France’s Séraphine wins Best Pitch at the 2021 M:brane Forum
by Jan Lumholdt
- For their exquisitely executed pitch of their animation project, producer Valérie Montmartin and director Sarah Van Den Boom were handsomely rewarded
At the M:brane financing forum for youth media in Malmö, Sweden, pitching is not only a centrepiece, but is also regarded as an art form in itself and rewarded as such by an expert jury. The forum’s Noble Art of Pitching initiative was introduced at the 2020 edition, when the accolade went to Danish animator-director Karsten Mungo Madsen for his calm and graceful presentation of the complex themes of his Tiny Films About Sorrow and Courage project.
While weighing up this year's 26 entries (see the news), the jury – comprising producer Nicholas Sando, of Filmbin, Norway; Mette-Ann Schepelern, CEO of Magma Film & TV, Denmark; and Peter Hiltunen, director of Kulturakademin, Sweden – was “blown away” by a pitch from France with “amazing visuals and a clear and consistent presentation [...] turning the pitch itself into a dramatic narrative,” as per the statement. The award, consisting of a colourful diploma and a handsome €2,500 cash prize, is shared by director Sarah Van Den Boom and producer Valérie Montmartin for their joint venture Séraphine, a stop-motion 3D animated adaptation of Marie Desplechin’s 2005 novel of the same name, about a 12-year-old girl growing up in Paris’ Montmartre commune in the late 19th century.
“I think one wins a pitch on the strength of the project,” reflects Montmartin, head of Little Big Story, who is producing Séraphine. “And the precision, the attention that Sarah Van Den Boom has paid to the sets and to Séraphine’s character constitutes the strength of this presentation.” At the time of writing, Séraphine is still in development, with the script (written by author Desplechin herself) soon to be finalised and Van Den Boom gradually perfecting the exquisite Montmartre fin de siècle ambience. Growing interest from international distributors and sellers bodes well, and the film is expected to enter production in 2022, to be ready in 2024.
With record attendance levels of over 230 delegates from 35 countries, the M:brane Forum can look back at a successful event, not least given current circumstances and the fact that it also suddenly found itself positioned back to back with the readjusted Berlinale dates. “We’re pretty used to planning and fine-tuning, so we made the best of it,” concludes M:brane Forum director Lennart Ström. “I greatly appreciate how much more inclusive we suddenly got to be, with participants from far outside Europe joining in. Despite not spending any physical time together, it’s been a lively atmosphere, and the response has been overwhelming. The science and natural-history themes we explored this year also made a really strong mark. We’ve taken some steps forward this year.”
The next edition of M:brane is set for 15-17 March 2022. Programme items are being prepared and will be disclosed at a later date. “We gained a lot of new experiences this year,” says Ström. “Now we’re going to take them all in and process them in order to reinvent ourselves in the best possible way. We like doing that, preferably every year.”
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