LOCARNO, Switzerland — The Locarno Film Festival is seeking to improve the dynamics of European co-productions by fostering early stage collaborations between producers in Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland through its Alliance for Development, now at its first official edition after a test run last year.

As co-production schemes in Europe become more of a necessity, the purpose of this initiative is “to reinforce co-productions at an early level,” says its project manager Lucas Rosant. “To provide tools to the the different partners, so they know more about respective talents, casts,” he explains. “Who is bankable? What do their respective audiences like to watch?.”

Locarno’s AFD effort is also about starting co-productions from the development stage, which frames the collaboration in creative, rather than just financial, terms.

The participating co-development funds link France’s famed CNC, Italy’s MiBACT, and Germany’s FFA. Since Switzerland does not not have a similar co-development fund, three Swiss projects that are seeking German, French and Italian co-producers have also been picked as special guests.

Switzerland’s role in the initiative is interesting. The country is not part of the European Union but “speaks the [other countries’] three languages, which makes it a natural partner,” Rosant notes.

Also, Switzerland not being part of  Eurimages, the council of Europe’s co-production fund, “does not exclude them from being a co-producer on Eurimages films, if they remain a minority partner,” he points out.

This year, after last edition’s informal debut, AFD has more projects and more partners, including the European Producers’ Club, and Eurimages.  They are also collaborating with the International Casting Directors Network (ICDN), with Europa Cinemas, which supports distribution of European movies, and with training program EAVE.

Alliance for Development is being conceived not as a co-production market, but rather an annual rendezvous for production professionals from these four countries to discuss projects, test their positioning/market potential, and get to know each other better. Despite its four-country focus, it is also open to execs from other countries who may be interested in boarding selected projects as potential financing, sales, or distribution partners.

At the same time, the idea is also to foster co-development and co-production opportunities between the neighbouring European territories on specific projects that offer natural elements for organic, creative and financing partnerships.

The selected projects are:

MiBACT – CNC: “Controvento” by Massimiliano Zanin. Producer: Frederico Lami, Wave SRL

MiBACT – CNC: “Hope” by Ivan Cappiello. Producer: Luciano Stella, MAD Entertainment

MiBACT – FFA: “Samia” Producer: Simone Catania, Indyca SRL

CNC – MiBACT: “Scelsi, le premier mouvement de l’immobile” by Sebastiano d’Ayala Valva. Producer: Nicolas Lesoult, Les Films de la Butte

CNC – MiBACT: “Elisabeth” by Guido Chiesa. Producer: Marie Gutmann, Méroé Films

CNC – FFA: “La Nuit Allemande” by Claus Drexel. Producer: Florent Lacaze, Daisy Day Films

FFA – CNC: “Genosse Stalin saved my life” by Kamila Kubiak. Producer: Nicole Ringhut, Belle Epoque Films GmbH

FFA – MiBACT: “Children of the Ice” by Stefano Lodovichi. Producer: Jakob Weydemann, Weydemann Bros

FFA – MiBACT: “The Guard” by Giulio Ricciarelli. Producer: Oliver Schütte, tellfilm Deutschland UG

Selected from 2016 submissions for project development within Swiss MEDIA

“Taub” by Tobias Nölle. Producer: Simon Jaquemet, 8horses

“Les Ombres Rouges” by Aude Py. Producer: Britta Rindelaub, Alva Film

“BuraNEST” by Dodo Hunziker. Producer: Urs Schnell, DokLab