KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — Fourteen Central and Eastern European projects, plus a bonus project from this year’s country-in-focus, Lebanon, were pitched as part of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s Works-in-Progress competition on July 6. The jury, comprised of New Europe Film Sales honcho Jan Naszewski, German producer Titus Kreyenberg, and the Berlinale’s Paz Lazaro, selected the Greek pic “Park,” written and helmed by Sofia Exarchou, to receive €10,000 ($13,600) in services from Barrandov Studios.
“Park” was presented by Exarchou and producer Amanda Livanou. It follows a group of youths wilding in Athens’ decaying Olympic Village. The jury statement reads: “Set in the ruins of past glory, this film takes us to the bottom of society and ignites a firework of raw energy. A portrayal of a young generation that has been betrayed and deprived of its future.”
Variety’s Choice: Our Selection of Notable Projects in the Works-in-Progress Section
“The Wolf of Royal Vineyard Street”
(Czech Republic, France, Slovak Republic)
Director: Jan Nemec
An audacious biopic-comedy inspired by the life of helmer Nemec, a key figure of the Czech New Wave (“Diamonds of the Night,” “Report on the Party and the Guests”). Shot guerrilla style, with several layers of narration, it encompasses the political turmoil of 1968 and his time in exile in the U.S.
“The Black Pin”
Director: Ivan Marinovic
This rollicking black comedy is set amongst the wild, natural beauty of Montenegro’s Lustica peninsula and marks the FAMU-trained helmer’s feature debut. A priest called Peter finds himself at odds with the other inhabitants of his small, rural parish when he opposes a large property sale.
Director: Marian Crisan
Marking a change of style for Crisan (“Morgen,” “Rocker”), this low-key thriller centers on a family that starts a new business managing a guesthouse deep in the west Romanian mountains. By the time they realize the area is under the control of an outlaw, it is too late.
Director: Senem Tuzen
Femme-helmer Tuzen’s feature debut is a drama portraying a modern Turkish woman torn apart by feelings of both love and hatred for her traditional mother. Produced by Olena Yershova (“Blind Dates,” “My Joy”), the project participated in the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab and nabbed awards at several co-production markets.
“Houston, We Have a Problem!”
(Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Qatar)
Director: Ziga Virc
Who knew that the Yugoslav government sold their secret space program to the U.S. in 1961? Slovenian helmer Virc, an Academy Award nominee for the short “Trieste Is Ours,” makes his feature debut with a fresh and innovative approach to a Cold War topic that mixes actors and public figures.
(Slovak Republic, Czech Republic)
Director: Marko Skop
Experienced Slovak producer and documaker Skop makes his fiction helming debut with this character-driven drama starring Emilia Vasaryova. The first lady of Slovak cinema plays an alcoholic actress past her prime, who is trying desperately to regain the love of the person she has hurt most: her son.
Director: Kuba Czekaj
A stylish and unusual coming-of-age drama about a 14-year-old physics prodigy whose opportunistic mother pushes him into entering a prestigious competition. Boasting an extraordinary mind and a wounded soul, the boy develops a theory of parallel worlds, which, he initially believes, are linked by light.
(Latvia, Estonia, Poland)
Director: Laila Pakalnina
Prolific Latvian helmer Pakalnina creates a blackly comic parable using the narrative of a never-released film from 1937, directed by Sergei Eisenstein, about a Pioneer hero who denounces his father to Stalin’s secret police. Her modern update shows that the topic of individualism vs. authoritarianism never goes out of style.
Director: Alexandros Voulgaris
The ambitious, highly stylized and provocative fourth feature from multihypenate Voulgaris (who also works as a producer, actor, composer and musician) uses the genre tropes of sci-fi and fantasy to create a parable about dictatorship. It contrasts the P.O.V. of a mother and her son, played by the same performer.
The full list of projects can be found here.