Italian-Balkan Co-Productions and Distribution Synergies Formed the Focus of Discussions at the Balkan Film Festival in Rome

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An annual brainstorming event aimed at encouraging collaborations between the Italian and Balkan film industries, providing crucial information on the opportunities available in the field and how to make the most of them: this is how the Balkan Film Festival would like to see itself, according to Mario Bova, who’s the director of the gathering dedicated to movies from the Balkans, which celebrated its sixth edition in Rome between 7 and 12 November (read our news). It’s not just a place to discover films, in this sense, it’s also a place for discussion: “The festival could play a facilitator role as an ongoing forum for dialogue between Italy and the various Balkan states”, Bova explained, “to raise awareness amongst those operating within the entire sector and to make best use of the funding coming from Europe on both a development and production level”.

Italian-Balkan co-productions and distribution synergies formed the focus of various speeches in the international workshop “La Via del cinema”, starting with the potential support put forward by Europe which, according to Bova, “could lead to some interesting results, if viewed with greater confidence by operators”. After the welcome given by Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advisor Cristina Caputo, who referenced the co-production agreement between Italy and Serbia, which was signed in Belgrade back in March, it was the turn of Enrico Bufalini and Maria Cristina Lacagnina – representing Creative Europe Media – to take to the floor, explaining the funding schemes available for audiovisual content promoting collaboration between countries with greater and lesser production capabilities. The Balkan countries fall within the latter category and, as a result, have more opportunities to access a variety of funds, such as the European Mini-Slate Development Fund, to help them develop a catalogue of 2 to 3 projects (the new call for submissions will be published on 5 December 2023, closing on 4 April 2024).

Speaking via video link, executive vice-director of Eurimages (a fund which 11 Balkan countries are signed up to) Enrico Vannucci stressed the concept of co-production between different countries as pivotal in its member organisations’ activities, reminding attendees of its 26-million-euro budget, its 3 annual calls (the next deadline for submissions being January 2024), its soft loans mechanism (reimbursed according to the revenue generated by the films once distributed) and its promotional initiatives, such as the Coproduction Development Awards.

More timely and effective collaboration between the Italian film commissions and the Balkans’ national film centres is just one of the paths envisaged in order to bring about more incisive dialogue. Chris Marcich, representing the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, spoke to this effect, emphasising the need for greater interaction between professionals and for an institutional initiative to bring producers from both sides of the Adriatic together. Marcich spoke of the collaboration already underway between Italy, Croatia and Germany on the high-budget TV series project Greater Adria, which is set to be shot in 2024 and which intends to draw on the support offered by a Eurimages pilot programme for series, which is set to be launched next year. The Croatian professional also highlighted a critical issue in the distribution of Italian films in Croatia, which aren’t at all forthcoming, much opposed to their French counterparts.

Jonid Jorgy (Creative Industries Tirana), for his part, took to the stage to discuss Albania, focusing on the question of distribution and on an important initiative launched this year by the national Film Office and the Municipality of Tirana: a plan to revive movie theatres which have been abandoned for over thirty years and to make them available for screening arthouse films by Albanian, Italian, Balkan and European authors. According to Montenegrin director and producer Aleksandar Vujović (New Standard Media), the time is right for the film commissions and the film centres to create a communal fund aimed at encouraging the circulation of Italian films in the Balkans and vice versa. Vujović also reminded us of the importance of the Balkan Film Market as a place of exchange and networking for sector professionals. Slovenian director and director of photography Gregor Bozic stressed the need to also see co-productions as opportunities for authors to connect with creative people, rather than viewing them from a purely financial standpoint. Furthermore, based on his experience with his film Stories from the Chestnut Woods [+], which was successfully distributed in Japan following an artisanal-style promotional campaign initiated six months ahead of time, Bozic speculated over a return to a more intimate way of promoting films to potential audiences.

Source : Cineurope