Ten projects in development will be presented to industry professionals during the 8th Transilvania Pitch Stop (TPS) at this year’s Transilvania Intl. Film Festival, with a hybrid pitching session on July 29 including a range of film funds, distributors, sales agents, producers and financiers both online and on-site in the host city of Cluj.

Launched in 2014 as a five-day workshop for first- and second-time directors from Romania and Moldova, the Pitch Stop expanded in 2017 to include a co-production platform with projects from neighboring countries. The program – which has become one of the leading industry confabs in the region – looks to foster cross-border collaboration while also nurturing and supporting emerging talent.

TIFF industry manager Ioana Lazareanu says the TPS’ mission is to help create “a synergy between the creative side in the industry and the business side.”

“On the one hand, obviously, [there is] the need to nurture, support and promote local talent…and push their skills and projects forward,” she says. “On the other hand, [you have] this idea of entrepreneurship and creating business within the creative industries in a way that’s a lot more sustainable and meets the needs of the future.”

Five of the projects will also receive tailored script consulting with script editor and film consultant Christian Routh. Industry journalist Wendy Mitchell will also lead a workshop on marketing and festival strategy for the emerging filmmakers.

Both the Pitch Stop and the broader industry program at this year’s Transilvania Film Festival reflect efforts to respond to a rapidly changing industry, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating shifts that were already underway, driven by the rise of streaming platforms and the steady decline of cinemas.

“The whole film industry is at a point of major change and we need to address that, we need to invest in the business culture of our professionals for a sustainable industry,” says TIFF founder Tudor Giurgiu. “From filmmakers to distributors and exhibitors, we all need to get together and find ways to adapt to the fast-changing environment.”

Since its launch in 2014, over 70 projects have been developed within the framework of the Transilvania Pitch Stop. Highlights include “Monsters,” the feature directorial debut of Romania’s Marius Olteanu, which bowed in the Berlin Intl. Film Festival’s Forum section; “Apples,” by Greece’s Christos Nikou, which opened the Horizons sidebar of last year’s Venice Film Festival; “The Man Who Surprised Everyone,” a Horizons prize winner from Russia’s Alexey Chupov; and “La Civil” (pictured), by Teodora Ana Mihai, which won the Prize of Courage in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard sidebar this year.

“There’s no shortage of talent in the region,” says Lazareanu, who looked at both the creative and distribution potential when making the final selection. “I’m always really impressed by the creativity and the drive that you can find in the region – projects that can really push and expand beyond the region. There are projects that really have potential to break through.”

The 10 projects selected for this year’s Transilvania Pitch Stop are:

“Confrontation” (Turkey)
Director: Filiz Kuka
Producer: Seckin Akyildiz
Production company: FILMPLUS
Logline: A woman who finds out the awful truth behind her sick mother’s death finds herself in conflict with her family.

“Engelthal” (Romania)
Director: Eugen Dediu
Producer: Gabriela Suciu, Dumitrana Lupu
Production company: Atelier de Film
Logline: The story of a family in a difficult situation, coping with their lives and imminent deaths, told in two separate timelines.

“I’m Not Lakit” (Russia, Lebanon, Romania)
Director: Marie Ivanova Surae
Producer: Marie Ivanova Surae
Production companies: Scoop Production, Né à Beyrouth Films, Avanpost Media
Logline: A Lakit is someone without nationality, home, parents or even a surname. He has no right to study, work, and travel; in the eyes of society, he does not exist. But he is still a human being with the right to a future.

“Sasha” (Russia)
Director: Vladimir Beck
Producer: Katerina Mikhaylova, Vasily Klepatsky, Ruben Dishdishyan
Production companies: Vega Film, Mars Media Entertainment
Logline: Fifteen-year-old Sasha, with a shaved head and rough provincial manners, is taken for a boy by her new friends after she moves to Moscow. Lost and confused, she accepts the new role, not expecting how far this lie will take her.

“The Human Shape” (Romania)
Director: Gheorghe Preda
Producer: Alin Panc
Production company: Papa Pictures
Logline: Alex Ionescu, a young interior designer, witnesses a horrific crime. He wants to save a family being attacked but instead becomes a victim himself. Disfigured, he goes through a long recovery process, then takes his revenge by becoming a serial killer.

“The Poor Dove” (Moldova)
Director: Călin Laur
Producer: Ștefan Nahaba
Production company: Racketa Production
Logline: Raised in a small village in Soviet Moldova, Maria Drăgan was discovered while singing in the tomato plantations of Kolkhoz. An offspring of the communist era, she had a quick rise but also a tragic fall.

“The Talentless” (Serbia)
Director: Radivoje Bukvić
Producer: Jovana Jovičić
Production company: Prikaz Film
Logline: In the wake of the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, a shy 14-year-old boy gets into arms trading to buy a guitar and play in a band to win the heart of the prettiest girl in school.

“The Ways We Look at the Sun” (Romania)
Director: Ioana Țurcan
Producer: Ana Maria Pîrvan
Production company: Studioset Production
Logline: Affected by their different ways of understanding the world and what freedom might look like without suffering from epileptic seizures, two identical twins grow apart when one of them becomes a single mother.

“Who Is Martha?” (Ukraine)
Director: Darina Tregubova
Producer: Aleksandr Omelyanov
Production company: Joyfilms
Logline: A man and his family are forced to return to their homeland during the coronavirus pandemic. On the first day of isolation in a military hospital the man loses his wife and daughter and meets a sworn enemy. He will go through hell to realize that he and his wife have already died, and never had a child. Having understood his mistakes, he gets a chance to start over.

“Tussifed” (Turkey)
Director: Doğu Akal
Producer: Kaan Ege
Production company: Bir Film
Logline: Kuzey and two of his closest friends walk through Kafe Feraye’s door into an enchanting new world in the midst of Ankara’s cold and bleak winter. The new relationships they establish lead to three of the most unsettling days of their lives, and consequently set them on the tragicomic journey called growing up.
Project awarded at Meetings on the Bridge 2021