FNE at Connecting Cottbus 2012: Cottbus Pitches a Strong Field of Contenders


    COTTBUS: Projects from Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Kyrgyzstan generated strong interest at the 14th edition of Connecting Cottbus, also known informally as CoCo (www.connecting-cottbus.de).

    “I think for the whole group of participants in CoCo, it was a very inspiring session, with a strong belief that a lot of those projects will turn into films,” Connecting Cottbus director Bernd Buder told FNE. “The projects were very original, with strong stories, a clear vision of dramaturgy, and well prepared production concepts. The presenters were quite clear about what they’re looking for and what they need.”

    Producer Judit Stalter of Hungary’s Lakoon Film (www.lakoonfilm.com) told FNE that she had a total of 14 meetings for Kills on Wheels, a story about a group of disabled bank robbers directed by Attila Till. Polish director Bartek Konopka, who attracted international attention with his documentary Rabbit a la Berlin, and producer Anna Wydra of Otter Films (www.otterfilms.pl) counted 10 meetings, including interest from the Torino Film Lab and two Czech production companies for their medieval epic The Mute.

    Further afield, the quirky UK/Kyrgyz project Lenin?! booked 13 meetings, including one with the Macedonian Film Fund. An intensely moving Serbian project, A Good Wife featuring acclaimed actress Mirjana Karnovic who also makes her directing debut with the film, signed 10 meetings, including Poland’s New Europe Film Sales (www.neweuropefilmsales.com).

    Debuting film director Renars Vimba from Latvia told FNE he was pleased with the response to his coming-of-age film Mellow Mud for Tasse Film (www.tasse.lv). “I was told to expect just a few meetings, as a first time director,” he told FNE. The film had 11 meetings scheduled.

    Buder noted that a new generation and crop of funders were attending the 2012 edition of the forum. They included Fatos Berisha, director of the Kosova Cinematography Center (www.qkk-rks.com) who signed up for meetings with film projects from Georgia, Latvia, and Turkey. Darko Basheski, CEO of the Macedonian Film Fund (www.filmfund.gov.mk) told FNE, “We want to give equal support to minority coproductions, and we want more films to apply to our film fund.” He scheduled meetings with projects from Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Gerogia, and Russia.

    Two Czech production companies were actively seeking coproductions: Evolution Films (www.evolutionfilms.cz), whose producer Pavel Bercik has already come onboard as a minority coproducer on two films; and Lucky Man Films (www.luckymanfilms.com).

    Bernd told FNE that following last year’s record-breaking 113 projects submitted for Connecting Cottbus, submissions were back down to more normal levels. “There are fewer projects on the way at the moment, due to the situation in funding,” he said.

    However, Connecting Cottbus already knows the first production company that will pitch at the 2013 edition: the winners of the Cottbus Film Festival’s main prize, for Women’s Day directed by Maria Sadowska from Munk Studio (www.studiomunka.pl) the hugely successful Polish studio for the development of young film talent backed by the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl) that has produced a string of successes. Sadowska’s prize includes an invitation to CoCo.