CoCo Celebrates 15 Years of Pitching Coproductions


    PRAGUE: From its modest yet aspirational beginnings in 1999, Connecting Cottbus has emerged as the leading pitching platform for CEE filmmakers, with numbers to back up this claim.

    This November, the Sorbian city of Cottbus on the Eastern edge of Germany will bring together CEE and West European filmmakers for the 15th time.

    In 1999 the Cottbus Film Festival, then marking its 10th anniversary under artistic director Roland Rust, was in search of an industry element to solidify its position as a launching pad for CEE films. Gabriele Brunnenmeyer was engaged to expand an initial networking event (introducing just five CEE film projects) into a coproduction platform, and stayed at the helm until 2011, when Bernd Buder took over as director. Twelve projects are selected to pitch each year, with a 13th guest spot reserved for the production team behind the previous year’s winner of the Cottbus Film Festival. The platform has attracted the region’s most exciting young talents and launched productions that have gone on to critical acclaim.

     “Eastern European projects face especially high hurdles in gaining access to international markets,” Buder noted. Connecting Cottbus (affectionately known as CoCo) has been instrumental in breaking down those barriers, by attracting a choice array of West European producers, buyers and funders to network with their creative CEE counterparts.

    The results point to CoCo’s success. Buder told FNE, “There have been five CoCo films which have run or will run in the competitions of renowned international film festivals” in 2013, while other earlier films have made their way into distribution in Germany. Of the 173 films pitched at CoCo, 53 have been completed and another 11 are in production.

    Competition to pitch at CoCo is fierce. One Czech-based filmmaker, who won the CoCo pitching award just a few years earlier, told FNE that his new project did not make the cut. Aside from the pitching opportunity, CoCo’s pitching award, worth 25,000 EUR in post-production services, is another draw.

    FNE will cover all 13 projects pitched at Connecting Cottbus, which runs 7-8 November 2013.