Magazine article Screen International

Sales Agents, Film Funds Speak at Sarajevo's CineLink

Magazine article Screen International

Sales Agents, Film Funds Speak at Sarajevo's CineLink

Article excerpt

The Sarajevo Film Festival has launched the 13th edition of CineLink (Aug 19-22), a development and financing platform that provides the backbone of its industry section, featuring around 25 projects suited for co-production.

The selection - split between a co-production market and work in progress event - has traditionally focused on Southeast Europe but has opened up in recent years to projects from the Caucasus region, while this year will see two projects from Doha and one from Russia.

"From the very beginning, the Sarajevo Film Festival always aimed to be relevant for the film industry," says Jovan Marjanovic, head of industry at SFF.

And it is, thanks especially to the CineLink Industry Days, which essentially drew the map of the regional film industry - and placed Sarajevo squarely in its centre. As it continues to hone its territorial scope and international import, the overall opinion among industry professionals is that the market's true trends are consistency and quality.

Co-MD of Elle Driver, Eva Diederix, says her company is a fixed presence at CineLink, the only co-production market for Eastern and Southern Europe, because it is an "important opportunity to get updated on all that's new in the region."

To her, the most interesting projects in this year's Works in Progress section are Godless by Ralitza Petrova and The Fixer by Adrian Sitaru (Hooked).

Another prominent project, in the CineLink Co-Production Market, is A Ballad by acclaimed Bosnian director Aida Begic (Snow, Children of Sarajevo). Begic has 30 meetings lined up in Sarajevo but knows that there are still hurdles to overcome in finding potential co-producers.

"I don't have to explain every detail of what I make and who I am, but at my third film I also no longer have access to the various first and second film funds." CineLink, to her, is a necessary step in the financing stage.

For sales agent Nawid Saram, of Wide Management, "the team organizing the industry events is great and they know how to choose projects that fit: independent films with strong artistic elements.

"We know the projects we see here in the production and pre-production phase will have a [distribution] carrier, even if not a commercial carrier."

Wide Management currently has two films screening at SFF that were picked up at CineLink: Bulgarian-Greek co-production The Lesson (playing in the In Focus section) by Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva; and Competition title Panama by Serbia's Pavle Vuckovic, which world premiered in Cannes' Special Screenings sidebar.

To Saram, one CineLink trend lies with the region's young directors, who he feels can be more dynamic and modern than their Western European counterparts, "who don't always present in such interesting ways the impact of social media on young people. Panama is a great example of one that does."

CineLink growth

Eva Hubert of the Hamburg-based film fund FFHSH (Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein) - which spends 15-30% of its budget on international co-productions - adds: "In the first years, there were 25 projects in CineLink, but now the number has reduced, which has made the market even more concentrated and the quality even higher."

Manfred Schmidt, CEO of Germany's MDM film fund (Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung), which extensively co-finances Eastern European films, echoes Hubert: "It's so concentrated you can really meet whomever you want, in pitches, meetings. …

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