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European Work in Progress Cologne 2023

Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...

REPORT: European Work in Progress Cologne 2023


We take a closer look at some of the buzziest feature-length projects pitched at this year’s German gathering

REPORT: European Work in Progress Cologne 2023
The team behind Transamazonia during a one-on-one meeting (© EWIP)

The sixth edition of European Work in Progress Cologne (EWIP) unspooled from 16-18 October. From among over 180 submissions, 32 film projects were selected to be presented to the industry audience in attendance. In this article, we take a closer look at six of the buzziest ones presented at this year’s gathering.

Aroma DreamMa Xue (China/France)
The drama, produced by the helmer herself for China’s Beijing Drama Picture and by Vincent Wang for France’s House on Fire, and penned by the director, is set in a hospital where a nurse, Yang Fan, finds solace in taking care of her vegetative patient, Xiao Fang, while sharing her deepest secrets and forming an enigmatic connection. Budgeted at €1 million, the creative team is looking for final financing, as well as sales agents, distributors and festivals.

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Strangers in the NightIvona Juka (Croatia/Canada/Cyprus/Bosnia and Herzegovina/Serbia/Poland)
Set in 1950s Yugoslavia and shot in stunning black and white, this new LGBT-focused drama zooms in on four young queer students – Lovro, Nenad, Sttevan and Ivan – who drop out of college to join the Partisans. After the war, they are all established film artists. In 1957, while they are making their latest movie, censors ban a scene depicting the dissatisfaction of the army, and they are offered “rehabilitation” through making propaganda pictures. Co-produced with Canada’s Quiet Revolution Pictures alongside several European partners and budgeted at €2.7 million, the project is seeking sales agents, pre-sales, equity investors, distributors and gap financiers.

Sima’s SongRoya Sadat (Netherlands/Spain/France/Taiwan)
Staged by Spain’s Alba Sotorra, and co-produced by Amsterdam-based BALDR, France’s Urban Factory and Taiwan’s Volos Films, the story unfolds in pre-civil war Afghanistan, as young communist Suraya and conservative, humble Muslim Sima keep their lifelong friendship alive despite their opposing life choices. When they are asked to spy on each other, Sima and Suraya put their friendship first and end up locked up in the same prison. Sadat, the first Afghan woman director to emerge after the first Taliban regime, debuted with A Letter to the President, shortlisted as Afghanistan’s hopeful for the Oscars in 2017. The team is on the lookout for sales agents, distributors, festivals and gap financiers. The drama is budgeted at €2 million, and was lensed by Ton Peters.

FanonJean-Claude Barny (France/Canada/Luxembourg)
Produced by Special Touch Studios (France), Paul Thiltges Distributions (Luxembourg) and Peripheria Productions (Canada), and presented on stage by Sébastien Onomo, the feature centres on Frantz Fanon, who has just been appointed chief medical officer at the psychiatric hospital in Blida, Algeria. Very soon, the innovative and sensitive treatment that he gives his patients incurs the wrath of his colleagues and the director of the clinic. His determination piques the interest of the National Liberation Front leader, Abane Ramdane, who offers him the chance to join his fight. The biopic, budgeted at €4.2 million, is looking for sales agents, financiers, distributors and festivals.

TransamazoniaPia Marais (France/Germany/Switzerland/Brazil/Taiwan)
The project, spearheaded by Germany’s Pandora Film Produktion and France’s Gaijin, and co-produced with Swiss, Brazilian and Taiwanese partners, is Marais’ fourth feature. The premise of the movie, set in the Amazon rainforest, sees missionary Lawrence Byrne running an Evangelical mission and his daughter, Rebecca, proclaimed as a living miracle after she survives a plane crash, eventually finding her way back to civilisation. Thus, Rebecca rises to fame as being a notorious miracle healer, evangelising the indigenous population together with her father. The arrival of illegal loggers, however, forces them to be at the centre of a violent conflict and to confront their own demons. Lensed by Mathieu de Montgrand and budgeted at €3.2 million, the film’s cast includes Helena Zengel, Sabine Timoteo and Jeremy Xido. The team is looking for new pre-sales, festivals and distributors.

WaterdropRobert Budina (Albania/Romania/Italy/Kosovo/North Macedonia)
A co-production between Erafilm (Albania), Avanpost (Romania), Redibis Film (Italy), Iliria Film (Kosovo) and Manufaktura Production (North Macedonia), the writer-director’s latest effort revolves around Aida, a mother who has built up her life and career as part of a corrupt system that involves her husband, Ilir, and the mayor, Elvis. One day, Aida’s son Mark is arrested for the rape of his classmate Bora. In one of the clips screened at the event, Aida visits Bora’s house to convince her mother, Monda, that Elvis’s son Denis is the guilty one, after Mark has protested his innocence. The drama stars Gresa Pallaska, Arben Bajraktaraj, Gerhard Kolaneci, Adem Karaga, Henri Topi and Paolo Iancu, and is budgeted at €900,000. The picture is seeking gap financiers, sales agents, distributors, festivals and broadcasters.

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