San Sebastian Focus on the Baltics: Fostering Relationships Between Similar Markets

Baltic industry professionals receive a dedicated platform to seek out international partnerships

SAN SEBASTIAN — San Sebastian’s Focus On initiative, now in its fourth year, invites industry professionals from a country, or countries, to expand their networking contacts and participate in industry activities. This year’s featured Focus On region is the Baltics, and the event is hosting representatives from Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

The Baltics boast strong comparisons to the Basque Country as marketplaces. The countries have similar populations of around two-million people, around 40-50 film and TV productions a year, and similar numbers of theaters, digital screens and domestic box office market shares.

Fifteen producers from the three countries have brought projects to San Sebastian’s shores, with the opportunity to seek out partners and talk with potential co-producers from across Europe and Latin America to fulfill a range of different needs. Some projects are at early stages of development, while others represent already-finished films looking to produce Spanish-language remakes in Spain and/or Latin America.

Lithuania is represented by five projects. “World of Tanks” is Andrius Lekavicius’s character-driven documentary about collectors of WWII relics up to and including tanks, produced by virtual reality studio VsI 360 Laipsniu Filmai. Another doc, “Gentle Warriors” follows three women who join the Lithuanian army and is produced by Moonmakers. “El Padre Medico” documents the real story behind an early 20th century missionary to Amazonia, Brazil. It’s directed by Vytautas Puidokas and produced by Ironcat.

In fiction, Tomas Smulkis’ “People We Know Are Confused” tells three parallel stories set in Vilnius, a modern city still mired in the past, produced by Just a Moment.  Junajo Giménez’s “Three,” produced by M-Films, is the tale of a sound engineer who’s hearing becomes desynchronized from reality, at first lagging behind before eventually allowing her to hear into the future.

Estonia brings six projects. “Skype Story” from director Kiur Aarma will document the story of the small country’s biggest contribution to the digital age, Skype. The other documentary, “u.Q.” is a biopic based on one of the music industry’s best kept secrets, songwriter Uku Kuut, whose unique sound helped form the musical profile of the 21st century. Both documentaries are produced by Film Tower. “Grown Ups” and “The Dance of Men” will look to show off the country’s funny bone, the former takes place over a crazy night shared by three sisters, the latter is the tale of a filmmaker suffering a crisis of creativity. “O2” is a thriller set in 1939 about an Estonian Captain who faces a solitary fight against the aggressive Soviet Forces which threaten from the East. And “Rain” turns on an 11-year old boy in a small town struggling with family drama.

Five projects come from Latvia. “The Shift Maina” from director Reinis Kalvins is produced by Film Sutdio Mistrus Media and tells a dramatic tale of racketeering in post-Soviet Latvia. Another drama set in the early ‘90s, Janis Abele’s “Jelgave ’94” is part coming of age tale and part cultural portrait of the chaos that engulfed many former Soviet territories after its fall. Liene Linde’s “The Golden Spot” turns on film director Martha and parallels her own life with one of her films. The fourth drama from Latvia comes in “Loveable,” director Stanislavs Tokalovs’ story of a modern-day “broken” family and what happens when the person holding them together suddenly dies. And on the lighter side, Andrejs Ekis’ comedy “Swingers” is an ensemble vehicle which has enjoyed successful remakes in Norway, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Slovakia, and is looking to repeat that feat in Spain.

The Baltics are represented at this year’s festival by a number of finished productions as well. Among them, “Core of the World” from Natalia Meschaninova participates in the New Directors section, and is a co-production between Russia and Lithuania, and Xacio Baño’s “Trot,” co-produced between Spain and Lithuania, will see a Q&A with cast and crew at its Wednesday night screening as part of the Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section.

More Film

  • Audrey Wells

    Film News Roundup: Audrey Wells Scholarships Launched by UCLA, China's Pearl Studio

    In today’s film news roundup, Pearl Studio and UCLA start a “Say Yes!” scholarship in memory of Audrey Well; Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale are honored; and the “General Magic” documentary gets bought. SCHOLARSHIPS UNVEILED China’s Pearl Studio has made a gift of $100,000 for endowed scholarships to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and [...]

  • Honey Boy Knock Down the House

    Sundance Hot Titles List: 13 Buzzy Films That Have Buyers Talking

    There’s a good reason that much of Hollywood braves the thin mountain air each year to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not to check out the nearby ski slopes. The annual launch of the indie film gathering brings with it the possibility of discovering the next big thing in moviemaking. [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    Will Oscar Nominations Give This Year's Contenders a Box Office Boost?

    With nominees like “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “A Star Is Born,” the 2018 class of movies proved the Oscars don’t need a popular films category to recognize movies that also made bank in theaters. But now that the academy has selected this year’s crop of awards hopefuls, is there any green left to squeeze [...]

  • A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's

    Sundance: A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's Romance-Drama 'The Souvenir'

    A24 has bought the North American rights to Tilda Swinton’s romance-drama “The Souvenir – Part 2,” closing the deal on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival. “The Souvenir” is set to make its world premiere at Sundance on Jan. 27, followed by playing in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival in February. [...]

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

    Chiwetel Ejiofor Adds Authenticity to Directorial Debut by Shooting in Malawi

    When actor Chiwetel Ejiofor optioned the rights for the 2009 best-seller “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” penning the screenplay for a feature directorial debut that world-premieres in Sundance and then appears in the Berlin Film Festival before being released globally by Netflix this spring, colleagues floated the idea of shooting the Malawi-set film in tried-and-tested [...]

  • ally billboard a star is born

    Oscar Campaign Spending Reaches New Heights in Competitive Season

    The escalating cost of awards campaigning may reach an all-time high this season as heavyweights such as “Roma” and “A Star Is Born” battle for Oscar gold. The quest for an Academy Award has always been expensive, but Netflix’s hunger to nab its first best picture win, coupled with the presence of legitimate studio contenders [...]

  • The Wizard of Oz

    'The Wizard of Oz' to Return to Theaters for 80th Anniversary

    “The Wizard of Oz” is returning to theaters this weekend for a special limited engagement marking the 80th anniversary of the film’s Hollywood premiere. Fathom Events, TCM, and Warner Bros. are re-releasing the beloved family film in select theaters across the country beginning on Sunday, Jan. 27, with additional dates on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and Wednesday [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content