Sonja Heinen • Head of the Berlinale Co-Production Market
"It is of great importance that we can really help to bring the people together"
Sonja began her career at the Filmstiftung North Rhine-Westphalia, in which she started from the set up in 1991. She was the assistant of Dieter Kosslick, the executive director, notably in charge of international relations. In 2001, she joined Gemini Film in Cologne as a producer "to know more about 'the other side' of the film business". In 2003, Dieter Kosslick was heading the Berlin International Film Festival for two years already and the idea Sonja and him had often discussed was going to become real: a Co-Production Market that would bring people together in order to help independent arthouse projects on their way to realisation. For 3 years now she's been heading the Berlinale Co-Production Market and also the Manager of the World Cinema Fund.
The Co-Production Market of the Berlin Film Festival has just opened its new call for project submissions: anything new next year?
Yes, we have just opened the call for project submissions and we have already received many. The deadline for submissions is November 3rd, 2005, and we hope to receive as many projects suitable for international co-productions as possible in order for us to be able to present the "best of the best" in our selection. The submission criteria and form are available on our website.
And of course, something will be new next year. Basically the Berlinale Co-Production Market will take place on February 12-13, 2006. But we will add up one half day (Feb 14) just for the producers. We are more than happy that many financiers, sales agents, distributors, broadcasters and funding institutions have been attending the Co-Production Market. However, we felt that we would also want to dedicate half a day just for the producers among themselves. We want to create some additional opportunities for them to meet - whether to discuss a special project, to make new contacts in a more informal way or to hear practical and exciting news about new trends and possible co-operations with areas they might not have been involved with before - for example regarding literature adaptations and video games.
What were the results of the 2005 edition?
We are more than happy that from the selected projects in 2004 and 2005 already 12 projects have been made in the meantime. Four out of these 12 were from the 2005-selection :
The Great Match by Gerardo Olivares, Spain; A Perfect Day by Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas, Lebanon - which was in Locarno-Competition this year and won the Fipresci-Award; Barca by Tariq Teguia, Algeria; and The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar by Kasper Barfoed, Denmark – is currently shooting and opening in Denmark with 100 prints in February 2006!
The "Talent Project Market" - our collaboration with the Berlinale Talent Campus - worked excellently. It is a unique opportunity for the industry professionals to discover fresh talent as well as for the young, up-and-coming film makers to establish contacts to experienced potential partners and through this to receive feedback about their projects.
And the new special section "World Cinema Market" presented world cinema projects. Herewith, we wanted to offer the participants of the Berlinale Co-Production Market the possibility to extend their fields of activity and to get in touch with producers and film makers from these special regions, to exchange ideas and discuss ways of collaborating. This is a collaboration with the World Cinema Fund, a new film fund for films from transforming countries, integrated in the Berlin International Film Festival for exactly one year now.
What do you expect from this new Co-Production Market?
First of all, we hope that we can manage again to do a great project selection, because this is the real heart of the Berlinale Co-Production Market. For us, it is of great importance that we can really help to bring the people together. Therefore, we concentrate already in our project selection on the possibilities for each single project to find the right partners in our Co-Production Market. We try to be informed about each projects' status as well as possible, because in this way, we can better assist the producers in establishing the right contacts for their projects.
Last year, we pre-scheduled more than 800 individual meetings for producers and financiers during "our" two days and many more meetings were set up spontaneously on the spot. 350 producers, sales agents, distributors, broadcasters, film funders attended in 2005. And we would like to keep this size in order to keep the atmosphere as concentrated and relaxed as possible.
And we are planning again a programme as a framework for the Berlinale Co-Production Market: Exciting case studies on current films or actual film financing topics and very effective small workshops.
We want to be both: a solid home and a place to discover new trends and developments for the international production scene.
How is the Co-Production Market involved in the consequent development of the whole European Film Market of the Berlinale?
The European Film Market’s importance in the worldwide market network will further increase in the future because as of 2006 it will be the only international film market worldwide to take place in the first part of the year. Given this, the importance of the Berlinale Co-Production Market also increases; it is so to speak the „interactive tool of the European Film Market" under whose umbrella it takes place since 2005.
The amount of requests by international buyers and sellers for booths at the EFM is still rising constantly. With this, of course the clientele for the Berlinale Co-Production Market also grows: There will be more buyers than ever attending the Berlin International Film Festival – a further positive potential for contacts for the selected projects of the Berlinale Co-Production Market.
The EFM responded to its development already in 2005 and introduced its new location – the Martin-Gropius-Bau – where the EFM will take place for the first time in 2006. The Martin-Gropius-Bau is situated vis-à-vis the Berlin House of Representatives where the Berlinale Co-Production Market takes place. So it will only be a few steps from the European Film Market to the Berlinale Co-Production Market. As of 2006, financiers and producers can without problems take part in both festival events almost simultaneously.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.