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IFFR 2023 IFFR Pro

REPORT: IFFR CineMart 2023


- We present details of four intriguing projects that were presented at this year’s co-production market, which ran from 29 January-1 February

REPORT: IFFR CineMart 2023

CineMart has finally returned in a physical format, after two editions that unspooled online owing to the COVID-19 crisis. This year, IFFR Pro’s co-production market ran from 29 January-1 February and showcased a total of 20 independent feature projects. We take a closer look at four of them, introduced at this year’s gathering.

Eyes Closed Jenneke Boeijink (Netherlands)
Penned by Liesbeth Wieggers, and produced by Joram Willink and Maaike Neve for Dutch outfit BIND, the premise of Eyes Closed (budgeted at around €1.8 million) sees Anca, a ten-year-old girl of Eastern European descent wearing little clothing for that time of the year, being “handed over” to Sylvia within the walls of a busy European airport. Amongst the crowd of people, it is almost unnoticeable that this transaction is businesslike and almost silent.

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Elaborating on the core themes of her film, Boeijink explains in her director’s statement: “A recurring theme in my work is guilt. [...] What is the difference between, on one hand, the characters in Eyes Closed, who witness a crime but say nothing or do not intervene, and, on the other hand, the entire Western world that reads about human trafficking and forced prostitution in the newspapers and also does nothing? In other words: when are you guilty?”

Speaking to Cineuropa, Willink added: “Eyes Closed has a fully developed script, and the presentation at CineMart is the kick-off of the financing. We will apply for production funding from the Netherlands Film Fund in the coming months, and will then look for co-production countries. CineMart has been very fruitful, with talks with several top sales agents and interested co-producers. It was also a good reality check: people understood the innovative storytelling and were intrigued by the themes we want to address and how we want narrate them.”

Redoubt by John Skoog

Redoubt John Skoog (Sweden)
Affected by the powerful images in a pamphlet entitled “If the War Comes”, farmhand Karl-Göran Persson (Denis Lavant) begins fortifying his house. Through years of harvesting scrap metal, he transforms it into a fortress meant to protect him and his neighbours when the enemy attacks. This is the synopsis of the project, produced by Plattform Produktion and BCD Film AB, and backed by the Swedish Film Institute, SVT and Film i Skåne, amongst others. The picture’s rights have already been sold to the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and France. “It was a very productive and busy CineMart for us. Not only do you meet possible financiers and co-producers, but the project itself develops over those busy days. We have already started working on applications for funding with one of the co-producers we’ve found. The budget is approximately €2 million,” producer Erik Hemmendorf revealed. Shooting is planned for autumn 2023 and spring 2024. The script has been penned by the helmer himself and Kettil Kasang.

A conceptual image for Consider Vera by Marina Stepanska

Consider Vera Marina Stepanska (Ukraine)
The project, budgeted at around €1 million and staged by Natalia Libet for ESSE Production House, won the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award last week (see the news). Billed as “a film about womanhood set in Ukraine in the 1980s”, it focuses on Nina, a curious six-year-old girl who lives with her mother, Antonina, in a small village on the outskirts of Kyiv. Vera, a wild woman, appears in their small village and changes their lives dramatically. In her director’s statement, Stepanska described her project as being characterised by “a fragmentary narrative. […] It works like our memory does, just a patchwork of big events and small moments which give us the final impression of someone's life only at the end of the story. The focus is on the conventional and marginal things – details, the state of light, fragmentary dialogues with no logical conclusion,” she further explained.

A concept still for 7 PM on a Sunday by Sevgi Eker

7 PM on a Sunday Sevgi Eker (Finland)
This “subtle thriller” sees Laura’s seemingly perfect 15-year-old daughter Ida confessing to have caused her friend’s death. When the police investigation begins to unravel the events that led to the fateful event, a deeply troubling truth about Ida and her group of friends is revealed, while Ida herself is suspected of having callous, unemotional traits, a precursor to psychopathy. The partners attached to the project are distributor Aurora Studios and the Finnish Film Foundation. The feature, budgeted at around €2 million and penned by the helmer herself, is being produced by Helsinki Filmi. Commenting on her experience at the co-production market, producer Tia Ståhlberg said: “We had a great experience, and we are grateful to have had that much interest in the project, which means that its themes resonate globally. We forged multiple new connections and we succeeded in expanding our network – not only with this project, but also with others that are at the development stage within Helsinki Filmi’s slate. We would love to thank CineMart for choosing us and giving us this opportunity.”

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