REPORT: Holland Film Meeting Co-Production Platform 2016
by Vitor Pinto
One of the most important events in Dutch film professionals’ calendar, the Holland Film Meeting (HFM) has hosted the 2016 edition of its Co-Production Platform, bringing together an exciting line-up of international projects in development, along with a catalogue of local titles also in development, set aside in a new section named BoostNL. All projects – a total of 33, including the ones included in the BoostNL section – were eligible for the Co-Production Platform’s prizes: The Cam-a-lot & Filmmore Cinema Emerging Talent Prize for Best Project (valued at €10,000 in camera and post-production facilities) and The WarnierPosta Prize (worth €5,000 in audio post-production facilities at one of the WarnierPosta studios).
Central and Eastern European participants, as well as Balkan titles, had a particularly strong presence this year, with projects from Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Poland grabbing everyone’s attention.
Romania’s Marcian Lazar (Alex Film Echipamente) is currently looking for co-producers for Imaculat. The feature, written by Monica Stan and set to be directed by Brussels-based director Kenneth Mercken, focuses on a young girl who tries to save her boyfriend from drug addiction and ends up caught in the vice herself. Partially set in a rehab clinic, the film is, in the director’s words, a reflection on the influence of group dynamics in the quest for identity. The CNC Romania is already attached to this €850,000 project.
Director Simon Bogojevic Narath and producer Ira Cecic from Croatian outfit Kinorama pitched Illyricvm, a historical drama set in 36 BC, which centres on a young Liburnian shepherd who joins the Roman legionary army passing through his region. Narath, a filmmaker with a background in fine art, is particularly concerned with the film’s historical accuracy yet is willing to imbue the project with a slow pace – which is certainly an intriguing choice, given the potentially violent background against which the plot is set. With the support of the Croatian Audiovisual Center already guaranteed, the project is looking for co-producers and hopes to begin principal photography in autumn 2017.
Producing, writing and directing: Bulgaria’s proactive Maya Vitkova does it all in her new project, Love, in which three stories have mingled and merged into one project that will work both as a feature film and as three separate shorts. €25,000 are already in place for this €1.2 million project already supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center.
The Religion of Night Walks is an ambitious project by Serbian producer Jelena Mitrovic (Film House Baš Čelik), partially based on the family story of scriptwriter and director Nikola Lezaic. The project about an Iranian-based Serbian engineer who gets a visit from his wife and child after a long absence due to professional reasons is at the development stage, looking for partners and shooting locations. Film Center Serbia is already on board.
Polish producer Dariusz Jablonski (Apple Film Productions) is seeking financing for Eva Neymann’s fourth film, The Twins. The “metaphysical thriller” – in the words of the producer – is a story of obsession and murder linking two twin brothers. Shot in Ukrainian, the project is expected to be filmed in autumn 2017.
The Co-Production Platform also hosted two pitching sessions by French producers. Comrade Stalin Saved My Life is an animated project led by Paris-based Blick Productions along with Germany’s Belle Epoque Films and Poland’s Donten & Lacroix Films. Kamila Kubiak and Olivier Patté are attached to co-direct it.
Meanwhile, Louise Bellicaud (of Paris’ Vivo Films) introduced Tangier Stories, to be directed by British director of Moroccan heritage Fyzal Boulifa. The film is a very interesting triptych questioning to what extent relationships are shaped and controlled by the dominance of the Western world in a place that was traditionally a cross between Europe, Africa and the Muslim world.
Sunburned is a German project to be directed by Carolina Hellsgard and produced by Nicole Gerhards (NiKo Film). The loneliness of a young girl in a dysfunctional family on holiday and the difficult living conditions in Africa, which lead to a desire to emigrate, are blended together in this project, which Hellsgard – inspired by Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides – is intending to shoot in a sort of dreamy atmosphere.
Comedy projects always seem to miss the dates of pitching forums, but that was not the case this time around, as this was exactly what Irish directors Rob and Ronan Burke were proposing: a teen comedy exploring male friendship, named Bags and Trev Get Dates for the Debs. John Wallace from Blacksheep Productions is producing the project, which has already been supported by the Irish Film Board and pubcaster RTE.
Producer Kurban Kassam (Adventure Pictures) introduced UK director Sally Potter’s upcoming feature Molly, which focuses on a man apparently suffering from some sort of dementia. On a trip to hospital with his daughter, the ageing man begins to experience parallel (imaginary?) lives in which he is living in different countries, assuming different personalities and doing different jobs. BBC Films and the British Film Institute are already on board the film, which is slated to be shot in autumn 2017, in four countries.
Spanish director José Skaf, whose feature debut, Vulcania, was released last year, attended the HFM to introduce Point Nemo, his upcoming film, to be produced by Pedro Hernández Santos from Aquí y Allí Films. The movie, which centres on an aged couple in crisis, is, according to Skaf, “a character-driven drama, a road movie that we like to present as a thriller”.
The last project selected for the Co-Production Platform was The Whale Hunter, a Rock Films production to be directed by Russia’s Philipp Yuryev. Currently in its second draft, the film was described as a coming-of-age story following a boy’s path towards manhood.
Besides these 12 upcoming features, the HFM also shone a spotlight on 11 other projects in a new section called BoostNL – click here to read about them.