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REPORT: Eurasia Spotlight 2016

by Laura Nanchino

pitching-kazakhstan

On 25 September, Eurasia Spotlight, the business platform of the Eurasia International Film Festival, organised a pitching competition for Kazakh short and feature films in development.

Of the 80 submissions, 10 projects were selected to compete for three awards: the Best Pitch Award, worth 2 million Kazakhstani tenge (approximately €5,595) in post-production services, the Special Prize, a script consultancy and script translation, and the prize for the Best Short Pitch, participation in the Cinema Dance Workshop at the FAMU University in Prague.

The event’s jury was composed of Italian screenwriter and film trainer Giovanni Battista Robbiano, German film critic Birgit Beumers, German journalist Julia Boxler, Russian producer Oleg Berezin, Olga Lamontanara, the head of communications at the Torino Film Lab, French documentary producer and director Samuel Aubin, Silvia Finazzi, representative of Italy’s Ministry of Culture, and Laura Nanchino from Cineuropa.

"This is the fifth year of Eurasia Spotlight, and we have received a record number of applications, most of which are quite high-quality, real-life dramas suitable for international co-production. It was not an easy choice to make for our international jury. About 70% of projects submitted this year were from female directors," Ana Katchko, the director of Eurasia Spotlight, said.

Among the previous winners of the pitching competition is Emir Baigazin’s Harmony Lessons (2011).

Winners - 2016 

Katerina Suvorova’s About Life of Planets
(Award: Best Pitch)
About Life of Planets is a feature documentary project that takes a look at amateur astronomers who are trying to revive an abandoned observatory high in the mountains outside the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan. It will be the director’s second feature documentary, following Sea Tomorrow, which premiered this summer at the Locarno Film Festival. With one French producer (Rhizome Productions) already in place, the director is looking for other partners and hopes to complete About Life of Planets in 2018.

Veniamin Ilyasov’s English for Beginners
(Award: Special Prize)
English for Beginners is a feature fiction project about growing up and the manifestations of true love. It follows 16-year-old Marat, Dina, his English teacher, and Sasha, Marat’s younger brother. As Marat and Dina fall in love, Sasha feels that irreparable damage could occur. This coming-of-age film will take a deep look into the theme of tolerance.

Ayan Naizabekov’s A Walk in Silence
(Award: Best Short Pitch)
A Walk in Silence is a short film project that takes place on the Kazakh steppe, in a lonely country house, located in the middle of nowhere, 12 miles away from everything. A deaf old man and his grandchild live there, where there is no road close by, nor any electricity or means of communication. When the water in the well dries up, causing the child to suffer from an insatiable thirst, the grandfather decides to take the child to the nearest village. The young director-writer plans to shoot the short film in western Kazakhstan.

Other pitched projects - 2016

Dias Kulmakov’s Three Poplars
Three Poplars is a feature film project about the embodiment of three generations, three characters, three destinies, shown through the eyes of a child. The purpose of this drama is to reveal the unchanging and global issue of “fathers and sons”. The story itself is about a family that suffers unbearable circumstances.

Gaziza Malayeva’s Dawn
In Dawn, a short film project, former female classmates meet on their way home from prom. The character and attitude of each of them is revealed over the course of a candid conversation. After this one brief meeting, they learn more about each other than they ever did in all their years of training together, but their ways of life will now probably diverge forever, as each one has to follow her own destiny.

Aziz Zairov’s The Girl and the Sea
The Girl and the Sea is a feature film project based on real-life events of Dinara Sharipova from the Disabled Children Parents Association, who will actually play herself. Dinara can only move in a wheelchair. Her hands do not work and she has learnt to do everything with her legs. She builds a career and lives life to the fullest, but her greatest dream is to find a lover, and give birth to a child. The audience will see the life of disabled people from inside, observing their everyday struggle for the right to be equal members of society begin to understand them better and start to believe in their owns strengths and Limitless Possibilities.

Nariman Turebayev’s City Filth
“What would your reaction be if someone started killing rapists, paedophiles, corrupt officials, murderers and such, without holding any trials?” Nariman Turebayev’s fifth feature film, City Filth, will look to answer that very question by following Marat’s decision to take the justice into his own hands.

Saltanat Murzalinova-Yakovleva’s Lines of Obstruction
Lines of Obstruction is a film about a family, the youngest child of which is autistic, and the oldest one is healthy, but ashamed of his little brother with special needs. As his parents try to “cure” his autism, the society they live in demonstrates its unwillingness to accept a family with a special needs child. The aim of the director’s second film is that children watch it and change their ideas about any brothers or sisters they may have suffering from a disability or disease.

Elmira Karmanova’s Happy Soul
Happy Soul is a short story about an 11-year-old multiracial boy, named Bakhytzhan, who lives with his mother. He tries to win his school talent contest to impress her, but the cup goes to his classmate Alen. Bakhytzhan steals the Cup, but, when he brings it home to show his mother, she tells him that he will have to leave to live in a boarding school… The short film, to be shot in Almaty, focuses on the fact that motherly love is a basis for personal and societal stability.

Eldar Shibanov’s Notary from Varanasi
Notary from Varanasi is a feature film project about 60-year-old former cashier Uncle Bakha, who lives in Kazakhstan, and receives an e-mail from a notary from India, which refers to a large inheritance. He goes to Varanasi, where he meets a swindler named Bob. Over the course of many adventures, Uncle Bakha and Bob become friends. 

For more information, please contact Anna Katchko: akatchko@gmail.com.

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