FNE at Ji.hlava IDFF 2019: CEE Producers Seek Austrian Partners


    JIHLAVA: Austrian producer Gabriele Kranzelbinder, recipient of the first APA (Czech Producers Association) World Excellence Award presented at the 23rd Ji.hlava IDFF, which runs through 29 October 2019, found herself in demand in a discussion with Slovak and Czech producers on fostering coproductions with Austria.

    Surprisingly, barely a half dozen Slovak films have been made as coproductions with Austria, and only twice as many Czech films were Austrian coproductions in the past two dozen years. The filmmakers acknowledged their shared history, but noted that when it came to seeking coproduction partners, both sides were more likely to look to Germany. On Austria’s side, Kranzelbinder said, it’s a matter of looking for partners who have larger film funding options at their disposal, while, she added, “Austria can disappear in Germany’s shadow” when CEE producers want a German language partner.

    Producers like PubRes’s Zuzana Mistrikova, president of the Slovak Association of Independent Producers, have taken the initiative in establishing a relationship between Slovak and Austrian producers by organising a meeting for producers to introduce themselves to one another last year. Ten years earlier, the situation looked hopeful, when the director of the Vienna Film Fund, Peter Zawrel, actively sought out and encouraged coproduction opportunities with Austria’s CEE neighbours. As Kranzelbinder pointed out, sometimes it can all depend on a single individual. When Zawrel retired from his post, his CEE mission evaporated.

    But finding an Austrian coproduction partner can have its downside. Mistrikova said, “Austrian money is expensive for us,” because it can cost twice as much for the same services in Austria as it costs in Slovakia. Suddenly, the Slovak partners would find themselves becoming the minority partner on their own film.

    The situation could see a shift. The participants of the discussion made a public commitment to organise a meeting of Austrian, Czech and Slovak producers within the scope of an upcoming festival, most likely the Diagonale in Graz. As Mistrikova pointed out, “First we need to get to know each other.”