The Transilvania Pitch Stop, a workshop and co-production forum that marks one of the industry highlights of the Transilvania International Film Festival, will present a host of new projects from the Black Sea and beyond during this year’s edition of the festival, which runs July 31-Aug. 9. Among the standouts is Romanian director Adina Pintilie’s follow-up to her Golden Bear-winning “Touch Me Not.”
Launched in 2014 as a workshop for first- and second-time directors from Romania and Moldova, the Pitch Stop expanded in 2017 to include a co-production market presenting new feature film projects from across Southeastern Europe and neighboring countries. Most are presented publicly for the first time, with one taking home the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award, which comes with a €20,000 ($23,500) cash prize.
“Filmmakers from countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Greece, Turkey or Georgia, all share the same struggles of getting their film projects financed, produced and appreciated by general audiences,” says TIFF industry manager Dorina Oarga. “This region is highly affected by political turmoil, and the cultural sector is usually overlooked by the national governments. Therefore a specific platform like TPS adds strong support for the filmmakers.”
In just a few years, the Pitch Stop has become one of the leading events for filmmakers from the region to connect with international partners looking to board upcoming projects and spot emerging talents. Recent alumni include “The Man Who Surprised Everyone,” by Russia’s Alexey Chupov, which world premiered in Venice, and “Monsters.” (pictured), the feature directorial debut of Romania’s Marius Olteanu, which bowed in Berlin.
Among the standouts of this year’s edition are Pintilie’s “Death and the Maiden,” and “Panopticon,” the feature debut from Georgia’s George Sikharulidze, whose short films have screened at Sundance, Toronto, and Clermont-Ferrand. Other buzzy titles include “Dandelion Nectar,” the first feature from Russian filmmaker Anna Kuznetsova, and “Circle,” Turkish director Erhan Tahhuşoğlu’s follow-up to 2016 Karlovy Vary title “Verge.”
“The invited decision-makers and industry professionals are hand-picked based on their interest in working with the region, assuring the right connections in the end,” says Oarga. “Besides the artistic quality, we also take into account the realistic potential for the project to be financed and produced.”
The Pitch Stop’s profile has risen in recent years, and Oarga says winnowing down this year’s selection to 10 films was especially tough, citing a number of strong projects from Turkey, Russia and Ukraine. “There are many new voices coming from this region, but we unfortunately had to limit the selection,” she says.
No less challenging has been the unexpected disruption of a global pandemic that forced the Transilvania festival organizers to unveil a scaled-down physical edition this year. Pitching sessions for the TPS will be held on Aug. 7, combining both physical presentations and live streaming to industry professionals around the world.
“The situation is really unpredictable and constantly changing, making it impossible to predict the extent of the onsite presence,” says Oarga. “We surely adapt every day and do our best to organize a smooth event.”