How Tricks did the trick – and what comes after

By Jorn Rossing Jensen in Warsaw
    "Film from Eastern Europe are still overlooked, undervalued, badly promoted and - with noble exceptions - play only a marginal, if any, role in the international art house and television markets."

    "This is a situation we want to change," said market director Rik Vermeulen, of the CentEast Market Warsaw at the Warsaw International Film Festival, which wll open its fourth session on Wednesday, October 15.

    200 European buyers, distributors, producers, and festival programmers have registered for the five-day market and a programme of recent Eastern European features (11), works-in-progresss (almost completed, full-length versions: 6), works-in-progress (trailers: 13), and Polish shorts (5). Screenings are scheduled in four auditoria at Warsaw's Palace of Culture.

    Focussing on productions from Belarus, Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine, the CentEast Market also includes a panel exploring case story of Polish director Andrzej Jakimowski's Tricks, an Eastern European film which found the ticket for world distribution.

    Also internationally promoted by the Warsaw festival, Tricks has been licensed to more than 20 territories - the best result since the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski in 1980-1990s. How it was done will be disclosed by Jakimowski, m-appeal sales agent Maren Kroymann, Dutch distributor Rene Wolf of Filmmuseum Amsterdam, and festival chief Stefan Laudyn.

    According to Vermeulen, the market has increased the presentations of works-in-progress, yet reduced the number of countries in focus; there are no slots for projects in development, unless they screen in almost completed full-length versions, or as trailers. "However, with the upcoming Eastern European productions we are not short of product."

    "The Polish Film Institute expects 60 Polish features to be finished during 2008 and 2009, and in the Russian Federation well over 100 features are currently before the cameras. Romanian cinema promises to reach unknown heights in 2009. Quality is emphasised by new films released no earlier than June," Vermeulen explained.

    The selection for market screenings includes Polish director Malgorzata Szumowski's 33 Scenes from Life, a Polish-German co-production, which won the Silver Leopard in Locarno; Russian director Aleksei Uchitel's Captive, which garnered him the Best Director prize in Karlovy Vary; and Slovak director Juraj Nvota's Music, a local top grosser and winner of nine local awards.

    Some entries have previously unspooled at Gdynia (Poland) and Varna (Bulgaria) but not yet been released internationally: Bulgarian director Svetoslav Ovtcharov's Farewell to Hemingway, Polish directors Waldear Krzystek's Little Moscow, and Kasia Adamik's The Offsiders. Horizontal 8, by Poland's Grzegorz Lipiec, will have its world premiere in Warsaw.

    For more information and a complete schedule, go to the FNE Events section.