Mid-career directors to pass on experiences

Germany’s oldest film school, the Konrad Wolf Film & Television Academy is planning to establish German-Russian summer masterclass with Moscow’s VGIK film school as part of a new cooperation deal with the Cottbus Festival of Eastern European Cinema.

Based in Berlin, close the country’s Babelsberg studios, the academy had forged a reputation for turning out talent in the post-war era when it was in Communist East Germany.

Top graduates include producer Tom Zickler (“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) and director Andreas Dresen (“Cloud Nine”, “Summer in Berlin”).

The deal, signed by Konrad Wolf’s president Dieter Wiedemann and Cottbus festival managing director Jorg Ackermann on Wednesday, will expand existing links that include the production by academy students of the Cottbus fest trailer.

“There are a range of projects we would like to get off the ground with Konrad Wolf including the German-Russian masterclass that will go ahead this summer under the Cottbus umbrella,” festival director Roland Rust told Variety.

The masterclass will draw upon mid-career directors who have come to prominence in the past 20 years and are now ready to pass on their experience to film school students from the two countries.

The Cottbus Film Festival marks its 19th annual edition in November with programs that will include a special focus on New Cinema from the Black Sea, a retrospective marking the 20th anniversary of the end of Cold War, Times of Change, and a Russian day, presenting highlights of the year from what organizers dub “the most important film land in Eastern Europe.”

The festival, which includes industry sidebar Connecting Cottbus that draws producers from across the region for professional workshops and pitching sessions, has established a track record of spotting talent early on.

“The fact that Cottbus has established itself as a starting point for internationally successful film projects is currently shown by the production ‘The Happiest Girl in the World‘ by the Romanian director Radu Jude. The film, which is being shown in this year’s Forum at the Berlinale, came out of a project which was pitched in Cottbus two years ago,” Rust said.

The Russian director Alexey Uchitel – who was the main prize-winner at last year’s Cottbus festival with “Captive” — will have an opportunity during Connecting Cottbus 2009 to present his new project to the audience of professionals.

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