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First Cut+ hands out its awards


- The first edition of the new programme has awarded the upcoming film projects by Ana Rocha de Sousa, Teemu Nikki and Juris Poškus

First Cut+ hands out its awards
Producer Paula Vaccaro (second from left) receiving the Orka Film Award for Ana Rocha de Sousa’s debut drama, Listen (© Katja Goljat/Matjaz Rust)

The first edition of First Cut+, the new programme that aims to boost the competitiveness and marketability of feature films that have previously been hosted at First Cut Lab, has wrapped with an awards ceremony. Running for four days (16-20 January) during the tenth When East Meets West in Trieste, First Cut+ organised a highly successful screening of the eight participating films (see the news), which are currently in post-production, and more than 80 decision makers attended the event.

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As for the awards, three films received industry prizes that should help them to reach completion. They were decided on by an international jury comprising Fribourg Film Festival artistic director Thierry Jobin, Polish producer Izabela Igel and the co-founder of French sales agency Charades, Yohan Comte.

The existential comedy-drama 24 Hours of Sunshine, the third feature by Latvian director Juris Poškus, was the winner of the Connect the Dots Film Agency Prize, which will cover the festival strategy and visual branding for the international promotion of the film. Starring Andris Keish (Loveless [+see also:
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) and Jeppe Beck Laursen (The Last Kingdom), the story follows Martin, who, on his 40th birthday, decides to change everything and “start to live” after selling his business and even his identity. In his attempt to find a sense of his new life, he will join a group of misfits heading to the North Pole. The film is being produced by Madara Melberga for Latvian outfit FA Films.

Another comedy, Nimby by Finnish director Teemu Nikki, was the recipient of the Sub-Ti Award, which offers subtitling and access services. The film focuses on Mervi and Kata (Susanna Pukkila and Almila Bağrıaçık), an Iranian-Finnish lesbian couple who stay in a village with a gay pastor and his racist wife. Additional characters include a pro-refugee Iranian activist, an overprotective German bodyguard and a pacifist who never talks about politics or religion in his house. When the dwelling is surrounded by far-right extremists, things become even more complicated. Nikki’s regular collaborator Jani Pösö is producing for Helsinki-based company It’s Alive Film.

Finally, Polish production house Orka Films offered two weeks of colour-grading services to Portuguese helmer Ana Rocha de Sousa and her debut drama, Listen. Starring Lúcia Moniz, the film is set on the outskirts of London, where Portuguese immigrant couple Bela and Jota are struggling to make ends meet. Things are getting worse, and the wellbeing of their deaf seven-year-old daughter is in jeopardy. Social services are concerned for her and for the safety of all three of their children, and the parents will do everything in their power to keep their family together. The film is a Portuguese-UK co-production by Rodrigo Areias (Bando a Parte) together with Paula Vaccaro and Aaron Brookner (Pinball London Ltd).

The next edition of First Cut+, at which eight different film projects will take part and be presented, will be held during the upcoming edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’s Eastern Promises Industry Days.

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