The Locarno Pro team sums up this year’s edition
by Vassilis Economou
- Project managers of each section of Locarno Pro, the industry side of the Locarno Film Festival, gave us their verdict on the 2019 edition
During Locarno Pro (8-13 August), Cineuropa had a chance to follow all of the upcoming important events related to the industry section of the Locarno Film Festival (7-17 August). We caught up with the head of Locarno Pro, Nadia Dresti, and all of the project managers of each section to put together a quick overview of this year’s edition.
Starting with Nadia Dresti, she stated: “More than 1,000 professionals attended Locarno Pro this year, confirming yet again that these days remain an easy and informal network hub, merging high-profile executives with junior professionals. Locarno Pro is composed of different projects that were thought, developed and managed together with five professionals who managed to compose an organic workflow, with the final purpose being to endorse independent cinema.”
Sophie Bourdon, deputy head of Locarno Pro and head of Open Doors, mentioned: “The 17th edition of Open Doors has highlighted close to 50 talents from South-East Asia and Mongolia, from first-time directors to established filmmakers, such as Anocha Suwichakornpong, as well as proactive producers in the region such as Cattleya Paosrijaroen (Thailand), Nandita Solomon (Malaysia) and Ifa Isfansyah (Indonesia). Their busy meeting schedules at both the co-production platform (the Hub) and the Producers’ Lab, along with the full houses for the daily Open Doors screenings, have proven the strong interest and appetite from both professionals and the audience for the filmography of this region in all its diversity.
“Showcasing those nine countries (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Mongolia) altogether has resulted not only in developing new connections between Asian professionals and international key decision players, but also in fostering collaboration opportunities within the region, including Mongolia. We are pleased to see that the South-East Asian and Mongolian new wave is becoming a more united, collaborative and stronger independent film community, which will keep on surprising the rest of the world these coming years, and no later than in Locarno 2020!”
For his part, Markus Duffner, project manager for First Look and Match Me!, added: “The fifth edition of Match Me! 2019 provided its participants from Brazil, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Singapore and Spain with an informal networking platform, thanks to a consolidated partnership with the respective national film institutes. This year’s participants were 25 enthusiastic upcoming producers who, through professional lunches, one-to-one meetings (around 500 in total), workshops and panels, introduced their companies and upcoming projects to potential co-producers, funds, sales companies and festival programmers attending Locarno Pro.”
Regarding First Look, which this year focused on Serbian cinema, Duffner continued: “The ninth edition of First Look – Locarno Pro’s Works in Progress showcase – presented six new films, thanks to a partnership with the Film Center Serbia. This year’s selection illustrates the diversity of cinematic approaches within the contemporary Serbian landscape, with a strong line-up of female directors (four out of six). Each work in progress was introduced by its producer to various world sales agents and festival programmers attending Locarno Pro.”
Thibaut Bracq, project manager of Alliance for Development, pitched in his experience of this year: “The fifth edition of Alliance for Development’s co-development platform selected seven projects in development from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France. The participants had the opportunity to pitch their projects in front of professionals such as newly appointed director Mathieu Fournet from the CNC (France) and Roberto Olla, with an extended strong partnership with Eurimages. In addition to the usual co-production panels and meetings with producers and industry key players, this year’s edition had a special focus on sales agents, including Gabor Greiner (Films Boutique, Germany), Jonas Benhaiem (Charades, France) and Thorsten Ritter (Beta Cinema, Germany), who shared with honesty and frankness what they were expecting from producers and directors. About 40 companies (producers, sales, distribution firms, TV sales, funds...) attended the co-production event.”
Furthermore, Marcello Paolillo discussed the StepIn initiative, of which he is the project manager: “The 2019 edition of StepIn tackled some of the fears that are haunting the film industry, the preeminent one being whether independent cinema will still be relevant in the future, both as an art form and as entertainment. The key words that came out of the opening keynote, held by marketing and distribution executive Bob Berney, independent producer Rita Dagher and CAA agent Maren Olson, and out of the four thematic round-tables that followed, were agility and collaboration: we are going through a period of massive changes, which requires flexibility and much more dialogue and communication between the different branches of the industry.”
Paolillo, who is also the project manager of the new U30 programme, added: “The special programme U30 gave a voice to a new generation of film professionals coming from all over the world (from Latin America to China, from India to South Africa, and from Europe to North America). In five dedicated sessions shaped as open think-tanks, distributors, sales agents, theatres and festival programmers and producers, all under 30 years old, discussed theatrical distribution, film marketing, and the role of streaming platforms, film festivals and film markets, and got to share ideas and strategies on how to involve the audience of the future. It was a lively and mind-opening discussion, both for the young participants and for the established executives who took part as tutors and special guests.”
Finally, Marion Klotz, Industry Academy International project manager, wrapped this year’s coverage of the professional section of Locarno: “The sixth edition of the Industry Academy ran from 7-13 August, in the frame of the Locarno Academy (filmmakers, critics). This year, ten young professionals from France, the UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Germany and the Netherlands were given the opportunity to meet and exchange with high-profile international key players during 14 sessions. During group works, informal discussions and plenary sessions, we tackled many of the major challenges facing today’s industry, from the perspectives of sales, exhibition, distribution, programming and curation. Participants were also given the chance to be part of many networking events and activities of Locarno Pro.”
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