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Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ Gives Push for First-Time Features

CANNES–Seven first-feature projects will be pitched to an audience of industry professionals at Focus CoPro’, an event hosted by Cannes’ Short Film Corner that will take place Tuesday May 21 at the Palais des Festivals.

The pitching session, which is run in collaboration with Nisi Masa and the Pop Up Film Residency, was introduced last year as a way to support early-career filmmakers looking to make the leap from short to feature films. This year’s edition will build on the success of the inaugural program with an expanded scope, according to Short Film Corner head Camille Hébert-Bénazet. “This year is our second edition and we are expecting more people, especially buyers, residences, labs, film funds and more producers,” she said.

The Focus CoPro’ pitch has also expanded to include more projects, with organizers winnowing down more than 90 applicants to select the seven most promising projects—as well as another that wasn’t included in the official program, because it’s already in the editing stage.

“This year we have six fictions and a documentary, each with it’s very own universe, a particular narration, and a strong potential on the international market,” said Hébert-Bénazet. Among the selection are filmmakers who have presented previous shorts in Cannes’ official competition, as well as in the festival’s Critics’ Week and Directors’ Fortnight sections.

A new addition this year is the partnership with the Bratislava-based Pop Up Film Residency, which will select one project for a three-week residency in the Slovakia. Hébert-Bénazet said the collaboration will provide “additional support to filmmakers bridging the gap from short to feature.”

She also pointed to several successes from the first edition, including “Los Garcia,” by Paco Nicolas, which was picked up by Spanish sales agent Agencia Freak, and Felipe Galvez’s buzzed-up Chilean Western “The Settlers,” set up at Chile’s Quijote Films, which won the TFL Co-Production Award at the TorinoFilmLab, has been boarded by prestige co-producers Rei Cine and Snowglobe, and is taking part in this year’s Cinéfondation L’Atelier in Cannes.

The following projects were selected for this year’s Focus CoPro’:

*“Casablanca” is director Adriano Valerio’s documentary about a Moroccan exile’s efforts to return to Casablanca, after his hopes of building a better future in Europe are dashed. The film is produced by Giulia Achilli of Dugong Films and Lionel Massol of Films Grand Huit.

*In Carlota Pereda’s horror-thriller “Piggy,” an overweight teen is bullied by a clique of cool girls poolside while holidaying in her village. The long walk home will change the rest of her life. The pic is produced by Merry Colomer of Morena Films.

*“Ebba & the Lover,” by Johanna Pyykkö, is the story of a teenage dropout with low self-esteem who meets a man with amnesia and deceives him by saying they’re in a passionate relationship.The film is produced by Verona Meier of Ape&Bjørn AS.

CREDIT: The Short Film Corner

*After a traffic accident kills his sister-in-law in An Pham Thien’s “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell,” a man returns to his hometown, where he’s haunted by past memories and desires. Thien’s JK Film is producing.

*In “Beautiful Life,” a docudrama by Faustine Cros, a woman who was relentlessly filmed since birth by her filmmaker father questions if there’s another reality behind those images that might reveal the truth about her mother’s tragic destiny. The film is produced by Julie Frères of Dérives.

*Elin Övergaard’s “Lo” is a dramedy that depicts two stories of a woman in two different stages of her life, raising questions about what happens when individualism takes over socialism. Övergaard is producing.

*“Papet,” by Federico Luis Tachella, is a fantasy-drama documentary about a real-life group of friends whose coming-of-age captures the agony and ecstasy of adolescence and the first encounter with death. Patricio Alvarez Casado of Rebolucion is producing.

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