Pitching forum focuses on German funders

TRIESTE, Italy

The third When East Meets West project pitching event closed Tuesday after two days of industry meetings and panel discussions, under the umbrella of the Trieste Film Festival.

Part of a rash of recently launched professional forums hosted by fests around Europe bringing producers together with funding chiefs, commissioning editors and national film commissions, the event reflects a growing trend of micro-managing business opportunities that can meet EU cultural diversity aims.

The Trieste event, conceived to help Eastern European producers from beyond EU borders gain partners and access in the core countries, has swiftly developed into something where demand is increasingly driven by Western partners.

WEMW head Alessandro Gropplero, who works for the event’s co-funder, the Trieste-based regional film fund FVG, said the first two events focused on bringing French and then Nordic producers and funding chiefs to meetings with Eastern European counterparts.

This year’s focus on German-speaking countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, saw significant demand, he said.

“Nearly a quarter of the 136 applications to pitch projects and a third of the 150 guests came from German-speaking areas,” Gropplero told Variety.

The event — which like the Locarno fest’s Step In, launched in August — aims to create opportunities for smaller nations to access a wider European market, and is helping change the way business is done in and beyond Europe’s borders.

Tamara Tatishvili, head of the Georgian National Film Center, said that though France had traditionally been its key Euro production partner, Germany was now just as important.

“The strong point here in Trieste is that you get all the key producers and decision-makers from the country in focus under one roof, and they are a lot less busy than in other big co-production markets like Berlin or Cannes,” she said.

Georgian producers with projects looking for German partners had a great chance of success at such events, she added.

Manfred Schmidt, CEO of Leipzig-based regional film fund MDM, held talks about six projects seeking co-production funds and said he had been impressed by their quality, range and novelty. “There were a lot of new projects in the markets that I had not heard of before; there are fresh players here.”

Projects pitched at the market, which secured backing from the EU’s Media program for the first time this year, included innovative titles, such as $3.3 million-budget “Chris the Swiss.” Pic is a semi-animated study of the death of a Swiss journalist-turned-mercenary during the Balkans civil war told from the perspective of his cousin, the film’s helmer Anja Kofmel, who was 9 at the time of his death. It was produced by Baghdad-born, Zurich-based writer and director, Samir.

Next year the event’s regional focus will be on the Benelux countries.

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