Professionals ask for Italian-Balkan and European synergies to be strengthened at Rome's Balkan Film Festival
- The creation of a common fund is the strategic objective to emerge from the workshop, held in Rome during the fifth edition of the festival dedicated to Balkan film
Strengthening synergies, creating a common fund and simplifying the procedures involved in accessing funds in order to build cultural, economic and creative bridges between Italy and the Balkan states: these were the aims discussed within the workshop entitled "Making Films Together: A bridge between Italy and the Balkans to foster co-productions between young producers", which was held on the third day of the Balkan Film Festival, an event dedicated to Balkan culture and cinematography organised by the Occhio Blu cultural association, whose fifth edition unspooled in Rome between 29 November and 4 December (read our news).
Filmmakers, directors of film centres and producers from both sides of the Adriatic exchanged views on how best to bolster the development of Italian-Balkan and European co-productions, and their starting point was European funds and the central role they play in encouraging audiovisual productions and co-productions. Representing Creative Europe MEDIA, Giuseppe Massaro and Maria Cristina Lacagnina of the Creative Europe Italy Desk, first reminded attendees that the MEDIA budget (1.4 billion euros) had almost doubled in Covid times compared to the previous seven years, and that the programme was being progressively opened up to the Balkan countries, before explaining the various European calls and how they can be utilised: specifically, those dedicated to audiovisual production whose deadlines fall in the early months of 2023; in other words, calls for European Co-Development (for co-development of works for cinema, TV and platforms), European Slate Development (for the development of a catalogue of 3 to 5 projects), European Mini-Slate Development (dedicated to countries with low audiovisual production capacities, i.e. all the Balkan states), and TV and Online Content (for projects intended for TV broadcasting).
The floor was then handed to various filmmakers and film centre directors active in the Balkan region. Albanian director and producer Jonid Jorgji - who’s also the director of the Commune of Tirana’s Creative Industries Agency - emphasised the need to simplify the process involved in responding to European calls, and the absolute need to create a common fund between Italy and the Balkan states in order to enable future co-productions. Arben Zharku, a producer and a former director of the Film Centre in Kosovo - a country which has seen co-productions with close neighbours multiplying in the past ten years, and which boasts a predominant number of women filmmakers – agrees with him: “Co-productions aren’t just about sharing money, they’re also a precious blend of different countries’ creativity”, he stressed.
“Up until 5-6 years ago, we only made nationally-produced films, but now, all films are born as co-productions with neighbouring, or non-neighbouring countries, such as Belgium or Holland”, the director of the North Macedonia Film Agency Bojan Lazareski pointed out. Meanwhile, Slovenian director and DoP Gregor Bozič focused on the issue of broadcasting works: “One of the biggest problems for us directors is the frustration of not knowing what will happen afterwards”, he explained. “[…] we need to create more opportunities for viewers to see the films that have been spoken about in the big festivals and promote them in schools in order to re-educate our youngest audiences on auteur cinema”.
Sticking with the theme of the importance of collaboration between different countries, the microphone was handed to producers with direct experience of creating films in co-production with Europe and the Balkans: Serena Alfieri of Vivo Film spoke about Laura Bispuri’s Sworn Virgin [+see also:
Q&A: Laura Bispuri
film profile], which was shot in the mountains on the border between Albania and Kosovo; Serbian-Croatian producer Ines Vasilievic of Nightswim spoke of her experience with Daniele Vicari’s The Human Cargo [+see also:
film profile]; Barbara Meleleo of Clipper Media told attendees how Barbara Cupisti’s documentary Hotel Sarajevo [+see also:
interview: Barbara Cupisti
film profile] evolved thanks to invaluable contact with the local community; and Giovanni Saulini of Magda Film announced the project he’s developing based upon “Il sogno italiano”, a book by Albanian writer Ylljet Aliçka, which is set to be directed by Mimmo Calopresti. Last but not least, it was Ado Hasanovic who wrapped up the workshop, a Bosnian director now living in Rome who actively promotes dialogue between Mediterranean countries, via collaboration between the Sardinian festival Passaggi d'Autore - Intrecci Mediterranei, of which he’s the artistic director, and the Sarajevo Film Festival.
(Translated from Italian)
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