Nine feature films currently in post-production will be presented this week as part of Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s Works in Progress section, a highlight of the festival’s Eastern Promises industry program.
The selected projects, which come from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa, will be pitched to an audience of industry guests on July 1 at 2 p.m. in Karlovy Vary’s Cas Cinema, followed by one-on-one meetings the next day. The best project will receive a €100,000 ($114,000) award that will enable the film to be completed at leading post-production facilities in Prague.
“Our main purpose is to help discover projects with good international potential that could travel beyond the region of Central and Eastern Europe,” said Karlovy Vary head of film industry office Hugo Rosak, programmer Lenka Tyrpakova and WIP manager Vojtech Strakaty by email.
The festival receives around 70 submissions for Works in Progress every year. This year’s selection highlights what the organizers see as a trend toward a more dynamic range of cinematic styles and voices, citing “more genre films, inclusion of lighter elements, and deadpan humor.”
“We are trying to keep the selection as diverse as possible and thus have a little bit of everything represented: social drama with genre elements, generational comedy, art-house gangster film, and even an erotic drama,” they noted.
Submissions from women directors and producers are on the rise, reflecting a similar shift in the types of stories being depicted on screen. “We have noticed that almost half of the projects have very strong female leading characters who are taking destiny into their own hands, which we find very empowering,” said the organizers.
A number of films from Karlovy Vary’s 2018 Works in Progress section have gone on to high-profile premieres, including Suzan Iravanian’s “Leakage” and Marius Olteanu’s “Monsters.”, which both premiered in the Berlinale’s Forum section this year, and Stefan Malesevic’s “Mamonga” (pictured) and Marko Škop’s “Let There Be Light,” which were both selected by Karlovy Vary.
Nariman Aliev’s “Evge,” which took part in last year’s Works in Development section, also debuted this year in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
“Our strength is that we know our region and we have the trust of Eastern European filmmakers,” said the organizers. “Thanks to our industry platforms, we can showcase what is happening in the region and help filmmakers access the market. In the long-term, when the films are ready, we take pride if these films are selected to major festivals or if they can be premiered in Karlovy Vary. That fulfils our mission, and we hope that it makes participation meaningful for all the projects.”
Here are this year’s Works in Progress:
“After the Winter” is the feature debut of Montenegro’s Ivan Bakrac. It follows five childhood friends scattered across the former Yugoslavia, fighting to preserve their friendships as the carefree years of their youth come to an end. The film is produced by Ivan Djurovic (Artikulacija Film).
“Atbay’s Fight,” by Kazakhstan’s Adilkhan Yerzhanov, is the story of a hardened thug living a life of street-fighting and petty crime. When Atbay unexpectedly fights his way to victory in a local tournament, he gets a chance to start a new life. Asel Sadvakasova and Olga Khlasheva (Short Brothers) are producing.
Piotr Domalewski’s latest feature, “I Never Cry,” follows a teenage girl who travels to Ireland to bring her dead father’s body back to Poland. While trying to learn if he fulfilled a promise to her, she discovers a long-harbored dream of coming to know a man she barely knew. Jan Kwiecinski (Akson Studio) is producing.
“Intervention” is the second feature of Russia’s Ksenia Zueva. The erotic drama follows a young woman from a dysfunctional family who is rushed to the hospital one day for emergency heart surgery, where she falls in love with her heart surgeon — a violent passion that will have disastrous consequences. Pic is produced by Marika Mikhareva and Oleg Evdokimenko (Atlant).
“Looking for Venera” is the feature debut of Kosovan director Norika Sefa. It’s the story of a timid young woman who’s pushed to question her patriarchal family by an open-minded, strong-willed new friend. Besnik Krapi (Circle Production) is producing.
A sudden tragedy brings a mother and her son closer together in “Otar’s Death,” by Georgian director Ioseb Bliadze. After teenage Nika hits an elderly man with his car, his single mother has to scramble to raise enough money to pay compensation to the man’s family. The film is produced by Eva Blondiau (Color of May).
In “Pigeon’s Milk,” the feature directorial debut of Eugen Marian, a teenager in a remote Moldovan village plans to run away with his Roma girlfriend. But as he plots his revenge against the people who have wronged him, the escape plot threatens to go awry. Roman Borisevich, Alexander Kushaev and Anna Shalashina (Koktebel Film Company) are producing.
When a man who’s lost his job and self-respect is threatened with eviction in “Siege on Liperti Street,” Cypriot director Stavros Pamballis’ feature-length debut, he takes a final stand to save the house keeping his family together. The film is produced by Panos Papahadzis and Simos Manganis (Argonauts Productions s.a., Green Olive Films).
Daria Onyshchenko’s second feature, “The Forgotten,” is set in a city occupied by separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, where a provocative act by a teenage student puts him in the crosshairs of the local police — and prompts a teacher to risk her own life to save him. Igor Savychenko (Directory Films) is producing.