Soňa Morgenthalová • Programme coordinator, MIDPOINT
“Over the past year, we’ve been delighted to see the Feature Launch projects premiering at the most prominent European film festivals”
- Cineuropa talked with the programme coordinator about the upcoming edition of MIDPOINT Feature Launch and about what has changed compared to previous years
MIDPOINT Feature Launch (FL), the programme that targets creative teams with feature films in development and aspiring script consultants coming primarily from Central and Eastern Europe, has launched its call for the 2023 edition. Cineuropa had a chance to talk about this with Soňa Morgenthalová, programme coordinator at the MIDPOINT Institute, in order to discover more about the upcoming edition, the changes from the previous years and the success of the project-development programme.
Cineuropa: After more than a decade in existence, MIDPOINT Feature Launch probably needs little introduction, although would you like to share with us what the key features of the programme are and what has made it successful so far?
Soňa Morgenthalová: In the beginning, Feature Launch was aimed at film-school students and script development for their graduation films. The emphasis of the training has always been on strengthening cooperation both within creative teams and across nationalities. Over the years, Feature Launch has become a more advanced training programme, offering not only script consultancy, but also support in other aspects of project development, like financing, marketing and distribution. Also, thanks to our industry partners like Karlovy Vary IFF, When East Meets West and many others, we have been able to help emerging professionals introduce and establish themselves in the European film industry, and get feedback on their projects from an international pool of decision makers. I believe that this complexity is the most substantial aspect of our training that has made it successful and brings more and more applicants each year.
A question you must get asked quite often is what kinds of projects is FL looking for, and how do you finally select them each year?
The most important condition is that the project must be the director's first or second live-action fiction feature. The project should also be intended as an international co-production with the aim of having a theatrical release. Feature Launch focuses mainly on projects from Central and Eastern Europe; however, we are also open to others willing to co-produce with this region. Genre-wise, we don't have any specific rules – you could apply with a war drama or a dark comedy.
The selection process is quite complex and time-consuming (big thanks to the reading committee members), and we end up with nine projects in the final selection. As we have received many requests for feedback in the past from non-selected participants, we decided to introduce a new module, "Online Feedback Session". This session will serve as an intermediate stage of the selection process, where approximately 20 shortlisted projects are invited to get initial feedback from our tutors. We hope that with this multi-level selection, we can accommodate more projects and their demand for feedback. Therefore, even if they don’t get into the final selection, they will at least have some valuable insights and direction on how to proceed further in their development.
Another important part is the script-consultancy training; what are the benefits for the participants in that programme?
Aspiring script consultants have a unique opportunity to enhance their craft on real projects, with real filmmakers and with real problems that might crop up during the development process. It’s a learning-by-doing type of training, where we don’t teach the theory, but support them in practice. The trainees are guided not only by our script consultants, but also by their own mentor, Gyula Gazdag, artistic director of the Sundance Directors Lab. Apart from enhancing their script-editing and communication skills, they will also learn about different types of written reports and, last but not least, will have the opportunity to widen their professional network at Karlovy Vary IFF.
Could you also share some of the most recent projects that have made it onto the screen or any other success stories?
Over the past year, we’ve been delighted to see the Feature Launch projects premiering at the most prominent European film festivals. The latest alumni premieres were Borders of Love [+see also:
interview: Tomasz Wiński
film profile] by Tomasz Winski at the Karlovy Vary IFF and How Is Katia? [+see also:
interview: Christina Tynkevych
film profile] by Christina Tynkevych at Locarno. Also, Traces by Dubravka Turić will premiere next month at the Warsaw Film Festival. Apart from that, Looking for Venera [+see also:
interview: Norika Sefa
film profile] by Norika Sefa has joined the Oscar race as the representative of Kosovo.
The call for MIDPOINT Feature Launch is now open, and the deadline is 24 October, with all of the relevant details available here.
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