At Sarajevo, three national film fund reps discuss the current co-production landscape
by David Katz
- Executives from the BFI, the Italian Ministry of Culture, and Turkey’s TRT were on call to discuss international collaboration
As the talk’s moderator Hayet Benkara rightly began by saying, “OK, co-productions - they’ve been going on for a while, nothing new there.” But the New Co-Production Powerhouses panel at Sarajevo’s CineLink Industry Days proved there was still much to discuss on this topic, and allowed the panellists and audience to share their experiences of various industry shifts, both positive and negative, over the last several years. After presentations on procedure and recent data from all the participants, the hour-long talk became a lively exchange covering cultural identity, modes of collaboration and the sometimes bureaucratic and slow nature of getting financing together.
Chaired by Benkara, a film industry consultant and former Toronto International Film Festival industry head, the panel was composed of Iole Maria Giannattasio, from the Directorate General for Cinema, Italian Ministry of Culture; Neil Peplow, head of Industry and International at the BFI; and Faruk Güven, Head of TRT Sinema, the film arm of the Turkish national broadcaster.
The talk began with each panellist conveying the healthy amount of co-producing financing available in their funds, to assist international and domestic productions. Giannattasio revealed that her pot consisted of €750m for the current year, making it “one of the biggest film funds in Europe, with its budget growing year after year”. Peplow emphasised a sense of continuity after the Brexit process, with its pilot year of the UK Global Screen Fund set up to help UK producers do business abroad. Güven pointed to the recent success of Klondike [+see also:
interview: Maryna Er Gorbach
film profile] (a competition title at Sarajevo this year), this year’s Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness [+see also:
interview: Ruben Östlund
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile], and Quo Vadis, Aida? [+see also:
interview: Jasmila Žbanić
film profile], as well as setting out the terms for Turkish projects to gain further international funding.
On the topic of curation and selection, airtime was given to the influence of streaming platforms and the precedents for which particular nations make good co-production partners. Peplow starkly set out the disproportionate presence of the streamers within the UK industry, and its dominance compared to UK independent filmmaking. For Peplow, this also has consequences for the end product, and the subtle ways in which what we watch influences us. He cited the example of Netflix’s teen show Sex Education - “It looks like something set in America, that somehow landed up in Wales.” He expanded on this observation to point out that the BFI’s mandate is to represent how the UK is today, and how that also chimes with market value, pointing to the unlikely success of the Cornish fishing village drama Bait [+see also:
interview: Mark Jenkin
film profile]. Giannattasio echoed this, stating that “we need to protect ownership of IP for our producers. And we need a pluralism of voices, not only derived from one very strong commissioner. We need to support projects that might not be made.”
The turnaround and efficiency of the funding process came up once the talk was opened up to questions. A comment from a French producer in the audience raised concern about the lag between a project being accepted, and the ability to move swiftly into principal production. Yet all three main panellists clarified that the process can be swift, with Güven saying “in one month we can make the agreement, then there’s a system of payment.” Both Peplow and Giannattasio echoed a wait time of around three months to hear the results once their bi-yearly calls for pitches close, with the former admitting, “We copied a lot of what Italy did.”
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.