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GOLDEN APRICOT 2024 GAIFF Pro

REPORT: GAIFF Pro Work in Progress @ Golden Apricot 2024

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- We take a closer look at four new projects pitched within the industry sidebar of the Yerevan-based gathering

REPORT: GAIFF Pro Work in Progress @ Golden Apricot 2024
Producer Morgane Ivanoff on stage during the pitch for Mehmet Salih Çelik's Lost Tapes

The GAIFF Pro Industry Platform, the Golden Apricot International Film Festival’s industry sidebar, runs this year from 9-11 July. The initiative is a co-production and educational platform, designed to empower emerging international and Western Asian filmmakers through a comprehensive programme of pitching sessions, workshops and master classes. Cineuropa takes a closer look at four of the five new projects pitched in the Work in Progress section, all of them close to completion and now seeking additional partners from Europe and beyond. Please note that the fifth is a confidential project that was presented to jury members only.

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Between the Rails - Nairi Hakhverdi (Armenia)
This 75-minute documentary feature, now in post-production, sees the helmer witnessing the societal transformations of her country from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war and the subsequent political turmoil, while sitting on her balcony in Yerevan. The approach is observational, with the filmmaker never interacting with the depicted subjects. News excerpts will help “situate the viewers throughout the events”.

The project, budgeted at €69,240 (of which €48,240 are in place) is backed by the National Cinema Center of Armenia and received the CineDoc New Talents Caucasus Post-Production Award. Hakhverdi’s debut feature is being produced by Karlen Muradyan (My Yerevan, Fake Dad) for Kinora. The team is seeking co-producers to cover colour grading and sound design costs in particular, as well as other “post-production platforms”.

The Absent ImageHrant Vardanyan (Armenia)
Produced by the director himself with his assistant producer, Arevik Avanesyan, The Absent Image is “an arthouse road movie following one of the last Mohicans of cinema – namely, renowned filmmaker Artavazd Peleshyan”. During his five-year journey, Vardanyan embarks on a deep dive into the director’s cinematic world, his thoughts and his silences, thus crafting “a movie about Peleshyan, in the style of Peleshyan”.

The picture’s release is slated for November 2024. Confirmed partners include Hayk State Studio and the National Cinema Center of Armenia. The portrait, a black-and-white documentary feature, now only missing a few finishing touches to the score and colour grading, is looking for festival premieres and sales agents. The festival catalogue lists its overall budget as €107,000.

UlyssesRati Oneli (Georgia/Luxembourg)
The plot of this “part thriller, part detective story”, starring both actors and non-professionals, follows two lost souls who accidentally meet, try to reinvent themselves and find a new language in which to communicate. Uli is an ex-convict running away from his past, whilst Margo is a Chinese immigrant, trying to take care of her disabled child in a foreign environment. The drama, penned by Oneli himself with Evgeniia Marchenko, is now in post-production.

During his creative path, Oneli was driven by his upbringing in the Georgian mountains, where customs and ancient rituals were the norm, prompting his personal “sense of wonder”, which remains essential when it comes to exploring a mystical dimension, but also when tackling complex contemporary issues such as migration, alienation, loss of dignity and identity.

Oneli is producing with Archil Gelovani for Georgia’s Ofa. Backers include IFP Independent Film Project, the Georgian National Film Center, Film Fund Luxembourg and Syndicado. The catalogue lists the feature’s overall budget as €683,500.

Lost Tapes - Mehmet Salih Çelik (France/Turkey)
In his debut feature, the helmer follows Mirze, who used to work as a wedding cameraman in Kulp, a Kurdish region of Turkey. He sets out on a road trip, touring around village by village, in search of the wedding tapes he once filmed, in order to reconstruct social memory by restoring the lost tapes. The project was pitched on stage by producer Morgane Ivanoff, who is co-producing it with Ayşe Çetinbaş.

In the director’s notes, Çelik explains how the depicted characters will reveal “how Kurds are resisting so as to preserve their traditions and culture”.

“Mirze restores the images on certain tapes that have deteriorated over time at his friend Nimet’s studio. He gives the digitalised footage to the characters, and the archive becomes the foundation of a memory that is both intimate and collective. The distorted wedding footage serves as a metaphor for the destruction of Kurdish societal memory, revived by its restoration. Through this journey between past and present, Mirze will also find an opportunity to face and heal his own traumas,” the director explains.

The creative doc’s backers include the CNC, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, TV78, PROCIREP-ANGOA, JPL Productions and Surela Film. The catalogue lists its total budget as €109,230.

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