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“Wherever we are present, we should leave our footprints”

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Sonja Heinen • Managing director, European Film Promotion

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- Cineuropa interviewed Sonja Heinen, managing director of European Film Promotion, to discuss the new initiatives of the organisation

Sonja Heinen • Managing director, European Film Promotion

As managing director of European Film Promotion (EFP), Sonja Heinen has taken over the reins from Renate Rose, who founded the organisation 20 years ago. Sonja Heinen has a broad range of experience in the international film industry due to her former work as managing director of the Berlinale Co-Production Market and the World Cinema Fund.

Cineuropa: What goals and challenges do you see for EFP in the future?
Sonja Heinen:
First of all, I want to say that it is a huge task to take over from Renate Rose after her 20 years heading up such a wonderful operating network as EFP, which functions on so many different levels. EFP is already very well established, but it is always a big challenge to reconcile the great cultural diversity and therefore the very different interests involved, in order to draw international attention to the European film industry as a whole.

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Due to my long-term work at the Berlinale Co-Production Market and the World Cinema Fund, I am well prepared. The international experience and various new contacts will be an important basis for my exciting new assignment. It is crucial for EFP to consider the realities of the market when we are presenting European films, and to organise events to promote them. Wherever we are present, we should leave our footprints.

Will EFP launch new projects this year?
Yes, in cooperation with Metrograph Cinema, based in New York, we will launch the brand-new series "New Directions: Documentary Series in New York". At the beginning of May, the Metrograph Cinema will present a selection of ten European documentary features as the New York premiere for industry professionals, press and audiences in the city.

Then, at the Sydney Film Festival, we will present the programme "10 Women Directors to Watch", launched in 2016. The "women” issue is on everyone’s lips and we are delighted that we are among the first to broach this subject. We are bringing ten recent films by female filmmakers, who will present their work personally to the Australian market.

Are there any regions or countries that you would like to open up for European films?
Basically, we are going to follow the market as closely as possible. But of course, that doesn’t mean that we only operate in places where a market is visible. We also need to spot new, upcoming regions and organise events that offer an opportunity to filmmakers and producers to look around and maybe even settle down. At the moment, we are planning an event for producers in partnership with the Caucasus and the Ukraine, which could become an interesting region from the point of view of filmmakers and producers.

Since series are becoming more popular at film festivals, will EFP expand its activities to TV?
Series have become much more important in the last five years than anybody would have assumed. Almost every festival has a section for “drama series”. Of course, that is also of interest to EFP. We carried out a survey last autumn, which showed that this subject has great significance in almost all European countries, although not always the same ones. But in almost every country, series are going to be developed — sometimes with a lot of focus on the education and qualifications of the crew.

However, on a national as well as international level, there is already a fantastic range of events covering series, so we decided not to take any further action in this field. Of course, we are eager to see what influence the fact that drama series are now presented at many big festivals might have, and how that will affect the work of our members when it comes to film promotion.

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