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REPORT: Agora Works in Progress 2017

by Vassilis Economou

Totalling 12 projects, 11 in competition and one out of competition, Thessaloniki’s Agora Works in Progress 2017 included feature films from the Balkans, the Mediterranean and Central Europe, with Speak So I Can See You and Sister being crowned the winners of the section. Yianna Sarri, the head of Agora, noted: “All films screened on 9 November are premieres, and we believe their participation in Works in Progress is crucial to their completion, whether they win a prize or not. We are always happy to see past participants complete their films and are proud to watch the finished film's festival run, starting with the Thessaloniki IFF, of course!”

Here we offer a detailed presentation of the projects, starting with the winners (read the news on the Agora Awards):

A still from Speak So I Can See You by Marija Stojnić

The €50,000 Eurimages Lab Project Award was won by Speak So I Can See You by Marija Stojnić, a debut feature that is an experimental documentary. Through Radio Belgrade, the only Serbian radio station that still focuses on cultural, artistic and scientific programming, the film follows the connections that are forged among strangers at opposite ends of the radio signal. The film is a Serbian-Croatian co-production by Marija Stojnić, Milos Ivanović (Bilboke), Tibor Keser and Vanja Jambrović (Restart). It is in early production, and is looking for co-producers, funding, sales and distribution.

The Post-Production Services Award by Greek house Graal went to Sister by Svetla Tsotsorkova, which is her sophomore feature (after 2016’s Thirst). In it, two completely different sisters, the younger of whom is prone to daydreaming while the older is materialistic, are living with their mother in a small Bulgarian town. Everything will change when the younger one’s dreams overlap with the reality of the older one. The film is a Bulgarian co-production by Svetoslav Ovcharov (Omega Films) and the director (Front Film). It is starting post-production now, and is looking for financing to complete the movie, a sales agent and a festival premiere.

In detail, the other projects presented were:

A Shelter Among the Clouds by Robert Budinahis sophomore feature (after Agon in 2012). Living in a multi-faith family, shepherd Besnik, a devout Muslim, discovers that the village’s mosque used to be a church. As he tries to keep his family together after his father’s death, he also struggles to convince his community to share the mosque with the Catholics. The film is an Albanian-Romanian co-production by Sabina Kodra (ERAFILM), and Germany’s Pluto is handling the sales. It is looking for financing to complete post-production, and participated in the Crossroads Co-Production Forum as a project back in 2015 (see the news).

Bad Poems by Gábor Reisz, his sophomore feature (see the news), after For Some Inexplicable Reason in 2014. In this dramedy, 33-year-old Tamás Merthner is digging into his memories from the 1980s and 1990s in order to find answers to today’s romantic and existential issues. The film is a Hungarian-French co-production by Júlia Berkes (Proton Cinema) and Estelle Robin You (Les Films du Balibari). It has wrapped shooting, and is looking for a sales agent and festival premieres.

A still from Charcoal by Esmaeel Monsef

Charcoal by Esmaeel Monsef, his sophomore feature. Shot in the Azeri language and set on the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, the story follows a charcoal producer who is picking his son up from jail. He has parole of one week to attend his sister’s wedding, and his uncle has pledged his house as a guarantee. Things will change after the wedding. The film is a French-Iranian co-production by Etienne de Ricaud (Caractères Productions) and Nader T Homayoun (Alias Films). It is currently being edited, and is looking for post-production partners, a sales agent and distributors.

Dead Horse Nebula by Tarık Aktas̨, a debut feature. As a boy, Hay found a dead horse and witnessed his father and other adults get rid of it; now, as an adult, he is still affected by this event and will slowly indulge in a relationship between human and nature. The film is a Turkish-French co-production by Günes̨ Şekeroğlu (Hay Film) and Guillaume De Seille (Arizona Films). It is in post-production, and is looking for post-production support, funding and a festival premiere.

Siren’s Call by Ramin Matin (The Impeccables, 2014), his third film. Despising his job and life as an architect in Istanbul, Tahsin decides to abandon everything to follow Siren, who lives in the south and close to nature – although nothing will be as easy as expected in this social satire. The film is a Turkish production by Emine Yıldırım and Oğuz Kaynak (Giyotin Film). It is in post-production, and is looking for post-production funding and partners, international sales and distribution.

A still from Snowing! by Kristina Nedvědová

Snowing! by Kristina Nedvědová, her debut feature. After attending her father’s second wedding, Tereza, along with her sister and her ex-boyfriend, will visit her mother and grandmother in their house, where they will discover a well-hidden family secret. The film is a Czech co-production by Jitka Kotrlová (Frame Films), Lubomir Konečný (Barrandov Studios) and Vojtěch Frič (Frame100r). It has been edited, and is looking for a sales agent and a festival premiere.

Trot by Xacio Baño, a debut feature (see the news). Taking place during the weekend of the Rapa das Bestas festival in a village in Galicia, the film follows Carme, who lives with her estranged father and works in a bakery. Her dream is to abandon this environment and escape. The film is a Spanish-Lithuanian co-production by Luisa Romeo (Frida Films) and Marija Razgute (Ciobreliai Films). It is currently being edited, and is looking for a sales agent and distributors.

The Waiter by Steve Krikris, a debut feature. In this neo-noir, Renos works as a waiter, and he is a peculiar, introverted kind of person, living in his own private world. In his spare time, Renos likes painting small still lifes. His everyday life is characterised by a repetitive routine, yet fate has an unexpected turning point in store for this lonely man. The film is a Greek co-production by Steve Krikris and Nicholas Alavanos (Filmiki Productions). It is in post-production (see the news), and is looking for finishing funds, a sales agent and festivals.

A still from Zizotek by Vardis Marinakis

Zizotek by Vardis Marinakis, a sophomore feature (after Black Field in 2010). The drama-fantasy follows the story of a nine-year-old boy who was abandoned by his mother in the middle of a forest. His meeting with a 50-year-old hermit, who has taken a vow of silence, will help him in his quest to find his mother and create a unique father-son relationship. The film is a Greek-Bulgarian co-production by Konstantinos Vassilaros (StudioBauhaus) and Red Carpet Films. It is in post-production, and is looking for gap financing, a sales agent, festivals and distribution.

Unpleasant by Giorgos Georgopoulos (out of competition), a sophomore fiction feature (following Tungsten in 2011). In this black comedy, Aris’ life will change completely over the course of a week when he finds out that he’s carrying a rapidly spread sexually transmitted virus that is lethal to women. He will spend seven days travelling and meeting all of his numerous past lovers to discover who was the one who originally transmitted the virus. The film is a Greek co-production by Giorgos Georgopoulos (Multivision) and Antonis Kotzias (Yafka). It is in production, and is looking for financing, a sales agent and festivals.

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