CineMart thriving in tough times

Producers line up for strong slate

CineMart, Rotterdam’s venerable co-production market, is braced for the impact of the global financial crisis. But the effects are unlikely to be seen at the 2009 edition, according to topper Marit van den Elshout. “I think we will know more about that next year,” she says. CineMart runs Jan. 25-29.

Interest in this year’s mart is as strong as ever. Nearly 500 projects were submitted, of which 36 have been selected, and potential co-producers are queuing up to attend.

There are clouds on the horizon, however, among the national film funds that collaborate with CineMart. “We’ve noticed a bit that they are keeping their reserves for things that they do locally, and maybe they have more targeted marketing strategies for going abroad,” van den Elshout says.

Otherwise it is hard to separate the effects of the financial crisis from ongoing industry problems. “Sales agents and distributors have been in a difficult position for a while now and that might increase, but I don’t know if that is necessarily to be blamed on the financial crisis or something that was bound to happen anyway.”

Van den Elshout thinks Rotterdam may even see an upside when the crisis begins to bite. “CineMart is not usually the sort of place where people pull out their checkbooks and offer half a million euros,” she explains. “It’s all about making connections and continuing the networking throughout the year. But I do think that the competition to find the right projects is probably higher, so in that sense it is less hard for us to attract (people) to Rotterdam.”

CineMart is continuing to offer producers new ideas about finance, particularly exploiting new platforms and online strategies. Last year it presented case studies of projects with a strong digital side, and this year a cross-media project has been included in the selection. Lance Weiler’s “Him” is described as a collision of film, gaming and interactive technology, which places the viewer in the shoes of the protagonist.

Including it in the mart is a way of bringing new-media projects out of the specialist ghetto, van den Elshout says. “I want to blend it in, to see how it works to have it as an official project on the list and how European funds or possible co-producers get involved.”

Weiler will also lead a new-media workshop for the Rotterdam Lab, CineMart’s program for emerging international film producers.

Other standout projects at CineMart include “Pioneer” from Erik Skjoldbjaerg (1997’s “Insomnia”).

There is an animated feature, “Alois Nebel,” by Czech duo Tomas Lunak and Jaromir Svejdik, and a remake of the 1960 South Korean thriller “The Housemaid,” proposed by Gina Kim (“Never Forever”).

Other notable names with projects include Taika Waititi (“Eagle vs. Shark”), Zhang Yuan (“Seventeen Years”) and Pablo Stoll, who is presenting his first solo project since the death in 2006 of collaborator Juan Pablo Rebella (“25 Watts,” “Whisky”).

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