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REPORT: CentEast Warsaw-Moscow 2016

by Tina Poglajen

(Pictures © Rafal Nowak / WFF)

The Warsaw Film Festival’s CentEast Market, which took place from 14-16 October, included the CentEast Warsaw-Moscow presentations, an event featuring 13 Eastern European works-in-progress, held in Warsaw’s Kinoteka on 14 October and then repeated in Moscow a few days later.

Maria Sadowska’s The Art of Loving (Poland)
Produced by Watchout Productions, the film is based on the life of Michalina Wisłocka, who, in the 1970s, wrote a book on women’s sexuality, enraging both the Communist Party and the Church. Besides its humour, the film is “an epic story, in which you can see the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in Poland,” said Sadowska. The film is set to premiere in January and the rough cut will be available within a month. The project is currently looking for interest from sales agents and festivals. 

Olga Korotkaya’s Sing (Poland/Russia)
Another film about freedom and breaking the tradition, Sing is set in an autonomous region between Russia and Mongolia. The protagonist is a woman who wants to learn the art of throat singing, a traditionally male technique. Produced by Arkana Studio, the film is looking for co-producers, sales agents and festival interest.

Marysia Nikitiuka’s When the Trees Fall (Ukraine/Poland/France)
Produced by Message Film, this title is a magical-realist coming-of-age story about a girl watching her teenage cousin’s unfortunate romance, and her ultimate fate of being forced to marry someone else. The first cut will be available in mid-December, with the film expected to be finished by April 2017. It is currently seeking co-producers and sales agents. 

Inara Kolmane’s Bille (Latvia/Poland/Lithuania/Czech Republic)
This Pippi Longstocking-esque story looks at the life of an extraordinary and slightly lonely girl in the 1930s, before the Second World War. An adaptation of Vizma Belševica’s novel that has been translated into several languages, the film’s premiere is set to coincide with the anniversary of Latvian independence. The rough cut of the film, which is currently looking for post-production partners and sales agents, is expected to be ready in the spring of 2017.

Max Ksjonda’s The Bobot (Ukraine)
A 12-year-old boy from an Eastern European country must prevent an ecological catastrophe in this sci-fi/fantasy family film, which relies heavily on stunt work and special effects. Produced by Mental dRive studio, the movie was shot in Ukraine and is now looking for international partners to make foreign-language dubs of the film. The rough cut will be available by December.

Serge Ioan Celebidachi’s Octave (Romania/UK)
Another fantasy/sci-fi story, this time from Romania, that tells the story of an 80-year-old who travels through time and into his past, all the while retaining the appearance of an elderly man. According to the producer, Adela Vrinceanu-Celebidachi, the film aims to show “the beautiful side of Romania”. It is expected to be ready in a month and is currently looking for festival interest. 

Zaza Urushadze’s Monk (Georgia/Estonia)
Not without a funny bone, the Tangerines director returns to Warsaw after three years, this time with a story about a Georgian priest who is trying to lure people to church by screening films. Produced by Ivo Felt for Allfilm and Cinema24, the film is currently in the process of editing and is expected to be ready early next year. The project is currently looking for festival interest (sales agent Picture Tree International acquired it during the festival - read the news).

Egle Vertelyte’s Miracle (Lithuania/Bulgaria/Poland)
Produced by Studio Produkcyjne Orka, this comedy-drama is set in the transitional Lithuania of the 1990s. Irena, the owner of a struggling pig farm, is falling for a Donald Trump-like American who pledges to save the farm, but secretly has different plans for it. The film is expected to be finished by the end of November and is looking for sales agents. 

Rouzie Hassanova’s Radiogram (Bulgaria)
Going further into the past, Radiogram is set in Bulgaria, 1971, during the Communist regime. Western media is banned, and a father wants to buy a new radio for his rock and roll-obsessed son. The film, produced by Menclips Ltd, is looking for financial aid for the licensing of the songs used in the film, such as “My Generation”, “Jailhouse Rock” and “Twist and Shout”, post-production services, sales agents and festival interest. 

Peter Bebjak’s The Line (Slovakia/Ukraine)
With Emília Vášáryová cast in the leading female role, The Line is set on the border between the two countries. The film tells the story of a father who also works as the head of an organised human trafficking ring. “What interested us was a story about borders – not only physical ones, but the moral ones, too,” said the producer, Wanda Adamík Hrycová, from Wandal Production. The film is expected to be completed in spring 2017 and is currently looking for festival interest and sales agents. 

Ulyana Osovska and Denis Strashnyi’s Almost 10,000 Voters (Ukraine)
Produced by Docutoloka, this independent documentary tells the story of a social activist who believes in the Maidan Revolution and wants to become the mayor of his hometown. “It wasn’t made for money, but to challenge the changes that are now happening in Ukraine,” Strashnyi said about the film that is now finished, runs between 45-56 minutes and is currently looking for sales agents. 

Daria Korol’s Test-730 (Belarus)
This documentary tries to draw attention to the Belarusian practice of all students with free higher education working in an assigned job for two years after graduation as a way of repaying the government. Apart from the slave-like conditions and negligible pay (€100-150), they are also taken away from friends and family. The final cut of the project, which is currently looking for sales agents, is available now. The film is produced by Nashe Kino Production and Volia Films.

Sergey Kozmin’s Sacred Ground (Russia)
Last but not least, a documentary-comedy about an archbishop who is not very happy with his job of promoting the construction of the cathedral in Moscow, nor one of the organisers of the protests against it. Filming is expected to be finished in six months, when the agreement between the Moscow government and the Church is set to expire. A Blancache productions film, it is looking for co-producers.

CentEast Market coordinator Ola Salwa said she was really pleased with this year’s edition of CentEast Market. “We attracted interesting projects that, in their diversity, resonated well with the industry guests. As far as I know, a few deals are underway.”

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