ROME – Tensions between Russia and the West over its role in the Ukraine crisis are causing a freeze on co-productions between Russia and European countries, including Germany and Italy. The financial crisis in Eastern Europe coupled with this impasse are prompting European funding entities to launch new schemes being unveiled at the Connecting Cottbus East-West co-production mart in Germany.

“Some funds are now closed for co-productions [with Russia] and Eastern Europe is feeling the impact from the economic crisis,” noted Connecting Cottbus topper Bernd Buder.

In an effort to counter this scarcity of coin Cottbus is presenting new funding opportunities in a panel on new funding schemes for co-productions between Eastern and Westerns Europe. They include the recently established three-nation Re-Act fund launched by Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) Audiovisual Fund with national film funds from Croatia and Slovenia, in cooperation with the TorinoFilmLab. Also attending the event are reps from Germany’s World Cinema Fund run in tandem with the Berlinale. The World Cinema Fund is one of five European funds that recently received financial support from the EU’s Creative Europe – MEDIA program to set up an additional funding scheme to help more European producers step into international co-productions.

Interestingly, the Global East section of the Cottbus fest focusses on Italy this year, reflecting the fact that Italy is increasingly co-producing with Eastern Europe.

Case in point is Italo-Croatian co-prod “Tir,” the docudrama by Italy’s Alberto Fasulo that won the 2013 Rome Film Festival and is now screening at Cottbus.”It’s a good example of the creativeness in the region,” Buder said.

Fasulo is now in early stages on a new project titled “Menocchio,” about a 16th miller who was burned in the Friuli region for being a heretic after being tried by the inquisition. “I’ve written it using the trial records as my starting point,” said Fasulo, calling it “A Giordano Bruno-like story” and adding that “It’s about power and the attempt to control consciousness.” “Menocchio” is being co-financed by the FVG fund and produced by Fasulo’s Nefertiti Film Shingle and Slovenia’s Nora Production Group.

Connecting Cottbus runs November 6 and 7.