Emerging filmmakers bring genre twists to Transilvania co-production forum

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Ten projects by first-time and second-time directors seeking European partners were presented this week at Transilvania Pitch Stop, one of the main co-production and co-financing platforms for filmmakers from Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the wider Black Sea. Region.

The ninth edition of the forum reflects a generation of up-and-coming filmmakers seeking to find their voice through deeply personal storytelling, according to Dumitrana Lupu, who recently took over as industry head of the Transilvania Film Festival. “People really write about their personal experiences,” she said. Variety.

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Five of the projects received bespoke script consultation from veteran screenwriter and film consultant Christian Routh, while all film crews were coached by consultant and producer Agathe Berman ahead of their June 23 pitch at a rally. from producers, sales agents, festival programmers and other industry guests.

Launched in 2014 as a five-day workshop for Romanian and Moldovan filmmakers for the first and second time, the Pitch Stop expanded in 2017 to include a co-production platform with projects from countries in the region .

Among the films supported by the TPS since its first edition are “Apples”, by Greek Christos Nikou, which opened the Horizons sidebar at the Venice Film Festival in 2020 and is produced by Cate Blanchett; “La Civil”, by Romanian Teodora Ana Mihai, which won the prize for courage in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival last year; and “Butterfly Vision” by Ukrainian director Maksym Nakonechnyi (pictured), which bowed out in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes this year.

Many of the projects selected for this year’s TPS feature strong genre elements, a sign that young filmmakers from the region are plugged into the growing global demand for sci-fi, horror, fantasy and other brands of storytelling. of gender. It’s a trend the Transilvania Film Festival caught on to last year with the launch of its Full Moon Script Contest, a competition open to Romanian screenwriters developing screenplays in the horror, fantasy, thriller or dark comedy categories.

Among the projects pitched this week in Cluj are “Monarch”, directed by Romanian director Radu Mihai and produced by Livia Rădulescu (Dash Film), which tells the story of a budding superhero at risk of being overwhelmed by his strange new powers. Mihai describes it as “a sort of (post)modern fairy tale with a touch of warm humor and benevolent irony”, which eschews the big bang and big-budget special effects to tell the story of a super -average hero” and how he and others around him can deal with his superpower.

Serbian director Filip Kovacevic’s second feature, ‘Children of the Gods’, is a sci-fi thriller set in a “believably complete dystopian world” that he hopes will add to the growing number of films by European kind. The film is produced by Vukota Antunovic (Beef Production) and Djordje Stankovic (Void Pictures).

The story is set in a desert society that has survived the collapse of a long-forgotten world, where a sacred ritual prompts a young man to question the beliefs of his people and learn the truth about the gods. who destroyed the world of his ancestors. Kovacevic said it was a film “about our modern world that uses a plausible vision of its future to address the age-old fear that lurks beneath all our anxieties – the fear of death”.

In ‘Avanos,’ Greek director Panagiotis Charamis creates what he describes as a ‘neo-Western’ set on the border of Greece and Turkey, where an ex-con returns to his hometown to demand his share from a smuggling operation that he was part of his time behind bars, only to soon realize that the price he has to pay is much higher than expected. The film is produced by Konstantinos Baliotis for 2D2R.

Amid the “magical and raw landscapes” of the Greek region of Thrace, Charamis said he hopes to showcase the “savage beauty of the spaces and the characters of the inhabitants of a country in constant search of its inner salvation”. It’s a film about people under extreme restraint, “in claustrophobic social environments set in large open spaces”, and about characters who “continually struggle against different social, ethical and gender values”.

“40, Maria Luisa Boulevard” is the address in Sofia, Bulgaria, where director Kristina Spassovska grew up. Once full of love and life, the house is now little more than “a hollow apartment full of memories and hovering ghosts – remnants of the people who lived there,” Spassovska said. This family home – abandoned and haunted by the past – is the starting point of the film’s protagonist’s journey to find her missing loved ones.

Spassovska said that “40, Maria Luisa Boulevard”, produced by Maya Vitkova-Kosev (Viktoria Films), is an intimate film – part drama, part mystery, part ghost story, where ghosts provide a touch of levity and a hint of the absurd. “Pigs, fish and roosters in the apartment, flying parrots, witty TV shows and fortune tellers, footage from security cameras, distorted radio signals, virtual tours and photo wallpapers – all of these will allow us to venturing between life and the afterlife, between past and present and understanding how they connect for protagonist Sofia,” said the director. “Dead or alive, a family is still a family, and they are there for the sustain. “

Here are the 10 projects selected for this year’s Transilvania Pitch Stop:

40 Maria Luisa Blvd.
Director: Kristina Spasovska
Country: Bulgaria
Producer: Maya Vitkova-Kosev (Viktoria Films)
Sofia, a 36-year-old Bulgarian, returns to her childhood home for her father’s funeral, where ghostly events begin to unravel the missing pieces of her life.

As the shadows fade
Director: Burcu Aykar
Country: Turkey
Producers: Nadir Öperli (Liman Film), Müge Özen (Solis Film), Anke Petersen (Jyoti Film)
Project awarded at the Rencontres sur le Pont 2022
Trapped by the traditional and heteronormative Turkish family ideal, Esin lives in ignorance of her passions. When she falls in love with the fiery Deniz, a distant friend of the family who takes refuge in their house, their intimacy pushes her to transcend its borders towards a dark place of secrets and heartache.

Avanos
Director: Panagiotis Charamis
Country: Greece
Producer: Konstantinos Baliotis (2D2R)
An ex-con returns to his hometown to demand his part of a smuggling operation he took part in while behind bars, only to quickly realize the price he must pay is much higher. than he expected.

children of the gods
Director: Filip Kovacevic
Country: Serbia
Producers: Vukota Antunovic (Beef Production), Djordje Stankovic (Void Pictures)
In a large desert community that survived the collapse of a long-forgotten world, a sacred ritual prompts a young man to question the beliefs of his people and uncover the truth about the gods who destroyed the world. of his ancestors.

Light
Director: Maxim Baraliuc
Country: Republic of Moldova
Producer: Ana Volosinovici, Sergiu Budici (MADS)
In a world shrouded in endless darkness, life’s only sanctuary is a small village sitting beneath a narrow beam of light. Joh – a young villager believes his world is slowly dying, so he ventures into the dangers of darkness to save his people.

lo-fi
Director: Alican Durbaş
Country: Turkey
Producer: Ipek Erden (Vayka Film)
On a morning when everything in the flat is packed in boxes, Emre (29) revisits his bittersweet memories of their first days there with Defne (29), walking in the footsteps of their past relationship. At the end of the day, he finally embraces the present as he moves out and moves on.

Monarch
Director: Radu Mihai
Country: Romania
Producer: Livia Radulescu (Dash Film)
A young man has a superpower: he can block electrical circuits. But his own power is in danger of overpowering him, as everyone secretly protects him.

Psycho-sexual thoughts
Director: Balint Bagossy
Country: Hungary
Producer: Mónika Mécs (Inforg-M&M Film, Freeszfe Society)
A film where everyone talks about sex, but no one really has sex.

Sasha Oleksanda
Director: Andrii Ivaniuk
Country: Ukraine
Producer: Volodymyr Filippov (Insightmedia)
Wanting to have a full-fledged family with children and learning about her pregnancy, Sasha tries to leave the child, regardless of the circumstances. Even if her husband, a law enforcement officer, categorically opposes it and does everything not to have children.

Where are the elephants going?
Director: Gabi Șarga, Cătălin Rotaru
Country: Romania
Producer: Gabriela Suciu-Pădurețu (Green Cat Film, Atelier de Film)
A mother, who prostitutes herself for her cancer-stricken daughter, finds love with a confused and depressed young man.

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