At Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival this week a new initiative was launched in collaboration with MIDPOINTtitled Works in Development – Feature Launch, where nine in-development projects were pitched at the Central European event.
MIDPOINT is a Czech-based international training and networking platform under the auspices of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague aimed at writers, directors and producers from low audiovisual capacity territories. In addition to their festival ties, the organization runs a year-long center that organizes a wide range of activities.
The projects, which were selected by committee to participate in workshops run by MIDPOINT at the Trieste Film Festival in Italy in January, and in Belgrade, Serbia in May, came from Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.
The event, which was described as a training platform for emerging filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, hosted workshops that focused on project development, financing and co-production, but primarily dealt with script development. Invited participants were writers, directors and producers working on their first or second features.
Three awards were available to the attending professionals, the Connecting Cottbus Award – the selected project is invited to pitch at Connecting Cottbus, the Rotterdam Lab Award – the selected producer will participate in a professional training program at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Art Department Masterclass Award – the winner will work on the production design of their project with up-and-coming art directors this fall.
Five of the nine titles focused on borders and immigration, a theme that dominates much of European, especially Eastern European, cinema in recent years.
“Homeward” from Nariman Aliev is the story of two Crimean Tatars returning to their native land with the body of their deceased son and brother. Father Mustafa is in a rush to get his son’s body back to be buried within the customary 24 hours, while surviving brother Alim resists, having found his new home in Ukraine more to his liking.
Thelyia Petraki’s “Brazil” follows a man recently diagnosed with ALS on a desperate journey to find a mystical healer and the battle between his own pragmatism and the customs of the Brazilian tribe.
“Sirin” turns on an inheritance lawyer in Paris who is forced to return to her homeland in Montenegro for a case and is confronted by her past, while “The Ugly Mandarin” tells another story of a character more comfortable in their new surroundings in Yiou, a Chinese musician studying in Prague facing struggles with her visa status.
Three of the films are near-past period pieces. Both “Erasing Frank” from Gabor Fabricius and “Leave No Traces” from Jan P. Matuszynski are set in 1983 and deal with the political disenfranchisement felt across much of Eastern Europe during that time. In “Erasing Frank” the titular character escapes to a mental hospital and must decide if he wants to risk everything to get his anti-establishment, punk rock message out, while “Leave No Traces” is the true story of a man named Jurek who similarly puts everything on the line to testify in the case of a brutal beating he witnessed, executed by the Warsaw police.
In Lee Filipovski’s “The Myth of a Real Man,” Vasiliye and his family are set to move to Canada as soon as their visas are approved, but the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia persuades him to stay and defend his homeland.
Gunel Eva’s “Clouds on Leashes” contrasts the way a mother and her daughter grieve the loss of their husband and father, and “Balaur” from Octav Chelaru turns on a forbidden relationship between a married teacher and her 16 year-old student.
Karlovy Vary, MIDPOINT Works in Development – Feature Launch 2018 *Updated With Winners
“Balaur,” (Octav Chelaru, Livia Rădulescu, Romania)
“Brazil,” (Thelyia Petraki, Kostas Tagalakis, Greece)
“Clouds on Leashes,” (Gunel Eva, Maria Ibrahimova, Azerbaijan)
“Erasing Frank,” (Gábor Fabricius, Miklós Havas, Hungary) *Art Department Masterclass Award
“Homeward,” (Nariman Aliev, Marysia Nikitiuk, Vladimir Yatsenko, Ukraine)
“Leave No Traces,” (Jan P. Matuszyński, Kaja Krawczyk-Wnuk, Leszek Bodzak, Poland)
“The Myth of a Real Man,” (Lee Filipovski, Adi Dizdarević, Serbia) *Rotterdam Lab Award
“Sirin,” (Claudia Bottino, Veliša Popović, Senad Šahmanović, Montenegro)
“The Ugly Mandarine,” (Piaoyu Xie, Veronika Kührová, Czech Republic) *connecting cottbus Award