REPORT: Works in Progress @ Karlovy Vary 2019
by Martin Kudláč
- CEE projects by up-and-coming filmmakers dominated the Works in Progress industry event at Karlovy Vary
In the Works in Progress section of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), producers and directors from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa presented their projects slated to premiere after the KVIFF. The 2019 edition brought mostly CEE projects by up-and-coming filmmakers. The jury, consisting of Khalil Benkirane, of the Doha Film Institute, producer Aija Berzina and Virgini Devesa, from Alpha Violet, decided to pick the Russian-Moldovan co-production Pigeon’s Milk by first-time director Eugen Marian as the winner of the award, worth €100,000 in post-production services and cash (see the news).
Below is an overview of the various projects presented, starting with the winning one:
Pigeon’s Milk - Eugen Maryan (Russia/Moldova)
Pigeon’s Milk is the first official Russian-Moldovan co-production, and the first film to be shot in Transnistria (officially known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic), producer Anna Shalashina revealed. The story follows a teenage protagonist named Andrian, who is seeking revenge against the people who have taken away his mother and a classmate of his, Anna, whom he fell in love with. Then he will escape to Europe to seek a better life. Pigeon’s Milk is Eugen Maryan’s first feature-length project, and the director likens the protagonist’s seven-day plight to the last days of Jesus Christ: “Andrian is not your usual teenager, but rather a messiah who is walking a path of martyrdom through treason and confinement to crucifixion and resurrection.” Pigeon’s Milk is currently being edited, and the final cut should be ready in February or March 2020. Koktebel Film Company and Pascaru Productions are co-producing, and the project has been supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Moldovan National Film Center. The producers are looking for gap financing to finish post-production, plus an international sales agent.
After the Winter - Ivan Bakrac (Montenegro/Serbia)
Ivan Bakrač, a programmer at the Free Zone Film Festival in Belgrade, is readying his feature-length debut, After the Winter. The film is about a group of twenty-something friends living scattered across the former Yugoslavia, who are “rising up against patriarchal heritage, and ignoring the consequences of war and the poor economic environment” as their careless youth comes to an end. “This is a story about a vanishing world, and a nostalgic and humorous ode to friendship and youth. The movie is structured around three friendships taking place in different seasons, all coming together in the epilogue as winter creeps in, in circumstances which the protagonists have no influence over,” Bakrač explains. The film is being produced by Artikulacija and ABHO Film. The project was supported by Creative Europe MEDIA and Film Center Serbia. The release is scheduled for February 2020.
Atbay’s Fight - Adilkhan Yerzhanov (Kazakhstan)
Kazakh filmmaker Adilkhan Yerzhanov is already working on his next project after last year’s The Gentle Indifference of the World [+see also:
interview: Adilkhan Yerzhanov
film profile] premiered at Cannes. His latest, Atbay’s Fight, follows a street thug named Atbay as he tries to win a local tournament in order to start a new life. Yerzhanov envisions the fight scenes as being representative of the protagonist’s “existential intrapersonal conflict”. The director’s signature austere aesthetics, which defined his previous efforts, will also be present here, as he is opting for minimalistic locations, natural lighting and a meticulously strict composition. Asel Sadvakasova and Olga Khlasheva, of Kazakh outfit Short Brothers, are producing. The producers are eyeing February 2020 for the film’s release.
I Never Cry - Piotr Domalewski (Poland)
Polish director-screenwriter-actor-playwright Piotr Domalewski is preparing I Never Cry, which is based on a true story. The protagonist, Ola, travels to Ireland to arrange the transportation of her father’s body back to Poland after an accident on a building site. She is eager to find out whether her dad saved up enough money to get the car that he had promised her. “I have always been fascinated by films that use a simple, dramatic tale of an unremarkable protagonist to speak about society or common social problems,” notes the director, adding that Manchester by the Sea and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri [+see also:
film profile] served as his cinematic references. The Irish part will be shot in Ireland with an Irish cast. Jan Kwiecinski, of Akson Studio, is producing, with Julie Ryan, of MK1 Productions, co-producing. The project was supported by Eurimages, the Polish Film Institute, the Mazovia Warsaw Film Fund and the Warmia-Masuria Film Fund. The producer is looking for a sales agent and festivals.
Intervention - Ksenia Zueva (Russia)
Russian filmmaker Ksenia Zueva is readying her sophomore feature, the erotic drama Intervention. The protagonist, Masha, comes from a dysfunctional family and finds love and a caring soul in Matvey, a married surgeon who is performing her heart surgery. The drama is an exploration of “a painful attachment behaviour that occurs in a person who is born and grows up in destructive conditions, and in the absence of love”. Marika Mikhareva, of Atlant, who produced Zueva’s feature debut, Nearest and Dearest [+see also:
film profile], is staging Intervention along with Oleg Evdokimenko.
Looking for Venera - Norika Sefa (Kosovo)
Kosovar filmmaker Norika Sefa is working on her feature-length debut, Looking for Venera. In it, the eponymous protagonist questions her patriarchal family and is drawn to attitudes that run counter to convention. The project synopsis describes the film thus: “While Venera muses on the meaning of life, the movie expresses a sense of life’s absurdity; behind the rough facades, people are hiding a world of emotions – from humiliation to guilt and disillusionment. The film taps into the provocative sexual appetites of teenagers and touches on the random acts of bullying they have to deal with – not only from their parents, but also from their peers.” Besnik Krapi, of Prishtina-based Circle Production, is producing.
Otar’s Death - Ioseb Bliadze (Georgia/Germany/Lithuania)
The tragicomic drama Otar’s Death sees the father of a teenager attempt to raise a large sum of money in 24 hours to prevent his daughter from being jailed. She killed a man in a car accident, and the family wants the money as compensation. Otar’s Death is inspired by true events and is the feature debut by Georgian director Ioseb Bliadze. Georgian outfit MAISIS PERI is producing, with German company Color of May, Studio Artizm (Georgia) and Lithuania’s M-Films co-producing. The film is expected to be ready at the beginning of 2020.
Siege on Liperti Street - Stavros Pamballis (Cyprus/Greece)
Stavros Pamballis is working on his debut as a writer-director, Siege in Liperti Street, after he penned the scripts for Shirley Adams, Turbulence and Boy on the Bridge [+see also:
film profile]. “Siege… is an exploration of what it means to be a man in the troubled waters of the early 21st century,” states Pamballis. “Cyprus provides an ideal staging ground for the battle between what boys are raised to expect their lives to be and the realities of modern adulthood.” Siege on Liperti Street is being produced by Greek company Argonauts Productions and co-produced by Cypriot outfit Green Olive Films.
The Forgotten - Daria Onyshchenko Gold (Ukraine/Switzerland)
“This story is dedicated to the displaced people from Eastern Ukraine and Crimea as well as to all those people who are staying in the occupied regions against their will,” director Daria Onyshchenko Gold says of her sophomore feature, The Forgotten. The story revolves around a teacher who cannot leave Luhansk and an orphaned pupil who faces a possible jail sentence for putting a Ukrainian flag on the school roof. The teacher tries to save the boy. The Forgotten is currently in post-production, with the finished film expected to be ready in late August 2019. Ukrainian company Directory Films and Switzerland’s Lehmann Sisters are producing. The project secured support from the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and the Federal Office of Culture of the Swiss Confederation. Producer Igor Savychenko told Cineuropa that the movie is unique, as it “shows a simple, human story set against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine”. The producers are looking for distributors, TV pre-sales and sales agents, as well as grants to complete the post-production.
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