Mathilde Pâques • Manager, Brussels Coproduction Market
“The idea was to create a competitive platform for projects in order to favour co-productions”
- We met with the head of the professional event which is this year welcoming 21 international feature film projects in search of co-producers and partners
We met with Mathilde Pâques, who heads up the Brussels Coproduction Market, a professional event which is this year showcasing 21 international feature film projects in search of co-producers and partners.
Cineuropa: What is the Brussels Coproduction Market?
Mathilde Pâques: It’s a co-production market which was founded in 2016 on the initiative of the team behind Un Soir Un Grain, a non-profit organisation which organised the Be Film Festival at the time, and which now organises the Brussels International Film Festival. The idea was to promote and encourage collaborations between European producers and Belgian producers by creating a competitive platform for projects which would favour co-productions.
This year will be the 6th edition of the event. In 2019, the market was split into two sessions: “Gap Financing Sessions”, for projects at a fairly advanced stage of development which have already secured a certain amount of funding and are supported by relatively established producers; and the “Up and Coming Producers” section, which was designed to support emerging producers developing their first or second feature films, who might have already produced a feature-length documentary, but not a fiction film, for example. They’re often first works for the directors too.
Have you developed any specific partnerships this year?
The market is quite European in character, but for several years now we’ve been opening up to “guest” countries. This was the case for Uruguay this year, to go hand in hand with the co-production agreement the country recently signed with the Wallonia Brussels Federation. This was also the case for the projects selected for Halaqat, a multidisciplinary programme devised by Bozar and the Goethe Institute, which sought to strengthen cultural ties between Europe and the Arab world, and which explains the presence of Tunisian, Egyptian and Moroccan projects in the selection.
Since 2021, moreover, we’ve been developing a partnership with the Marseille Music and Film Festival (editor’s note: formerly the Aubagne Festival), which will involve a Music and Film Award. The producer/director duo who wins this award will be selected for the European Musical Film Score Market, unspooling in Marseille in the spring, and will get to meet composers who create musical proposals on the basis of screenplays and directors’ notes of intention. Thanos Psichogios’ Greek project Circular Motion, which is produced by Argonauts Productions, won the award this year. And we’ve also joined the partner network offered by the Coprocity platform.
How many professionals can the market accommodate?
There were roughly 70 attendees (production, programming, sales, distribution) during the pitching sessions, but we mostly recorded impressive numbers of individual meetings: 165 within the market itself. It’s mainly Belgians at present, but we also welcome a number of international sales agents and guests. And we host a presentation of the main Belgian funds, which usually proves fruitful when it comes to foreign producers.
Are you picking up on any trends with the different projects?
In terms of the themes they cover, there are plenty of highly engaged films, lots of social themes, in fact, both in the projects we’ve selected and the ones we received. Gender questions, in particular, are proving pervasive. It’s also important to note that we have an almost equal number of male and female producers, and male and female directors.
Is there a specific frame of mind emerging, after a two-year-long global pandemic?
One thing that’s for sure is that everyone is sick of Zoom meetings and wants to meet in person! We receive a lot of feedback from our participants, who like the fact that the market is on a human scale and that meetings are easy to organise. The relationships created here are more durable because they aren’t limited to individual meetings: people cross paths during meals, cocktail parties, and even under the festival marquee.
Something else we’ve noticed is that almost half of the projects presented to us in 2021 have already made great progress; many of them have signed co-production agreements. There’s doubtless a desire to speed things up or to catch up on lost time.
Which projects stood out for you in the market’s early editions?
I’ll especially remember the Bulgarian film Women Do Cry [+see also:
interview: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
film profile] by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova, which spent time in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section in 2021; Hive [+see also:
interview: Blerta Basholli
interview: Yllka Gashi
film profile] by Kosovar filmmaker Blerta Basholli, which won the three main prizes in Sundance’s World Dramatic Cinema Competition; and the Latvian film Blizzard of Souls [+see also:
film profile] by Dzintars Dreibergs, which achieved great box-office success in Latvia. The director also attended this year’s market with his new project Escape Net.
(Translated from French)
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