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IFFR 2024 IFFR Pro

REPORT: CineMart 2024

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- We present details of five intriguing projects that are currently being presented at this year’s co-production market, which runs from 28-31 January

REPORT: CineMart 2024
Fathoming by Sara Tirelli

This year’s CineMart is unspooling from 28-31 January. IFFR Pro’s co-production market is showcasing a total of 26 projects – broken down into 16 features, four immersive projects and six works in progress. We take a closer look at five of them, introduced at the Rotterdam-based gathering.

FathomingSara Tirelli (Italy)
Produced by Rome-based dispàrte, this project in early development is a “groundbreaking VR experience that immerses the audience in an infinite descent toward an underwater abyss”. The “meditative yet visceral first-person journey expands [one’s] perception beyond the limits of the body by embarking on a poetic quest through the liquid fabric of existence”. In detail, the immersive experience “welcomes us into a digital replica of physical space by means of a real-time MR installation”. In it, “reality unfolds, revealing its digital double, and we exist within it”, and “our body, composed of pixels, becomes a conscious extension of ourselves.

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“A mysterious presence, half-mythical creature, half-spiritual guide, beckons us beyond the illusions, revealing their ephemeral nature. It guides us through the veils of the journey, urging us to transcend the ephemeral nature of the seen. To embark on this voyage, a mere breath becomes the key to crossing the threshold into the unknown,” the project’s synopsis continues.

“We’ve already started the fundraising phase, and we’re looking for international co-producers and studios, with a focus on the Netherlands, France and Germany. We’d like to meet potential partners: funders, distributors and world sales agents. Fathoming isn’t merely an entertainment experience; it’s a journey of self-discovery that can be depicted only by means of immersive technologies. It’s dispàrte’s first VR production, and we’re thrilled to explore this new frontier of audiovisual language,” producer Serena Alfieri tells Cineuropa.

The March by Frieda Gustavs and Leo Erken

The MarchFrieda Gustavs, Leo Erken (Netherlands/Ukraine)
This “non-linear VR-opera experience” includes eight scenes revolving around the culture of war. “It’s not a history or life lesson, but it allows the visitor to make personal discoveries and dig into their own memories and knowledge. With this project, we hope to inspire visitors to investigate their own relationship with war, to reflect and to discuss it with others. VR also aims to bring the experiences and histories of people who are ‘close to war’ to those for whom war is far from their daily lives,” Erken tells us.

“The visual content comes from our homes, where we – consciously or unconsciously – keep the remnants of our history. Our violent history is hidden in the little statues on our bookshelves, tropical plants in our living rooms and many items in the public world around us. In the virtual world, objects, photos and other elements merge into a new visual language as a connecting factor. Guided by several variations of marching music, we wander through the era 1860-2025 with metaphors for winners, losers and victims.”

The project is being produced by Olga Starostina for Amsterdam-based NL12. “With two bursaries granted by the Netherlands Film Fund’s Creative Industries Fund, we were able to develop the pilot version of five scenes. At CineMart, we hope to find financing partners for the next stage of our project as well as organisations that can bring it close to audiences around the world,” adds Erken.

Skarpnabba by Sawandi Groskind

SkarpnabbaSawandi Groskind (Finland)
The feature follows a kind-hearted, middle-aged truck driver and his teenage daughter navigating rural life in 1960s Finland and delivering goods for the local community. While helping an impoverished family, they witness the death of a child. Decades later, the reappearance of the once-deceased child in a hospital in Helsinki brings the past into the present, and sets the stage for an exploration of human life and all its intricate complexities.

The script, penned by Groskind with Kim Eksberg, is loosely based on the diaries of Werner Härmälä, the helmer’s maternal grandfather. Sawandi Groskind and Eksberg also co-directed a fiction feature, XXL, now premiering at Göteborg.

The project is being staged by Danai Anagnostou for Kenno Film, with backing from Föreningen Konstsamfundet and Kehittämö. “Inspired by the legacy of a dream, with Skarpnabba we aim to portray on screen the concept of dreaming and striving for something. Initiating production financing in the spring, after CineMart, we’re currently seeking partners, co-producers and distributors, but not limited to that,” says Anagnostou.

Bad Gays by Loïc Hobi (© Cloud Fog Haze Pictures/Loïc Hobi)

Bad Gays - Loïc Hobi (Switzerland)
The snowy mountain roads of Switzerland play host to a queer spin on the car-chase genre in this feature produced by Cloud Fog Haze Pictures.

“I started working on Bad Gays with a lot of anger about my country and why I left it, but through this film, I have realised that queer liberation comes from transgressive joy. With its brash title, Bad Gays will finally assert and celebrate my identities, both cinematically and personally, on a fun-packed ride. The current discourse tries to make us illegitimate in our country, but national identity is worth nothing more than the make-up of a drag queen; it is drag. You don’t know any gay action hero. Yet,” Hobi says.

“Just like our country, the film is multilingual, a great tool [to use] to confront the characters’ identities. And if a few words are lost on a viewer, it doesn’t matter, because in facing what we don’t understand, we are forced to learn. This ride will be fast-paced, just like we have to live fast to make up for the years when we couldn’t express our feelings. Most action movies revolve around the hero’s desire to have sex with the girl. Dylan is a hypersexual character whose goal throughout the movie is gay sex, whatever the situation he is in, but the way to get to it will always be consensual. Riding in Dylan’s car, Angel Face embarks on a new sexual journey of discovery, which will climax with the film itself.”

CherubBarbara Rupik (Poland)
The synopsis of this brand-new animated feature, now in development, reads as follows: “Cherubs are shape-shifting angelic beings with human heads and birdlike wings. One day, hidden behind storm clouds, they descend upon a small, forgotten village to claim the soul of a dying girl. When it turns out that the girl has not one, but two souls, the rite of passage is interrupted, and one of the cherubs is trapped on Earth. Unable to return to heaven, he has to find himself in this new reality.”

The picture is being produced by Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska and Bogna Szewczyk-Skupień for Warsaw-based Madants, the banner behind high-profile titles such as Claire Denis’s High Life [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Claire Denis
film profile
]
, Agnieszka Holland’s Charlatan [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Agnieszka Holland
film profile
]
and Valdimar Jóhannsson’s Lamb [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Valdimar Jóhannsson
film profile
]
.

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