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LOCARNO 2019 Locarno Pro

REPORT: Alliance for Development, Locarno Pro 2019

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- Seven projects from Switzerland, Italy and Germany attended the Locarno Pro initiative focused on strengthening partnerships between film funds in neighbouring countries

REPORT: Alliance for Development, Locarno Pro 2019
Alliance for Development project pitching (© Locarno Film Festival)

The fifth edition of the Alliance for Development initiative at Locarno Pro has wrapped after three full days (9-11 August). As in previous editions, the platform invited seven projects to test their potential in the film market and encourage long term cooperation between Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland. For the second consecutive year, Thibaut Bracq was the project manager, and the programme was organized in partnership with MiBACT and the FFA, in cooperation with Eurimages and the European Producers Club (EPC), and with the support of the Federal Office of Culture (FOC, Switzerland) and MEDIA Desk Suisse.

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On the first day, participants — made up of the director and at least one of the producers attached to each project — introduced their work to a selected audience of film professionals that included representatives of national film funds, producers, sales agents and Eurimages’ Roberto Olla. The session was followed by a series of consultancy meetings specifically customised to each project.

Alliance’s second day started with the session “Sharing experiences at the development phase”, where independent French-Polish producer Edyta Janczak-Hiriart of Kometa Films, and Italian producer Marta Donzelli of Vivo Film, shared their experiences on working with directors when their films are in development. Furthermore, they shed more light on how their companies work and how the relationship between producer and director is formed. The second part of the day began with a presentation of the PICS program of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (OFC), addressed to minority co-productions held by Matthias Bürcher. This was followed by a panel discussion with international sales agents Thorsten Ritter (Beta Cinema, Germany), Gabor Greiner (Films Boutique, Germany), and Jonas Benhaiem (Charades, France) who, in an insightful and open discussion shared with the audience their experiences and tips on working with films in early stages, the ways they can collaborate with first-time directors, and the common mistakes in a festival strategy. The day wrapped with a specialised session organised by Mathias Noschis (Alphapanda) focused on marketing strategies in a film’s development stages.

The final day started with a plenary session looking at the case study of Duccio Chiarini’s The Guest [+see also:
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, which premiered last year at Locarno’s Piazza Grande and was one of the first projects to participate in Alliance for Development back in 2015. Focusing on the co-production aspect of the film, the panel comprised producers Vincent Wang of House on Fire (France) and Michela Pini of Cinédokké (Switzerland) along with film’s sales agent Delphyne Besse of Urban Distribution (France). They discussed in details all the endeavours of this co-production from their side — and with Tommaso Arrighi (Mood Film, Italy), who did not attend — the challenges of a three-lateral co-production when Switzerland is also involved, and their festival and distribution strategy. In the final presentation, casting director Beatrice Kruger (FBI Casting, Italy) explained the role of her profession. The day ended with another session of one-on-one meetings with potential partners, and the programme ended with a group meeting and an exchange of feedback between the project manager and the participants.

The details of the projects presented during the 2019 Alliance for Development are as follows:

The Fighter (Der Kämpfer) by Juri Steinhart (Let the Old Folks Die) follows a 26-year-old man who lives secluded in the Swiss Alps, when an unexpected meeting with two strangers will slowly transform him into an MMA wrestler. Produced by David Fonjallaz and Louis Mataré of the Bern-based Lomotion and supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture for development, the project is looking for possible German co-producers (Germany/Switzerland).

Love of the World (L’Amour du Monde) by Jenna Hasse, set on the shores of Lake Geneva, follows 17-year-old Margaux, who is forced to spend her holidays with her father. She meets seven-year-old Juliette and a 30-year-old fisherman who will help her escape from her everyday life and lose herself between desire and reality. Produced by Olivier Zobrist (Langfilm) the coming-of-age drama is aiming to shoot in summer 2020 and is looking for film festivals, distribution and world sales agents (Switzerland).

Maoz by Tancredi Campello Della Spina tells the story of the kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann by a group of MOSSAD agents. It chronicles the ten days of captivity that both agents and the prisoner spent in close contact in a safe house in Buenos Aires. Produced by Chiara Campara of the Rome-based Ang Film, in co-production with Flavia Daina Oertwig of Berlin’s Tama Filmproduktion, it will enter production by spring 2021 and the project is looking for minority co-production partners, funds, and international sales (Italy/Germany).

With Spirit and Fire (Mit Geist und Feuer – working title) by Domenico Distilo (Manga Do, Igort and the way of manga) follows 20-year-old Erasmus student Rose who, after losing her love during a terrorist attack in Paris, returns to her home in Berlin, where she discovers that she is pregnant. Experiencing PTSD, she will find comfort in a stranger who shares a similar past. Produced by Kai Ehlers of Germany’s Moon Jar Film in co-production with Marco Lo Curzio of Messina’s SCIARA Srl, the project has secured the FFA/MiBAC Co-production development fund, will start shooting in winter 2020, and is looking for German and French co-producers and broadcasters (Germany/Italy/France).

Music by Angela Schanelec (I Was at Home, but... [+see also:
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) is based on the myth of Oedipus. The story follows Jon, who grows up with his step-parents in Greece and who, at the age of twenty, unwittingly kills his natural father and falls in love with a woman who is in fact his mother. Produced by Kirill Krasovski (faktura film GmbH) in co-production with François D’Artemare (Les Films de L’Après-Midi), the film is in its development stage and has received the development grant from FFA/CNC (Minitraité) with principal photography set for autumn 2020. The project is looking for co-producers, world sales agents, distributors and TV pre-sales (Germany/Greece/France).

RED by Mara Manzolini and Andrea Pellerani is a documentary film about the hidden truth of young ultras and hooligans in a small town in Switzerland and how they try to win their lives back through the passion and discipline of kickboxing. Produced by Gabriella de Gara Bucciarelli of AMKA Films Productions SA, the documentary is supported by RSI Radiotelevisione svizzera, BAK Bundesamt für Kultur, and Filmplus della svizzera italiana, and the project is looking for co-producers and partners (Switzerland/Italy).

Thirteen Thursdays (Tredici Giovedì) by Berardo Carboni (Youtopia [+see also:
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) tells the love story between German-Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin and Latvian actress Asja Lacis in the summer of 1924 and the time they spent on the island of Capri. Produced by Aurora Alma Bartiromo (Piroetta srl), the project aims to start shooting in the second half of 2020, and is looking for German co-producers and international sales (Italy/Germany/France/Latvia).

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