The Rotterdam Film Festival’s IFFR Pro Days and CineMart came to a close on Friday with awards for projects from Greece, China and Afghanistan, including the latest work from Kabul-based filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat. Juries handed out a total of five IFFR Pro awards to promising film projects participating in this year’s co-production market.
Evi Kalogiropoulou’s “Cora,” produced by Athens-based Neda Films, won the €20,000 ($24,000) Eurimages Co-production Development Award, presented by CineMart and the Council of Europe’s Eurimages Fund to a project that is or will be a European co-production.
While emphasizing “the quality and diversity of projects developed by experienced directors and new talents,” the jury said it ultimately “chose to support a supernatural drama featuring two unexpected female characters struggling for freedom and identity in a unique and colorful industrial setting.”
Haolu Wang’s “A Dutiful Wife,” produced by Beijing-based Factory Gate Films, nabbed the €6,000 ($7,190) ArteKino International Award, which supports the development of standout projects. The prize sponsored by European culture channel ARTE’s foundation for the promotion of arthouse cinema.
“We decided to give our award to a first feature by a female filmmaker who creates immersive, subjective narratives in order to explore the characters’ psychological and emotional journeys, often blurring the boundaries between reality and imagination,” the jury said.
“The writer-director and her producers are open to working with a European crew and are looking for international partners who can bring funds and input from their perspectives. We believe European support can help them defend the project and give the filmmaker more freedom to speak up.”
The jury added, “The project is universal, it deals with the human condition and in particular with women’s rights. It is the story of a psychiatrist whose missing husband appears to be locked in her wardrobe.”
Sadat’s “Kabul Jan” took the €7,500 ($8,988) Filmmore Post-Production Award, presented by Amsterdam-based VFX and post-production lab Filmmore and CineMart.
A romantic comedy about a young camerawoman and an older married news reporter at a Kabul TV station, “Kabul Jan” is produced by Danish-German group Adomeit Film and Sadat’s Wolf Pictures in Kabul.
“The jury was immediately drawn to this project, not least because it was rare to see a comedy,” the jury said. “Against the backdrop of a violent city and a strict Islamic society, where war is part of everyday life, the lovers have to find ways of meeting each other.
“As director Shahrbanoo Sadat puts it: Afghanistan deserves to be seen differently and it is a duty to do so.”
The €5,000 ($5,992) Wouter Barendrecht Award went to Teddy Cherim’s Dutch project “De Maalstroom,” produced by Amsterdam-based Graniet Film.
The award is presented in partnership with the Wouter Barendrecht Film Foundation in honor of the late founder and co-chairman of Fortissimo Films, IFFR programmer and former head of CineMart. It supports projects with a director under 35 who has not directed more than three films.
“The makers strive for an optimistic approach and their guiding principle is light humor with a twist,” the jury said about the project, “about a personal family history coinciding with and against the background of contemporary social issues.”
“The final convincing factor,” the jury added, “was their choice for a cast consisting mainly of immigrants and refugees.”
Truong Minh Quý’s gay Vietnamese drama “Viêt and Nam,” produced by Manila-based Epicmedia Productions, took the €2,500 ($2,996) IFFR Young Film Critics Award. The prize is presented by young critics, who take part in a festival training program, to the project they would most like to see realized based on presentations and pitching videos.
“‘Viêt and Nam’ promises an inimitable narrative that places queer male bodies within Vietnam’s natural landscape, a place marred by colonial scars, ecological devastation and the aftermath of war,” the jury noted. “Through its poetic visual sensibility, this project provides an opportunity to reclaim love and memory as integral parts of an emancipation process; a path for contemporary identities to resurface from dark and dirt-ridden coal mines into a brighter future.”
In closing remarks, IFFR Pro head Marit van den Elshout said: “We have truly enjoyed our first-ever online edition of IFFR Pro Days. We’ve seen two weeks of interaction and connection with producers in the Rotterdam Lab, project teams in CineMart, filmmakers with films in the festival program and attending film professionals.
“The resilience of the film industry and the dedication to connect and exchange was inspiring after months of planning this online edition.
“We felt the energy transcend the screen and believe we have been able to foster new collaborations that will drive our industry forward. We hope to take the success of this experience, our expanded skill-set and a renewed spark with us into future editions.”
The Rotterdam Film Festival runs through Feb. 7.