Irena Taskovski • Producer and sales agent
by Vladan Petkovic
27/08/2012 - Irena Taskovski, founder and CEO of the Taskovski Films, with a team of four people, built the name of the company on producing and distributing documentary hits Czech Dream, People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am, Cooking History, Katka and others. Recently the company picked up appetizing titles from emerging film-makers, such as Angelos Abazoglou’s Berlinale title Mustafa’s Sweet Dreams, Uruguayan Alicia Cano’s The Bella Vista. which recently premiered in Karlovy Vary, and Argentinean José Luis García’s The Girl from the South. which will have its world premiere at Toronto, after winning the audience award at BAFICI.
Based in London, the company used to have a branch in Prague, has one in Trieste, and has recently opened an office in Irena’s hometown Banja Luka in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Cineuropa: Why did you choose Banja Luka?
Irena Taskovski: As markets develop and different territories and regions come into the spotlight, we try not only to follow that, but also to be a step ahead. We went to Prague in 2003 to do Czech Dream, which was an excellent reflection of the Czech society and its view of the accession to the EU. Changes in society and transition from one political system to another are a fertile ground for interesting subject matter, and that is what I expect tohappen in the Balkans in the next few years. Czech Dream is exactly the kind of film we are interested in- it tackles a serious subject matter with a large dose of humour, and this is certainly what Balkan films possess.
Bosnia is about to enter the MEDIA Programme, which is a great opportunity to develop a serious production practice in the country. We are always on the look for new talent which brings a fresh view on society and express it in an original way, and help them develop and break out, like we did with Garcia, Filip Remunda (Czech Dream), Helena Třeštíková (Rene), Boris Gerrets (People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am), and Audrius Stonys (Ramin).
How do you intend to do this in Bosnia?
First you have to educate people and develop the potential so that the talent can be recognized. Recently, we have been involved in educational programmes in developing countries, such as for example with Documentary Resource Initiative in India or Chiledoc in Chile. Here film-makers have great ideas, but don’t know how to develop them and make them interesting for the international market. This is exactly what we do: teaching script development, “packing” and international presentation, and how to access international funds and be commercially feasible, but without losing the specific creativity. We have a lot of experience in this, having taken part as lecturers in workshops such as those of Ex Oriente or SOURCES 2.
You also work with arthouse fiction films, have you thought about developing this sector in Banja Luka as well?
We are currently more focused on documentaries, and in Bosnia there is very little money for production, so we believe it’s better to start with a financially less demanding genre. Crucially, the social reflections are much better captured and presented in documentary form. Also we intend to organize regular screenings of top quality documentary films in Banja Luka, a city with only one cinema which screens only commercial fare. In order for people to understand what a creative documentary is and to get interested in it, they first have to be able to see some. Right now their only chance to do so is at the city’s International Film Festival Kratkofil Plus, which is just one 5-day event in July, and we intend to open room forsuch a possibility all year round. It is a crucial part of our long-term development plan.
Besides Bosnia, how is it going to work on the regional Balkan level?
We are well connected with other similar initiatives in the region, like the Sofia-based Balkan Documentary Centre (where I had already been teaching last two years) and Skopje’s International Festival of Creative Documentary MakeDox. They work on education and development on various levels and we will co-operate to achieve our common goal.