After unveiling the first footage of Levan Akin’s Directors Fortnight film “And Then We Dance” and Nora Fingscheidt’s Silver Berlin Bear winning “System Crasher” during last year’s edition, the 11th Work-in-Progress session of Les Arcs Film Festival reached new heights with a flurry of highlights, including “The Hill Where Lionesses Roar,” “The Gravedigger,” “Shorta” and “Dark Rider.”
Among the 18 films in post where presented during the event, these four titles have received the most offers from sales companies. Spearheaded by Les Arcs and Tribeca’s artistic director Frederic Boyer, the Work-in-Progress session has become one of the world’s most successful industry events dedicated to helping filmmakers and producers find sales agents and distributors and get under the radar of festival programmers. In spite of the massive strikes ongoing in France and the cancelations of trains and flights, more than 500 professionals turned up for the Industry Village of Les Arcs, which also included a co-production forum with 22 projects in development.
“The competition among similar industry events is steep but our track record and strategic positioning ahead of Berlin and Cannes has allowed us to curate films with a crossover appeal, and the rising attendance from sales companies and distributors proves that we are on the right track,” said Boyer, who added that the event might be expanded in some ways next year.
“The Hill Where Lionesses Roar” marks the feature debut of actress-turned-filmmaker Luàna Bajrami, who notably starred in Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” The lushly-lensed film follows three young and free-spirited women who decide to escape their daily lives and form a gang. The film has been compared to “Mustang” by several sales agents. France’s Vents Contraires is producing with Kosovo-based company OrëZanë Films. The film won the inaugural Alphapanda Audience Engagement Award which rewards films with a strong potential for digital marketing and social media promotion.
“The Gravedigger,” which was presented at the Atlas Workshop in Marrakech earlier this month and won a prize, takes place in the slums of Djibouti and follows Guled, a middle-aged gravedigger whose wife suffers from a chronic kidney disease. The drama is produced by Finnish banner Bufo with Pyramide Productions in France and Twenty Twenty Vision in Germany.
“Shorta,” directed by Fredrik Louis Hviid and Anders Ølholm, unfolds in the aftermath of the killing of a young man while in custody and follows two police officers who come face to face with a violent riot in a guetto. The politically-engaged action-packed film, which deals with racism and police brutality in Denmark, is produced by Toolbox Film (“The Hunt”).
“Dark Rider,” meanwhile, is directed by Eva Küpper, is a documentary about Ben Felten, a blind motorcycle rider from Australia who was determined to become a professional racer and joined forces with the former race champion, Kevin Magee, to accomplish his childhood dream. “Dark Rider” is produced by Belgium’s Serendipity Films and Clin d’Oeil Films and Dutch banner Volya Films.
Aside from “The Hill Where Lionesses Roar,” several other films and projects presented at the Industry Village won prizes, including “To Sail Close to the Wind,” Gregoris Rentis’s tragicomic documentary exploring the business of maritime security at a time when the number of piracy incidents keeps rising off the coast of Somalia. The documentary, produced by Greece’s Asterix* and Byrd, as well as France’s Good Fortune Films, won the Titrafilm Award.
“Rabia,” directed by German filmmaker Mareike Engelhardt, won the Artekino International Award. Presented at the Co-Production Village, the project follows a French teenager who finds herself locked in an ISIS-controlled women’s shelter in Rakka. “Rabia” will be produced by France’s Films Grand Huit and Germany’s Starhaud.
“Figures in the Urban Landscape,” directed by Russian helmer Ekaterina Selenkina, picked up the Eurimages Lab Project Award. Now in post-production, the drama captures the day-to-day life of a drug dealer in the outskirts of a city in Russia. The film is produced by Vladimir Nadein in Russia and Dutch Mountain Film in The Netherlands.
Lastly, Dana Lerer’s “Double Happiness,” presented as part of the Talent Village, won the T-Port Prize, while Thessa Meijer’s feature project “Volcano Girl” won a special mention.