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Film Nomad's development programme offers a journey of cinematic discovery


Cineuropa is a partner of this intensive film-development project in Mongolia, culminating in an unforgettable pitching session on a train to the Gobi energy centre

Film Nomad's development programme offers a journey of cinematic discovery
A moment during the pitching session

Film Nomad's development programme, a pioneering initiative for Mongolian professionals, embarked on an incredible journey of film and script development in August 2023. This comprehensive online training programme, conceived by Cineuropa, which is aimed at nurturing local talent and enhancing the knowledge of aspiring auteurs, filmmakers and producers, offered a series of workshops and events, led by international experts. Among the programme's highlights, one unforgettable experience stood out – the pitching session on a train ride to the Gobi energy centre. This unique setting provided an extraordinary platform for filmmakers to showcase their ideas and connect with international film-fund professionals. Here we break down the entire process involved.

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Step 1: Online screenwriting workshop and development project, August
The journey began with a three-week online training programme in August, conceived by Cineuropa. There were 221 applications, spanning all film genres. Out of these, 100 participants were selected to take part in the four-week screenwriting programme, led by Alejandro de la Fuente, and an online project-development training session, conducted by Alessandra Pastore. The online training featured guest lecturers such as Julie-Jeanne Régnault, Christine Eloy, Andrea Rocco and Charlotte Appelgren.

Participants honed their screenwriting skills, learned the intricacies of developing compelling stories and engaged in interactive sessions with experts. A pivotal moment occurred on 28 August 2023, when the participants submitted their film synopses and treatments for projects with directors and producers attached.

“It was a journey; it was a beautiful discovery for us, first and foremost,” commented trainer Alessandra Pastore. “With Alejandro, we had the luxury of working with Mongolian professionals and their stories for one month, and to help them shape each project in order for it to be presented to an international audience behind the scenes. Film Nomad's development programme is a huge opportunity for European professionals to discover untold and fresh stories, and at the same time, to meet great talents. The feeling is that this is just the beginning of the Mongolian industry’s development, and we are sure that this is a trend that will be confirmed in the near future.”

Step 2: On-site training with Dianne Taylor, Esther Cahill-Chiaroni and Ulrik Bolt
Following the submission of refined project and script synopses, ten scripts and ten projects were selected for the on-site screenwriting and project development workshop. The on-site screenwriting workshop was led by New Zealand screenwriter Dianne Taylor and Script to Screen executive director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni from 5-8 September.

Prior to the workshop, a screenwriting forum took place on 4 September. The forum featured guest speakers including renowned Mexican director Dana Rotberg and Roseanne Liang, a prominent figure in the New Zealand film industry. The head advisor and guest speaker for the screenwriting workshop was Lynette Wallworth, a two-time Emmy Award-winning director, Crystal Award winner at the World Economic Forum and board member of Sundance.

In parallel with the screenwriting workshop, a project development on-site workshop was conducted by Danish producer Ulrik Bolt from 12-15 September. Additionally, a project development forum for all 100 participants was organised on 11 September, featuring a guest speaker who was an intellectual property and copyright lawyer, and the former director of the Copyright Office of Mongolia.

Step 3: Film Nomad Film Forum
From 25-26 September, the Film Nomad Film Forum provided an invaluable platform for Mongolian professionals to connect with the global film community. Distinguished representatives of international film funds shared insights into eligibility criteria, application processes and funding opportunities. This forum opened doors for Mongolian filmmakers to access global film-industry resources and forge new collaborations.

Contributions included those from Ms Undral, head of the Mongolian National Film Council; Seri Park, general manager, Asian Contents & Film Market; Michel Plazanet, deputy director, International Affairs, Centre National du cinéma et de l'image animée; Bobby Romia, head of Development, Screen Australia; and Elaine McElroy, UK Global Screen Fund.

Step 4: Film Nomad pitching session on the train to Gobi
The climax of Film Nomad's development programme occurred from 28-29 September, with the Film Nomad pitching session on a train ride to the Gobi energy centre. This thrilling opportunity allowed Mongolian producers and auteurs to present their unique ideas and perspectives to international film-fund professionals.

Preparation was key, as participants crafted strong pitches that highlighted their project's uniqueness, story, themes and cultural significance. They discussed budgets, production timelines and the talent involved, all while enjoying the stunning landscapes of Mongolia passing by.

The professionals to whom participants pitched included Valerio Caruso from Cineuropa, Miriam Henze from the World Cinema Fund, producer Rita Walsh, writer-director-producer Andreas Dalsgaard and producer Savannah James-Bayly. This unique setting allowed for meaningful connections to be forged and enabled those involved to potentially secure support for their projects.

In conclusion, Film Nomad's development programme is not just a training initiative, but also a cinematic odyssey that empowers Mongolian filmmakers to thrive on the global stage. With workshops, forums and the unforgettable train ride to Gobi, it offers an unparalleled platform to develop skills, connect with industry experts and showcase the best of Mongolian cinema to the world.

The projects and participants were as follows: Plague, a feature-length social drama written and produced by Udval Dagva; Jagaa & the Driver, a feature-length drama written and directed by Ankhbayar Nyamdavaa, and produced by Nyamdulam Tsedevsuren; The Lost Lamb: A Journey Home, a feature-length children’s drama written and directed by Ganbat Tsedensodnom, and produced by Enkhmandakh Nyamgerel; Mango Tea, a drama and an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name written by Purevmaa Altantuya, directed by Altantuya Tumurbaatar and produced by A Artist Pictures; In the Shadow Far Far Away, a feature-length drama written and directed by Khoroldorj Choijoovanchig; Searching for Gobi Grandma, a feature-length drama written and directed by Batbayar Sumkhuu; Of Dogs and Doves, a feature-length drama written and directed by Ikhbayar Urchuud; The Crying Party, an experimental narrative short film written and directed by Zulaa Urchuud; Todov, a thriller-drama written and directed by Layla Batchuluun; and The Last, a feature-length drama based on a true story, written and directed by Gan-Ochir Enebish and produced by Mandakh Gantugs.

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