Project finance remains tight in CineMart

Mart sees more veteran filmmakers

Finance is not the first thing on the mind of CineMart topper Marit van den Elshout when she thinks about which projects to select for Rotterdam’s co-production market. “It’s closer to how a programmer makes a film selection,” she explains. “You look at the variety you present, the view of the world that you present and the kind of filmmakers that you want to support in your market.”

That said, CineMart is sensitive to the sort of films that play well with prospective partners. “You have to think about what a project can do in Rotterdam, but you don’t select your projects on only a financial basis,” she says.

The project profile is shifting, year by year, with a growing proportion of first and second films in the 2011 selection. “It’s getting more difficult to have a first feature by a young filmmaker who has only done a few shorts, and a producer who doesn’t have a track record yet, and no financing in place,” she explains.

Well-known helmers present this year include Jan Svankmajer, Carlos Reygadas, Alex van Warmerdam, Andrei Zvyagintsev and Sergei Loznitza.

In the same spirit of moving with the times, CineMart has brought Frank Peij-nenburg of A-Film onto its selection committee, to give the distributors’ POV. “So we’ve also looked at the market value of projects, all in the Rotterdam spirit,” says Van den Elshout.

That market means arthouse cinemas, the traditional niche for Rotterdam films, but also new platforms. “I don’t think the presales market is getting any better, but a lot of distributors are starting to do more with DVD and online,” she says. “We’ve focused more on those kinds of companies, because they are looking for content.”

Interest from potential funding partners has been strong, but this doesn’t mean there’s money to spare this year. “Because of the decrease in national funding for film in many countries, the need to work together, in one way or another, is only becoming stronger.”

CineMart will also reflect on the outcome of Cinema Reloaded, last year’s experiment in crowdfunding. This had its troubles, with one of the three projects dropping out and the remaining two falling far short of financial targets. But helmers Alexis Dos Santos and Ho Yuhang both completed 20-minute films, which will be shown at the fest.

Many lessons have been learned. “In order for this to work, the audience really needs to feel an urgency to help the filmmaker develop and finance their project, and in order to do that the filmmaker really has to be smart about involving the audience,” says van den Elshout.

That wasn’t always the case with Reloaded: “When Alexis got more active in involving his audience — he shot his film recently in Amsterdam and asked for people to become extras — that worked really well, but maybe it was a bit too late,” van den Elshout says.

The fest is now thinking about how Cinema Reloaded can be revamped for the future.

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