FNE at connecting cottbus 2021: Projects from FNE Partner Countries at cocoPITCH


    COTTBUS: Nine projects from FNE partner countries are among the 14 cocoPITCH projects showcased at the 23rd edition of connecting cottbus (coco), the East-West coproduction market at FilmFestival Cottbus, held in a hybrid format 3-5 November 2021.

    FNE Partner Countries Projects at Coco Pitch:

    The Bomber (Lithuania, Latvia) coco Award (Midpoint Feature Launch)
    Directed by Pauls Ķesteris
    Produced by Film Office Latvia
    Coproduced by Mistrus Media
    Supported by the National Film Centre of Latvia, the State Culture Capital Foundation, Creative Europe MEDIA (all development support)

    In 1997, a far-right terrorist attempts to blow up a Soviet monument, leaving his teenage daughter Austra to pick up the pieces. While being under investigation, Austra needs to navigate between the love for her fugitive father and the terrifying truth about the bombing and its aftermath. Gatis Mūrnieks penned the script.

    "I have previously developed several big historical narratives of the 20th century and personal Cold War stories, which have all been inspired by true events as is the story of The Bomber. And for me it is interesting because it reveals the emotional experience of the daughter of the far-right terrorist. I believe this film will appeal to audiences interested in both: crime stories and contemporary European history”, producer Inese Boka-Grūbe said during the pitching.

    The estimated budget is 1,050,000 EUR, of which 40,130 EUR are already in place.

    Producers are looking for coproducers (particularly from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Nordic countries), as well as sales.

    The Ways We Look at the Sun (Romania) Transilvania Pitch Stop - coco Award
    Directed by Ioana Turcan
    Produced by Studioset Production
    Coproduced by Anchor Films
    Supported by the Romanian Film Centre (CNC) (development support)

    Two inseparable twin sisters suffering from epilepsy grow apart when one of them becomes a mother and experiences what freedom looks like without symptoms. Ioana Turcan penned the script.

    “The main purpose of the story is to explore the intimacy of a relationship between two twin sisters, their strong bond of mirroring each other, but also the challenge of getting to know oneself without this constant connection, of moving beyond it through a late coming-of-age process”, the director said in a statement.

    "I was deeply moved by the story, by the way life and death crossed paths in the most unexpected way, taking us on a journey at the end of which we find that peace and completeness might look totally different from what we had expected", producer Ana Maria Pirvan said during the pitching.

    The estimated budget is 700,000 EUR, of which 13,428 EUR are secured.

    The project is looking for coproducers (especially from France, Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Serbia), as well as financing partners, feedback and sales.

    Smaragda (Cyprus)
    Directed by Emilios Avraam
    Produced by Bark Like A Cat Films
    Supported by the Cyprus Cinema Advisory Committee (development and production support)

    Smaragda (46), a former kids TV host, is forced to get her life back on track and starts working in a tourist resort while exploring the world of social media. Dealing with the recent death of her mother and her personal relationships, she goes through a journey of self-discovery.

    "The film explores the topic of success, which is something that has troubled me in the past years, being afraid of being forgotten, being afraid of not being enough, and at the same time reminding me that the real legacy we leave behind, is something smaller but bigger at the same time”, writer/director Emilios Avraam said during the pitching.

    “Emilios Avraam’s debut feature Smaragda is a social drama, a female-driven film presented through the eyes of a male writer/director whose sensitive and emotional writing gives another dimension to the main character”, producer Tonia Mishiali said in a statement.

    The estimated budget is 707,700 EUR, of which 375,000 EUR are already secured.

    The project is looking for coproducers, financiers, sales and distributors.

    Happiness (Poland)
    Directed by Marta Minorowicz  
    Produced by IKH Pictures Production
    Supported by the Polish Film Institute (development support)

    Maria (53), a deeply religious woman from the Ukraine, lives and works as a caretaker in Warsaw. She dreams of bringing her family to Poland. When she inherits the large apartment of her late employer, her prayers seem to be answered. But is there a price to pay for extraordinary happiness?

    "I really like films which rather ask questions than give answers and films where silence is not just a tool of sound design but also a tool to convey a mystery. I would like to make such a film as well", director Marta Minorowicz, who wrote the script together with Piotr Borkowski, said during the pitching.

    “The project is at an early stage of development and we received development support from the Polish Film Institute. We would like to find a Ukrainian coproducer who could also suggest a Ukrainian actress for the leading role, but we are open to other European countries for production and artistic contribution as well. The shooting is currently planned for 2023”, producer Izabela Kiszka-Hoflik said.

    The estimated budget is 1 m EUR, of which 85,000 EUR are in place.

    We Haven’t Met (Belarus, Russia, Poland)
    Directed by Darya Zhuk
    Produced by Kairos Films
    Coproduced by Extreme Emotions
    Supported by Kinoprime Film Fund (private equity)

    The stories of three women overlap during one fateful day in Minsk: apolitical Anna looks for her son who has gone missing after clashing with the police; young mother Masha risks her family to organise a dangerous female protest in the city centre; teenager Lida, the daughter of a policeman, fights to be accepted by her politically-minded friends.

    "My co-writer and I took historical events of one day and shaped them into a universal story that follows three Belarus women searching for truth and identity surrounded by chaos and trauma. This film is also about the feeling of solidarity and unity of the people, about what we share when we fight for the common cause, said Darya Zhuk during the coco pitchings. She co-wrote the script together with Kira Olshevsky.

    “We are in the financing stage оf the project with the script fully developed and casting now underway. We are planning to shoot in the summer of 2022 and would like to work together with partners to raise the other 50% of the budget”, producer Iva Stromilova said.

    The estimated budget is 1,050,000 EUR, of which 580,000 EUR are already in place.

    The project is looking for coproducers (especially from Germany, France, the Czech Republic or the Baltic states), as well as sales and festivals.

    China Sea (Lithuania, Italy)
    Directed by Jurgis Matulevičius
    Produced by Film Jam
    Coproduced by 010 Films
    Supported by Lithuanian Film Centre (development support),

    Disqualified from sports, martial arts champion Osvaldas struggles to live his life without a fight. Trying to rediscover himself and to find love, he gets entangled in a criminal world that turns his hope of a good life into yet another escalation of violence. Saulė Bliuvaitė penned the script.

    "In all of my films, I like to look deeper into controversial moral dilemmas and personalities. Such a controversial figure is Osvaldas, the protagonist of our film. He's a personalised symbol of individual and collective agressions of the 21st century", director Jurgis Matulevičius said during the pitching.

    China Sea is based on a strong and dark male character. And what we aim to achieve is a deeper insight into a man’s world. (...) We are in late development and have recently been selected for ScripTeast. The principal photography is planned to start in late autumn of 2022”, said producer Ieva Černiauskaitė.

    The budget is 1,331,292 EUR, of which 48,300 EUR are already secured.

    The producers are looking for coproducers (from anywhere, and especially from Poland and the Ukraine), distributor, sales.

    Virgins (Croatia, North Macedonia)
    Directed by Dora Šustić
    Produced by Antitalent
    Coproduced by List Production
    Supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Center (HAVC)

    In a psychiatric hospital on a tiny Croatian island, a simple and naïve virgin in her late 30s befriends an addict in rehab, who encourages her to explore her sexuality and eventually own her womanhood.

    "The story was with me for a very long time. In the beginning I was inspired by a real person. Over the years the story became much deeper, much more intimate and personal. It is an exploration of desire, of pain and pleasure, and how one can move from self destruction into space of tenderness and self-love", said writer/director Dora Šustić during the pitching.

    “For authenticity reasons, we plan to work with a non-actress for the main role and shoot in real locations (...).The financing plan is based on a coproduction with one stronger, Western country like France or Germany, and one or two countries in the Balkan region. We are waiting for the results of project development funding in Croatia and plan to start with production in Q4 of 2023”, said producer Maja Pek-Brünjes.

    The budget is 770,400 EUR, of which 24,679 EUR are already in place.

    The project is looking for coproducers (especially from France, Germany or other Western European countries), as well as financing, sales, distribution and feedback.

    The White Mare (Slovakia)
    Directed by Teodor Kuhn
    Produced by Filmaari s.r.o.
    Supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund (development support)

    After social services threaten to take her little sister away from their alcoholic father, a street-smart girl from a poor family gets the money to provide for her by becoming a front for a local mobster.

    "I found the spine of the story in forgiveness. The most important and emotional part is when the daughter forgives her father. A daughter who has every reason to feel betrayed and unloved, forgives a father who rediscovers his purpose and tries to redeem himself. This forgiveness is what makes the story worthy of being told", writer/director Teodor Kuhn said during the pitching.

    “We have a long-term partnership with the writer and director Teodor Kuhn. We believe that his new film has wide international potential, appealing to young millennials and general art house audiences alike. With its raw and natural style, it is a very realistic look into the mind of a teenage girl and the greatest challenge in her life to date”, said producer Miroslav Gerbel.

    The budget is 725,000 EUR, of which 17,000 are secured.

    The project is looking for coproducers (particularly from the Czech Republic, the Ukraine or any Balkan country), as well as distributors and sales.

    She (Poland)
    Directed by Agnieszka Zwiefka  
    Produced by Harine Films
    Supported by the Polish Film Institute (development support), Fixafilm (in-kind support)

    The perfectly organised life of an invisible 50-year-old woman turns upside down when her favourite tree is felled and she starts a lonely protest, soon followed by more radical steps to be seen.

    "The overall tone of the film I see as being similar to Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul: very realistic, yet at the same time dreamy, with elements of very subtle magical realism, especially when the Galapagos tortoises she watches on TV seem to interact with her, becoming silent companions, or her alter egos. Just as the woman, they may be slow and introvert, but persistent, ready to survive even in a very harsh environment", writer/director Agnieszka Zwiefka said during the pitching.

    “The project has already been supported by the Polish Film Institute for development and we are going to apply for funding from the Media Development programme. For production, apart from the Polish Film Institute, we would like to use two regional funds (Mazovia and Odra), as well as Canal+. The last element in the financing plan will be Eurimages. We plan to start shooting in the autumn of 2022”, said producer Izabela Igel.

    The estimated budget is 980,000 EUR, of which 160,000 EUR are in place.

    The project is looking for coproducers from Germany, Scandinavia, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, as well as sales.