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Following a two-year absence, France will be back among the partner countries of Locarno Pro’s Alliance 4 Development platform that facilitates cooperation between existing co-development funds in Switzerland, Italy, Germany and – well – France, once again.

Launched by the Locarno fest’s industry side in 2014, the initiative aims to test market potential and to form creative alliances and foster European co-productions at early stages of development. France had pulled out in 2018 for unspecified reasons, possibly caused by financial constraints.

“European co-productions are obviously a priority for us right now,” Mathieu Fournet, who is director of international affairs at France’s famed CNC national film board, told Variety. “We have very strong relationships with Germany and Italy, and we have bilateral funds with these countries,” he noted.

Fournet said the CNC recently started to look at what they could do to “reinforce co-productions,” and rejoining Alliance 4 Development was a natural step given that “Locarno is one of the important festivals in this field,” and the CNC has a longstanding partnership with Locarno Pro’s Open Doors program, dedicated to supporting cinema in areas such as South-East Asia, where filmmaking is especially tough.

“It made sense to sit around the table with Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, and the Locarno Pro team, to see what we can do to reinforce co-productions between the four neighboring countries,” Fournet noted.

This year due to the coronavirus pandemic Alliance 4 Development is skipping a year, but it will be back in 2021. Besides France rejoining, the other novelty is that Francesca Palleschi will take the reins from Thibaut Braq as the initiative’s project manager. Palleschi is an experienced film and TV market manager who heads the film division of Rome’s MIA market.

Nine projects will be selected through the calls for projects, launched by partner countries, two from Italy, France and Germany, and three from Switzerland. As in the past, delegations of selected projects (director or scriptwriter and producer) are invited to attend for two days of pitching sessions and curated meetings, panels and networking events with carefully selected experts and potential co-development and co-production partners.

Starting from 2021, it will be possible to participate in Alliance 4 Development by application only. Each institutional partner, Italy’s MiBACT, Germany’s FFA, France’s CNC, and MEDIA Desk Suisse will check the eligibility of the submissions and pre-select a list of candidates. The final participating projects will be chosen by the head of Locarno Pro, Valentina Merli, together with Palleschi. Submission will open around April/May 2021.