No More Free Lunches For Eastern Europeans

European Film Market participants from Eastern Europe and the USSR are starting to get equal treatment at the cinema swap-shop instead of a free lunch.

According to market topper Beki Probst, the fest will no longer pick up the tab for five state representatives from each Eastern European country to attend the market. Invites are now sent directly to film and tv companies, inviting one film buyer, one seller and one tv buyer at the fest’s expense. Anyone else from Eastern Europe who wants to participate in the market but is not a guest of the festival can now be accredited through the German Export Union.

Fest director Moritz de Hadeln hails the change as beneficial for the businesslike atmosphere of the Berlinale. “No more huge delegations from Socialist countries,” he says with relief. “We don’t need civil servants coming to Berlin at the festival’s expense.”

Probst says that East Euro participants in the market seem undaunted by the prospect of footing the bill in hard currency for a trip to Berlin. “They’re still coming, arranging to stay in East Berlin or privately if money is a problem.”

Berlin provides the most accessible film market for formerly Socialist countries. Berlin is one of the lowest-cost markets around – precisely, says Probst, to encourage participation from the “smaller fish.”

It’s the easiest way for Eastern buyers and sellers to enter the international marketplace. The European Film Market is easier to reach from East Europe than Cannes, Mifed or AFM, and Berlin has always played a role in East-West relations.

Hungary is going to have the strongest presence of the Eastern Europeans this year, with four separate stands. The Hungarians are getting good festival exposure with two films in the Panorama sidebar, P. Vajda’s “Here Is The Liberty” and “God Walks Backwards” by Miklos Jancso.

Cinemagyar’s managing director Judit Sugar and sales executive Klara Pasternak say they have a list of Hungarian features for sale, mainly recent productions including “Here Is The Liberty.” MTV (Hungarian Television Enterprises) is sending Eva Racz, head of program acquisition and import, and Agnes Sarvani to the market to shop for “dramas depicting social problems and features offering high-level entertainment.”

Ursula Szluha will be buying for the new Hungarian distrib Panorama; Gerry Rappoport of New York distrib IFEX has a stake in Panorama, along with Magyar distribbery Mokep.

Hungarofilm will be repped by buyer Istvan Varadi and Katalin Vajda, who is responsible for festivals and publicity. The duo are looking for “quality films appealing to a wide audience,” says Vajda. The company is currently distributing “Cinema Paradiso,” “Blue Velvet” and “My Left Foot.”

Czeching it out

Czechoslovakia Filmexport is sending a large team from Prague. Spokeswoman Marta Kornerova says six company reps are making the trip to Berlin, including topper Jiri Janousek, sales executive Jitka Slavikova and import exec Irena Michlickova. The company is looking for features, especially from European producers.

Kornerova says good comedies are in especially high demand. Filmexport has features and shorts for sale, including eight features subtitled in English. One of them, Jiri Svoboda’s “Family Matters,” will be shown in the Panorama section of the festival. The pic is about the political persecutions in Czechoslovakia 40 years ago, when people were named enemies of the state.

Also, “Prague Selection” is about a Czech rock musician who is now a member of Parliament; “Smoke” is described as a “postmodern black slapstick comedy” by young director Tomas Vorel. “Silent Pain” is about an orphaned boy and his grandfather during the totalitarian regime.

Lucerna Film, the new distribution company headed by Jan Jira, will share a stand with Filmexport; Lucerna plans to shop for film and vid rights to Western-produced pics. Jira also says comedies are at the top of his list, in addition to films that were forbidden in his country in the past, like horror pics. Directors of Lucerna’s three vid groups will also be at the market: Milica Pechankova, Svatava Peschkova and Alois Humplik.

Czech TV’s Telexport division will be looking for programming, with an emphasis on primetime fare. Present will be buyers Helena Krovaka, Helena Strapkova, Sonia Ronajova and Ladislav Kadlec.

Bulgaria will have a dual stand this year. Fanny Dimitrova and Rumijana Nenkova will be stumping for Bulgariafilm, looking for buyers for “Silence,” a feature which won the Golden Rose Award at the Bulgarian National Film Festival last October. Firm’s “Love Is A Funny Bird” will be shown in Panorama.

Telerimpex, the foreign trade arm of Bulgarian TV, will share the stand with Bulgariafilm. V.p. Emil Lozev, managing director Plamen Radkovsky, sales exec Maria Pistalova, import chief Nikola Genadiev and cinema-division head Alexander Grozev will be on the lookout for features, series, docus and kids’ fare from the U.S., France, Germany, England and Italy, but will also be scouting Israel, Turkey and Spain this year. The web is selling opera video, docus, animated fare and several features including “The Only Witness,” which picked up three prizes at the Venice fest.

Emphasis on Romania

Romaniafilm is sending delegates to the festival for the second consecutive year. With Panorama’s retrospective of Romanian cinema, representation should be especially strong this year.

Yugoslavia Film will share a stand with Belgrade-based Centar Film. Other Yugos will attend from Viba Film in Ljubljana.

Poland’s Film Polski will be repped at the market by Roman Kicia and Vlodzimierz Lech. Boguslava Janicka will be buying for broadcaster Poltel. At least one Polish pic, Piotr Mikucki’s “Gluchy Telefon,” will unspool in the Forum.

The Russians are coming

As for the USSR, Alexander Fotiev, producer of Alexander Sokurov’s “Der Zweite Kreis,” is being sent to the market by the Soviet Cultural Foundation. Also on hand will be Sovexport’s Berlin chief Vladimir Prilepski.

Sovexport’s sights are set on sales this year. Sovexport has foreign rights to Boris Aristov’s “Satana,” a Lenfilm production set to unreel in competition, plus “The Dog Running Along The Seashore.” Also up for grabs are Lenfilm pic “Der Harmish” and Gorkyfilm’s “He Who Lives In Russia…” and “One Hundred Days Without Command.” A passel of vid titles is also available for sale.

Several Soviet indies will be coming under the aegis of Sovexport, such as a new company called Film Consulting Leningrad, which intends to send four reps. Studio Turkmenfilm will bring “The Son,” and Kazachfilm has “The Woman of the Day.”

Sovexport will be screening in the Cine Center for the first time. The firm previously screened in its own facilities, which tended to discourage attendance.

The move will provide the Russians with much more visibility and flexibility this year. With “Sakat” and Sokurov’s “Krug Vtoroi” (Second Ring) in the Forum sidebar, “Stalin’s Journey To Africa” and “The Children Of Hotel America” in Panorama, and “Satana” in competition, this year’s Berlin could be a key one for the USSR.

For the first time in many years, Poland has no film in competition. The result is that Film Polski will be concentrating on vending two pics screening out of competition in the Forum, Piotr Mikicki’s “Crossed Lines” and “Cutting Forests” by famed documaker Marzel Lozinski.

The company also has an active co-prod wing. “We have several film treatments and are on the lookout for more ideas,” proffers Film Polski director Leon Warecki. Berlin is the first market of the year, and the Poles have their eyes open for pictures to buy for the local market.

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