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KARLOVY VARY 2020 KVIFF Eastern Promises

Hugo Rosák, Lenka Tyrpáková • Responsabile Film Industry Office e programmatrice, Karlovy Vary IFF

"Quello che stiamo vivendo ora è il lasciarci i 'vecchi modi' alle spalle"

di 

- Abbiamo parlato con Hugo Rosák, responsabile del Film Industry Office del KVIFF, e con la programmatrice Lenka Tyrpáková di cosa c'è da aspettarsi dall'edizione online di Eastern Promises

Hugo Rosák, Lenka Tyrpáková  • Responsabile Film Industry Office e programmatrice, Karlovy Vary IFF
Hugo Rosák e Lenka Tyrpáková al Festival di Les Arcs

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While the 55th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has been put on hold owing to the pandemic – save for a four-day event in November (see the news) and KVIFF at Your Cinema (see the news), featuring 16 films screened at 96 Czech cinemas – its industry section, Eastern Promises Industry Days, is kicking off online today and will unspool until 8 July. “That’s life,” sums up Film Industry Office head Hugo Rosák. “It’s all about unexpected surprises.” We chatted to him and programmer Lenka Tyrpáková to find out more.

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Cineuropa: Although this year’s edition has been postponed, Eastern Promises Industry Days is heading online. Did you have some time to see what worked with similar events?
Hugo Rosák:
We quickly saw that it was doable, and this awareness was helpful, for sure. We knew that industry experts wouldn’t be able to travel, but we had already had similar discussions in regard to climate change. It’s not the same, and you certainly don’t feel the same energy, but it’s important to support the projects. So the question was more about working with the pitches or the actual design of things. “How do we make it engaging?” We got lucky, having had enough time to prepare and see how others were doing it. I don’t know if we will present people with an ideal product, but thanks to our partners, including Czech Television, it will be more like a TV show. Which is certainly strange!

Was there anything you had to limit because of the switch?
HR:
We kept all of the presentations, but we had to change the content of the programme in a way – also because the Cannes Marché du Film happened one week before ours. I was thinking: “No one will want to watch another online panel about anything, including COVID-19.” We decided to be modest and do what we could to help these projects, without dwelling on having all of this heavy content. We did a pre-panel, though, about alternative distribution strategies, and decided to do one thing for our local industry. [During Industry Here] we will talk about what we have learnt and try to focus on the positives. Because if this comes back, have we changed our ways? We will do it in person, as in Prague you can hang out again. There will be real people in a real room.

When it came to the projects, were you looking for anything specific? During one of the Cannes panels, it was suggested that, from the distributors’ perspective, there is less demand for drama at the moment.
Lenka Tyrpáková:
Journalists are always looking for themes among the selected titles [laughs]. We try to have as much variety as possible: we have different genres, countries and more Middle Eastern projects than ever. It’s difficult to name just a few titles, but from Tunisia and Luxembourg, we have Black Medusa – a thriller about a lonely video editor who wanders around in bars at night, hunting men. From Georgia, we have a feature debut called Field, depicting harsh reality by using specific humour, and planned to be 200 minutes long. Its first five minutes might be the most surprising at this year’s presentations, and its pitch… Let’s just say that it’s quite original. The director is holding bamboo sticks, and then there is even a gun involved! We also have a Lithuanian-Czech romantic thriller called Runner, and in Docs in Progress, there is The Pawnshop, about a couple of entrepreneurs who run the biggest pawnshop in Poland. It could be a social drama, but the director has a great sense for comedy. Or the similarly entertaining Until the Wedding, a bittersweet depiction of a marriage story. There is more humour than usual, but it’s always about this search for quality and “gently edgy” projects that resonate with us.

HR: I also enjoyed the Eurimages selection – it’s fun to see so much creativity in one place. Each chunk of the programme already has a specific focus: Works in Progress includes feature-length films from the region, then we have documentaries or the Eurimages Lab Project, focusing on non-traditional formats. Maybe that’s the theme: the region! This year, we invited the projects to also be creative with their pitches, and not just stand there and say things. I actually wish we could do more of it in the future. What we are experiencing now is about leaving the “old ways” behind – suddenly, you enter people’s homes with your project. And maybe, for many professionals, this is what they prefer?

We already know that pitching sessions and panels can take place online, but is it enough for people to decide to collaborate together? Or do they still need to “smell” each other first?
HR:
If you look at the figures from Cannes, it seems they had the best market in a long time. But to me, this idea that you see someone on the screen and end up collaborating is still a bit weird. For our projects, it’s also about meeting festivals, and that can be done. But to talk money? I don’t know. Maybe I am just old-fashioned.

I am so curious to see how this is going to play out. Not just for us, but for the whole industry as well. You still need people to connect somehow and have a drink. That’s something that Zoom can’t really do for you. Until now, the work hasn’t been that different. It’s just that you don’t get to meet, and it takes away some of the joy, especially if you are a people person like Lenka. It’s good to see that we can do it. But it will feel strange to switch off my computer after the last pitch and be like: “Ok, so that’s done.”

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