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Willows wins the MIDPOINT HBO Europe Award


- Playgirl picked up the Marseille Web Fest Award at the final workshop of this year’s edition, which was held during Sarajevo’s CineLink Drama

Willows wins the MIDPOINT HBO Europe Award
The creative team behind the HBO Europe Award winner, Willows (l-r: Julie Žáčková, Milada Těšitelová and Jan Těšitel), along with the co-writer of the web series Playgirl and MWF Award winner Marijana Verhoef

This year’s MIDPOINT TV Launch programme organised its final workshop and showcase during the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival and its CineLink Drama industry strand, where 22 participants came along to present their six TV projects and three web series (see the news). Sarajevo was the last stop on a lengthy nine-month training programme that saw two other residential workshops take place beforehand: one in the Slovak Republic in November, exploring the concept of the series and the pilot scripts; and another at the Finale Plzen Film Festival in spring, which was dedicated to completing the pilots, and creating season outlines and financing strategies.

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Starting with the HBO Europe Award, which comes with a prize of $5,000 granted by HBO Czech Republic, this was bestowed upon the Czech project Willows, directed by Jan Tesitel, written by Milada Tesitelova and produced by Julie Zackova. The series is a story about immortal beings, called the Willows, who look just like regular people but spend their days indulging in mind-numbing decadence. These beings are keeping captive young Anezka’s beloved groom, who died on the day of their wedding. When he returns from the dead, Anezka overcomes her initial surprise and aims to free him from this cult.

Steve Matthews, HBO Europe VP and executive producer of drama development, and a development executive tutor at TV Launch, handed out the award and commented upon the decision: “This year’s winner stood out for its breadth of imagination, distinctive quirky and poetical style, and colourful, memorable characters displayed through an obviously personal lens; for its heart and its attractive and intriguing supernatural backdrop; and for its powerfully atmospheric sense of place. We often hear in pitches that ‘the city is a character’, and it’s rarely true. But here, there shines through a real sense of the team’s obvious love for their home city of Prague.”

The other prize at the event, the Marseille Web Fest Award, which invites one person from the creative team of the winning web series project to participate in the Marseille Web Fest writing residence – which this year runs from 14-19 October – went to the Slovak-Serbian project Playgirl, written by Michaela Pňačeková and Marijana Verhoef. The story is set in Berlin, where two young women, one a tomboy gamer and the other a romantic sociopath, develop an unusual, quasi-mother-daughter relationship full of drugs, sex and video games.

MIDPOINT TV Launch is the only residential, project-based programme targeted at developing and training emerging television professionals coming from Central and Eastern Europe, and it’s worth noting that it is the only one that accepts short forms of digital/web series as well as ongoing series projects. The call for applications for MIDPOINT TV Launch 2020 will open in October, with the deadline set for 31 January 2020.

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