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European funds open co-pro opportunities

Several int'l funds have been born or reborn recently

COTTBUS, Germany

European and international producers have more opportunities than ever to access coin for co-productions after a raft of new and re-structured film funds opened over the past year, producers at the Connecting Cottbus industry sidebar of the Cottbus Festival of Eastern European Film heard on Thursday from a panel of funders.

French national funding body CNC’s new World Cinema Support fund is just one of a range of funds offering grants and incentives that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

CNC’s Magalie Armand said €6 million ($7.6 million) was available to support co-productions with French partners this year, with an average of $150,000 going to each feature, cartoon or documentary approved. Up to $64,000 is also available for post-production for a single project.

Rules governing where and how the money is spent are designed to encourage first- and second-time directors, although more experienced filmmakers are also backed, Armand said.

Eastern European projects supported this year include Hungarian helmer Marcell Gero’s “Son of Cain,” Romania’s Corneliu Porumboiu’s “Interval of 9 Minutes” and Czech director Petr Vaclav’s “Cesta ven.”

The relatively low ceiling of a maximum production grant of $320,000 per project favors smaller, modestly budgeted films, said Cedomir Kolar, who produced Danis Tanovic’s Oscar-winning “No Man’s Land.”

Hungary’s new national film fund, now operational following the closure of the old MMKA public fund that collapsed with multi-million dollar debts two years ago, offers as much as $640,000 or 90% of the Hungarian share of a film’s budget, although new, stricter rules on financial accountability, including a requirement that a company needs to be set up for each film funded, are among the challenges producers cite.

Orsolya Benko, one of the new fund’s development team, said that it has backed the development of 57 projects and 10 with production support. Four films are in post-production.

Around 10% of all approved projects so far have been co-productions, she noted.

The Russian Cinema Fund, which is worth $181 million this year — mostly for national films — has approved $5.3 million for 11 co-productions in 2012, the fund’s Anastasia Pavlovich said.

Producers say rules for applications are not always as straightforward as they seem, and there is some confusion over how much of a grant is paid back. At present, some supported projects are expected to return up to 25% of gross receipts, proportionate to the grant.

Generous support across Scandinavia, where average national funds (apart from Iceland) are worth $19 million a year, opens a range of opportunities for co-productions, said Gyda Myklebust of New Nordic Films.

A new Norwegian South Film Fund offers up to $160,000 per project to films from developing countries, she said.

New development funds for German-Russian, German-Turkish projects, alongside an existing fund for German-Polish productions, backed by two Teutonic regional funds, offers new opportunities for pics from those regions, and in both Croatia and the Czech Republic new incentives and rebates are creating better conditions for international projects.

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