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Producers on the Move 2015 - Serbia

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Snežana Penev

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- For Snežana Penev (This and That Productions), Monument to Michael Jackson was the 15th film she had produced or executive-produced

Snežana Penev

For Snežana Penev (This and That Productions), Monument to Michael Jackson [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Darko Lungulov
film profile
]
was the 15th film she had produced or executive-produced. She is currently in post-production with A Good Wife, the directorial debut by Balkan star Mirjana Karanović, a co-production between Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, co-written by Karanović and Stevan Filipović (Skinning), shot by the Balkans' most prominent DoP, Erol Zubčević, and starring Karanovic, Boris Isaković (Circles [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Nikola Rakocevic
interview: Srdan Golubovic
festival scope
film profile
]
), Bojan Navojec (Just Between Us [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) and Jasna Djuričić (White White World [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
). She is also at the financing stage for up-and-coming Serbian director Rastko Petrović's feature debut, Five Skyscrapers.

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Monument to Michael Jackson was a success on the festival circuit, but it did not sell many tickets at home. It is an audience-friendly film, so why do you think this happened, and how do you see the situation for the distribution of local films in Serbia?
That's right! Monument to Michael Jackson has been very successful at international festivals, and the sales by Films Boutique are going very well. That the film was not exactly a hit in Serbian cinemas (9,000 admissions) hardly surprises me. In a dramatically weakened distribution network, where in fact you can only screen in a few multiplex cinemas in the bigger cities, the film has to compete with Hollywood blockbusters. We are now suffering the consequences of the much-disputed privatisation process, in which 20 cinemas were closed in Belgrade alone. This mainly affected the 30-plus cinema audience, with the result being that the primary target audience for cinema in Serbia today is 13 to 22 years of age. For a tongue-in-cheek dramedy like Monument to Michael Jackson that is not tailored to teenagers, it is not realistic to expect huge commercial success in the home market.

A lot of new films coming out in the former Yugoslavia are co-productions between the countries of that former state. How do you see this development, which has happened over the past ten years and which seems to be growing?
I see co-operation between former Yugoslav republics as a completely natural phenomenon. Monument to Michael Jackson was a co-production with Macedonia and Croatia, and A Good Wife is a co-production with Bosnia and Croatia. These co-productions make complete sense because not only are all the top actors and crew members already active in all the countries, but we're also connected by a common language and history, and are facing common social issues. 

Furthermore, the markets of our countries are small, both in terms of funding and in terms of sales. It is therefore also necessary to work together if we want to achieve even better results in financing, production and distribution. It is the way forward for any industry with the scope to cover a larger market, and cinema is no exception. My view is that the percentage of co-productions in our region should be even higher, and despite reciprocity problems, the different film centres should coordinate their efforts to stimulate this. 

What are your next projects, and what do you expect from Producers on the Move at Cannes?
My next project is Five Skyscrapers. If I had to pitch it in one line: it’s a coming-of-age story about lies, breasts and masturbation.

It will be a smart and refreshing comedy. It's written with an elegant flow, the script is sharp and sassy, and I think it strikes just the right balance between intelligent and entertaining. 

Not only do I believe that this project fits both thematically and stylistically exactly in the profile for European co-productions, but it is also, for me personally, a great challenge. It is the debut project of young director Rastko Petrović, and despite its huge potential, my country can cover only a third of the budget. Therefore, I feel we need additional support and promotion. 

Through promoting myself as an "emerging producer" within the EFP, and with this project as the most promising one from Serbia, I will present it to potential partners and funds in order to complete the financial construction, and at the same time exchange experiences and ideas for troubleshooting.

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