French producers meet Central Europeans at new Balkan event

By Pavlina Jeleva

    Two days of “Meetings on the Lake” brought together French and Central European producers during the first Macedonian festival of French films taking place in Ohrid the first week in July, on the initiative of ESRA audiovisual school director Max Azoulay.

    French producers Christian Ardan, Jean Claude Beineix, Serge Touboul, Eric Porcher, Francois Cohen-Seat, Michel Alexandre, Frederic Leconte, and Alain Mayor had consecutive meetings with Karla Stojakova and Ivana Axmanova (Axman productions) from the Czech Republic, Bulgarian production company Geopoly, and the director of the freshly installed Macedonian Film Fund Dejan Iliev. A small group of local production companies including Kaval Film, T-rex, Manifacture, Triangle, and the Skopje-based director Antonio Mitrikeski were also present. In all, 40 French film personalities were present, including director Claude Lelouch.

    "It was great to meet with the French producers, because it was small and you really had time to talk," Axman producer Stojakova told FNE. "For me it was excellent."

    In addition to concrete projects, the possibility of unifying financial resources and film support systems in Western, Central and Eastern Europe was discussed. Their goal is to foster future co-productions between EU members and candidate states. Bulgaria and Romania will to play a key role in the process, and Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Slovakia are expected to get more involved as natural bridges between Eastern and Western Europe.

    The new head of the Macedonian Film Fund plans to support four or five feature films per year, with up to 500,000 Euros. To accomplish the ambitious goal, co-producers from France and near neighbors Bulgaria and Romania are being actively courted. Bulgaria supported the co-production Shadows by Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski. In return, Macedonia plans to support the Bulgarian film Mission London, a debut feature film by Dimitar Mitovski, and a U.K. co-production.