Italy), the co-producer of Kentannos (with 16M.Films and Motoneta Cine), by Argentinian director-screenwriter-producer Victor Cruz. Kentannos was the winner of the WEMW Development Award, after being voted the best out of the 22 projects in competition. “The pitch that I did together with Victor got an extraordinarily warm welcome from the audience,” recalls Pompili at the end of the three-day co-production forum, the sixth edition of which took place in Trieste from 24-26 January. Cineuropa spoke to some of those who took part in the event, and here are their impressions:

Asli Filiz – Producer, Bir Film, TURKEY (Project: For Women Only - Producers' Network Prize)
“This was the first co-production forum at which we presented our project For Women Only. We pitched our project to around 300 cinema professionals and then we had around 35 meetings in just one and a half days! It has been very beneficial for us. The professionals who came to meet us were producers, fund representatives, TV commissioning editors and sales agents. We then had successive unplanned meetings with one of the producers after our first, very positive, meeting. So I feel like we’ve found our co-producer in Trieste. I feel that, as we advance through our development stage, we will be able to attract more partners who we met at WEMW. I really enjoyed the event and receiving a small award was a real joy for me.”

Sebastián Barriuso – Director/creative producer, Artisans Media, CUBA (Project: 1989)
“My participation at When East Meet West this year couldn't come at a better time for my project, 1989. At my current stage of development, I had the privilege and joy to meet with representatives from some very interesting companies, important film festivals as well as sales and distribution companies. WEMW showcased my film project in the best possible way, offering very interesting insights and allowing me to test its potential on the marketplace as well as the film festival circuit. I am very pleased with the overall experience and would strongly recommend to fellow filmmakers to try to take part and benefit from such a beautiful experience. Trieste is a gorgeous city and the festival team is very welcoming and professional. The perfect mix for this event!” 

Juan Manuel Betancourt – Producer/director of Sock Mates, COLOMBIA
“For me it was a wonderful experience. The networking process was really worthwhile with possibilities for future collaboration in our selected project as well as with some of our other projects. I think that the most interesting thing about the WEMW is its size because is not so huge as to get messy but it’s quite selective with its participants and guests so you can really meet a lot of amazing people in a short period of time. The projects that were selected were really interesting, although there might have been a slight lack of diversity. They were all really amazing, though. What I found best about this event was its timing, which was perfect because you can follow up on all the meetings shortly afterwards at the Berlinale, where everyone will be going just afterwards, but with enough time to actually study the scripts or projects proposed.”

Beatriz Carvalho – Producer, Klaxon Cultura Audiovisual, BRAZIL (Project: Paris Hotel)
“I really enjoyed the event, I think it was very well organised; the selected projects were outstanding, as were the decision makers that attended the event. I did not make any business deals, but I met a lot of great potential partners.”

Carla Sospedra – Producer, Miss Wasabi Films, SPAIN (Project: What Have We Done Wrong?)
“It was an extraordinary experience and a highly productive one, too. We had the chance to meet a lot of important people in the industry from all over Europe, met awesome new partners for our feature project What Have We Done Wrong?, and shared three incredible days with great directors and producers who all had really, really interesting projects. And I have to say, I was glad to see so many female directors participating in it.”

Santiago M Gallelli – Producer, Rei Cine, ARGENTINA (Project: Dolores)
“Along with its extremely welcoming team and the lovely city, I found WEMW to be both a very enjoyable and fruitful experience. Overall, it’s a unique environment in which to meet Eastern European producers and decision makers who will definitely play a role in our current list of projects.”

Diana Almeida – Producer, Lacuna Filmes, BRAZIL (Project: Amanda & Caio)
“I loved the event. It was a great kick-starter for our project Amanda & Caio and its debut on the international market. We are very excited because the amazing feedback we got showed us our project’s great potential. I'm certain that the connections I made during WEMW can become fruitful partnerships.”

Jacob Dammas – Director/producer, Graniza, POLAND (Project: Mr Jan and His 40 Girls)
“It was a great experience! I like the smaller, more intimate events like WEMW, LisbonDocs, etc, that, despite their size, manage to gather a lot of industry people together in one place and generate a lot of intense energy with a great balance between business and social time. The fact that everything, including its social programme, takes place within walking distance makes you stay focused and stops you wasting time on transport. It is also great that the Trieste film festival is parallel to WEMW so you can watch films, which is, by the way, very important to do, even if time is limited, because it reminds you about why we spend so much time producing a film. The organisation of WEMW was flawless. Especially Alessandro Groppiero,who creates such a good atmosphere which has a positive influence on pitches and one-to-one meetings. I met a lot of inspiring people who gave me good feedback on my project and who also showed genuine interest in becoming a potential partner.” 

Agnieszka Dziedzic – Producer, Koi Studio, POLAND (Project: Stances and Statues - Producers' Network Prize)
“I found this year’s edition very strong both when it came to selected projects and the attending participants. I think it’s simply wonderful that WEMW created such an opportunity for professionals from Europe and Latin America to meet. It’s not easy to co-produce between countries that are so far away and platforms like this are making it possible. The matchmaking process was really easy because, as I’m sure you’ve seen, the guest list was put together very carefully to ensure the best people, who were truly interested in the presented projects, were present. It would never be possible for me to meet all those people in Berlin (the EFM), as everybody is way too busy there. In Trieste, everybody is really taking the time to discuss the projects and share production ‘know-how’. 

“I had the opportunity to talk to several potential partners, including potential co-producers from Argentina and sales agents focusing on the Latin American content. Even though my project, Stances and Statues, is still at a very early stage of development, I’m positive. We benefited a lot from being able to introduce it to the market. I’m also very grateful for the chance to continue the networking and pitching in Cannes this year thanks to the invitation from the Marché du Film. On top of that, it was also really nice to come back to Trieste just to enjoy the atmosphere and hospitality of WEMW. I hope to go back next year!”

Maria Drandaki – Producer, Homemade Films, GREECE (Project: Her Job)
Maria is releasing a film – Interruption by Yorgos Zois – on Thursday. “WEMW was a wonderful experience. The environment, cosy but professional, was the perfect starting platform to introduce a mid-budget first feature from Greece. I think we made the right contacts for co-production and distribution. I was also able to update contacts on other projects I'm developing at the same time. Highly recommended.”

Mila Turajlic – Director/producer, Dribbling Pictures, SERBIA (Project: The Labudovic Files)
“I really enjoyed WEMW, mainly because of the warm and relaxed atmosphere. It’s an easy event to navigate, with everyone in the same space, and I found that that really made it easy to contact and meet people. I really like the format of the event, with the joint public presentation, and then the individual meetings. I was fortunate to have a full schedule of one-on-one meetings, and they were very useful. In terms of who I met, I found potential partners for co-production in countries that I hadn’t previously considered. I met sales agents who are developing new, more filmmaker-friendly models of distribution, and festival representatives with whom I discussed festival strategy and audiences for this film. So, all in all, it was great!”

Eero Talvistu – Producer, Kinoport Film, ESTONIA (Project: See You in Chechnya – HBO Europe Award – Last Stop Trieste)
“I am super-satisfied with this co-production forum. As a calm Nordic Estonian, this kind of reply is not normal! The organisers were friendly, the venues were very good, and the city was wonderful. It might be better to show the whole rough cut rather than part of it, but I think that could be the case next year, because Rada Sesic knows what is best for the films! We are also very thankful for the prize. WEMW is a very good place to meet new people and to hang out with old friends. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and you can talk to anybody.” 

Rasa Miškinytė – Producer, Era Film, LITHUANIA (Project: Exemplary Behaviour)
“The WEMW forum has a very pleasant and cosy atmosphere, it’s on a human scale, and it features an interesting selection of projects. We garnered so much interest in our own project and will keep on going with this complicated and complex work.”

Rok Sečen – Producer, Monoo, SLOVENIA (Project: History of Love – selected for TRL Espresso)
“It is not just hospitality, as such, that Alessandro Groppiero and his crew showed in a few days, but, rather, an immense energy. Everything they do is intended to help the participants prepare and carry out their presentation at the highest level. Importance of the event for the region is great and it’s still growing. They drive home the fact that you can meet ‘decision makers’, and this is actually true in the broadest meaning of the word. It’s one thing to meet a co-production partner, for instance, and quite another to pitch your project to the executive representative of his film fund, so once your co-producer has to apply with your project, the people who decide whether or not it will be supported will already know you and your project. There are also a number of other markets and programmes like EAVE or Film London - Production Finance Market that can get in touch with future participants. So, in that sense you can make your application to participate one of the last steps you make to get in, rather than your first one. I was surprised, even, by how early some big festivals start to track new projects in order to build up their film database. This means they have a pretty good overview of what will be made over the next few years. The biggest award such an event provides is the access you are given to so many people. 

“I think the importance of WEMW will only grow with the new Re-Act regional fund that was established between Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. WEMW is a must-attend event for producers from both this and broader regions. Regarding the number of French and German participants, I think that anyone who is looking to work with this region should really look to pick up and get involved in this market. Depending on the guest country, it can also be a great opportunity to gain an insight into what is being prepared in other parts of the world. Last but not least, the new TRL Espresso initiative that WEMW established with Film London and NCN Rome is a good sign that Trieste isn't simply part of one country, but is now a meeting point for many.”

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