REPORT: Balkan Film Market Pitch Balkan 2017
by Vassilis Economou
We take a closer look at the winners and other projects presented during the first edition of the Balkan Film Market’s main pitching event, Pitch Balkan
Aiming to offer exposure to projects from the region, the first edition of the Balkan Film Market introduced its main pitching event, Pitch Balkan, which took place on 5 October. Ten fiction and three documentary projects (all feature lengths) hailing from seven countries, and represented by their directors and the attached producers, competed to secure one of the BFM’s awards. The conditions that a project had to meet in order to be part of the pitching session were to have already secured 20% of its financing and to be conducting further searches for co-producers from the Balkan region and abroad. The selection of the winners was made by attending producers and delegates who voted for the best pitches, and who could also book one-on-one meetings with the participants. The session was coordinated by Monika Franczak.
The three winners of the first Pitch Balkan were:
Snow White Dies in the End – Kristijan Risteski (writer and director) (Macedonia)
This film follows a number of people from the Balkans who fall in love, keep their word and maintain their friendships as they pursue happiness. It is being produced by Darko Popov (Vertigo Visuals) and is supported by the Macedonian Film Agency.
Sunburn – Slobodanska Radun (Czech Republic/Croatia)
A British family on holiday in Croatia is forced to share their villa with a young couple from the local area. Sexual and psychological tensions will unfold over the summer they spend there. It is being produced by Danny Holman (Bionaut).
There Will Be Hell to Pay – Gvozden Djurić (Serbia)
This movie unfurls the true story of a family that, ever since they lost all of their money, have decided to lock themselves in their flat for ten days instead of going on holiday. It is being produced by Uros Tomić (Rooftop Party Pictures) and is supported by Radio Television of Vojvodina.
The rest of the fiction films presented at Pitch Balkan were:
Dajna – Christos Netsos (Albania)
This debut feature follows a young Albanian woman who lives in the northern part of the country, which is more conservative and secluded. She decides to challenge both traditions and her family. It is being produced by Ermir Keta (Anima Pictures).
Emily K - Ajola Daja (writer and director) (Albania)
The project deals with the titular Emily, who is being hospitalised after being violently physically abused. Her son is kidnapped by her abusive husband, although when Emily wakes up, she can’t recall anything. It is being produced by Iris Elezi and is supported by the Albanian National Center of Cinematography.
Fireflies – Artur Gorishti (writer and director) (Albania/Italy)
We follow a very old man who is in search of redemption as he returns to his own memories while seeking forgiveness from people he harmed in the past. It is being staged by Alessandro D'Alessandro (4 Rooms Film).
Hana – Ujkan Hysaj (Kosovo)
Sara is an actress who tries to relive her past as she steps into the shoes of the heroine of a film, Hana, who, like herself, was raped during the Kosovo War. It is being produced by Kushtrim Koliqi and is supported by the Kosova Cinematography Center.
Mati – Daphne Schmon (written by Emily Carlton) (Greece)
A young widow travels back to the island of Corfu to deal with her loss. There, her grandmother will introduce her to black magic, also known as Kako Mati. It is being staged by Emily Carlton (Seek Films).
The Satellites – Nenad Mikalacki (Serbia)
This arthouse title aims to portray the self-destruction and salvation of the Serbian post-war generation. It is being produced by Nevena Savić (Cinnamon Films) and is supported by Film Center Serbia.
Yatagan – Vladimir Borisov (Bulgaria)
A police inspector decides to accuse an innocent young man of being a terrorist but later collaborates with him to steal money from government bodies. It is being staged by Christo Dermendjiev (A-Plus Films) and is supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center.
Finally, the three documentary projects were:
Past Collectors – Gabriella Nikolić (Serbia)
This doc explores the traumas of the Holocaust as the granddaughter of a survivor meets the grandson of a concentration-camp commander. It is being produced by Nikolić (G358 Production), and is supported by Film Center Serbia and the Jewish Historic Museum of Belgrade.
What Killed the Architect – Mathieu Jouffre (Kosovo)
A documentary that focuses on Rexhep Luci, an architect who was in charge of a plan to urbanise Pristina after the 1999 war and was found murdered in his flat. It is being staged by Besa Luci (MB Office) and is supported by the Kosova Cinematography Center.
Y1 – The Silence of the Deep – Philippos Vardakas (Greece)
The project centres on the discovery of a sunken war ship that was lost on the seabed for seven decades. It is being produced by Stelios Efstathopoulos (FAOS TV Productions).