Hugo Rosák • Head of industry, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
“Discovering new projects is a passion for our entire team”
- Head of industry at KVIFF Hugo Rosák talks to us about the First Cut Lab, Eastern Promises and scouting new projects
Cineuropa caught up with Hugo Rosák, head of industry (30 June-2 July) at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, to talk about the latest developments in the festival’s industry department, which organises Work in Progress, Docs in Progress (see the news), the Eurimages Lab Project Award, the First Cut Lab (see the news) and Works in Development – Feature Launch (see the news).
Cineuropa: What are the newest features in, and tweaks to, the industry programme after last year’s larger-scale overhaul? What events and initiatives will there be for professionals?
Hugo Rosák: I am not so fond of overhauls when things are working, and I hope we have found the right balance between KVIFF Eastern Promises presentations and some additional programmes. Truth be told, we have slimmed the programme down a little because during the three days that people have here, we also want to give them some time for informal networking, and a chance to catch some films or to catch up with friends. So my personal goal for this year’s industry section was “brevity”, but we want to go deeper so that we can help film projects from our region to access the market more effectively. One new addition is the collaboration with First Cut Lab, where we help projects at the rough-cut stage to get the necessary feedback.
As you mentioned, the latest addition is First Cut Lab. Why was there a need for such an initiative?
We believe that it takes a certain degree of last-minute precision to launch a film, and responsible filmmakers and producers know this as well. As a festival, we also want to help by offering some concrete tools to strengthen this launch process and add an element of curation to it by selecting strong projects that would really benefit from it. The rough-cut stage is really the most vulnerable, and yet the most important, moment, when you can take a filmmaker’s hand, lead them out of the chaos of the editing phase and give them some feedback, or offer a different point of view. You can help them to make sure that the international industry will understand their film the way they meant it to be understood in the first place.
What would the ideal characteristics of a Works in Progress project be to enable it to be eligible for the KVIFF main competition?
For us, it is ideal when we see that the films get discovered and set off down a path that sends them further out into the world. It’s all about that “promise” that we scout out, and then later see it get delivered – even if that happens at another festival. I am so pleased to think of KVIFF Eastern Promises as a launch pad. Discovering these projects is a passion for our entire team. It is a bit like finding a new friend – you meet him, you get along, you want to introduce him to your other friends, and then you really wish him well as he meets more and more great people. Monsters. [+see also:
interview: Marius Olteanu
film profile], Let There Be Light [+see also:
interview: Marko Škop
film profile] and Oleg [+see also:
interview: Juris Kursietis
film profile] are our friends, and so are all the other projects in our selection.
The KVIFF has extended its territorial scope to include the Middle Eastern countries, and this applies to the industry programme as well. Could you sum up the results from last year?
It’s all new, still, so a summary would be premature. Exploring this new territory requires patience. A Middle Eastern project won the main WiP prize last year, but there is not a single project from the region in this year’s WiP selection. We see some great candidates from the documentary sphere, but fewer submissions come along in terms of fiction features, and this year was very typical in that sense. So we will be patient because there is some amazing talent in that region.
Thanks to digitalisation, film festivals are coming up with new distribution models and channels. Is KVIFF also eyeing a similar move or platform?
We have had our KVIFF distribution label for some years now. The goal is to bring to the theatres films that the KVIFF believes people should see on the big screen, even if we pick them all throughout the year. We collaborate with local distributor Aerofilms, their VoD platform and also Czech Television, which helps to bring these films to the small screen.
Last year, when discussing domestic and regional projects, you noted that the KVIFF would have to react to the presence of SVoD players in the changing industry landscape. How did that initiative pan out?
We are inviting them to join us as buyers, and they are coming. Nevertheless, we also try to discuss whether – and how – their supposed monopoly can be sustainable.
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