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Co-production Forum


Balkan Fund

Salonica Studio
Balkan Fund

Artistic Director: Christina Kallas
Coordinator: Lucia Rikaki
Assistant: Angeliki Vergou

In the last few years, more and more films begin their career by receiving development grants within the framework of a film festival-a career which often completes its cycle by premiering at the very same festival.The importance of script development to the artistic and commercial success of a film project is a long-acknowledged fact. Development is an area which, although much less costly than production itself, always needs support, especially in the southeast of Europe, which has almost no development funding schemes.

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival has therefore initiated the Balkan Fund, which operates in coordination with other well-known and established film festival funds and addresses a geographical area which is not fully covered by any other festival fund: the Balkans or South-Eastern Europe, specifically, Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, FYROM,Greece, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Turkey.The festival of the historically multicultural Thessaloniki supports filmmakers from this region in their efforts to develop their projects as professionally as possible.

The Balkan Fund thus aspires to support the filmmaking process in what has historically been one of the most explosive regions of modern-day Europe, a region full of stories waiting to be told.

After the success of the films Grbavica by Jasmila Zbanich, which won a Balkan Fund grant in 2003 for its script development and finally triumphed at this year's 57th Berlinale Film Festival where it won the Golden Bear, and The Tuning (Red Horizons) by Slovenian writer-director Igor Sterk, which was nominated for the 2003 Balkan Fund Workshop and went on to receive the main prize at the Mannheim Film Festival and the best feature film award at Napoli Film Festival, the Balkan Fund will soon be presenting its next projects which have been completed or are in pre- production. Completed is Gucha-Distant Trumpet by writer-director Dusan Milic, which was nominated for the Balkan Fund in 2004 and was realized as a German-Serbian-Bulgarian-Austrian co-production. It is Dusan Milic's second feature, after Jagoda in the Supermarket, which won the Grand Prix for best film at the Panorama of European Film in Athens 2003 and the second audience award at the 50th Sydney International Film Festival. Hidden Faces, Handan Ipekci's winning project of the 2004 Balkan Fund Workshop, which has over 70% of the film in the can and is expected to be completed in December 2006. It is Handan Ipekci's second feature, after the award-winning Dad is in the Army (1994).The 2004 nomination California Dreaming by the late Romanian director Cristian Nemescu also recently completed shooting. Balkan Fund projects in the pipeline include the 2003 Balkan Fund award winners The Coat, by Turkish director Kutlug Ataman, which is now in preproduction and Small Crime, a Cypriot-Greek- German co-production by Cypriot director Christos Georgiou, which will start shooting this spring, as well as the 2003 nomination Confessions by Serbia's Goran Radovanovic which is in mid-preproduction.

The Balkan Fund is co-funded by the CNC and the Goethe Institute Thessaloniki

Nominated Projects 2006

Writer & Director: Dimitris Athanitis
Co-writer: Vicky Harris
Producer: Panos Papadopoulos, Greece

A commercial representative of an Athenian firm returns to Greece after a business trip only to find out that his girlfriend is cheating on him.This crisis propels him on a road trip where he is joined by an abandoned boy. He decides to help the boy find his family. But can you find someone who doesn't want you? A classic coming-of-age story for grown-ups.

Writers: Vassilis Raissis, Stergios Niziris
Director: Stergios Niziris
Producers: Panayotis Papahatzis, Stella Theodoraki, Greece

Stephanos, a disillusioned journalist, falls in love with an unlikely partner: Lena, a romantic and highly imaginative girl. Through her he rekindles his interest in humanity and uncovers the truth behind the crime at the false trial of his boss.An interesting mixture of contemporary existential drama and a surrealistic, dark-humor-infused look at contemporary Greek life.

Writer & Director: Janez Burger
Producer: Jozko Rutar, Slovenia

The arrival of a mysterious circus at their war-torn home helps a grieving family overcome the tragic death of their mother. The stages of life are thereby depicted, as our hero rediscovers both love and hope. Departing intentionally from dialogue, this is a magical, highly ambitious project.

Writer & Director: Stefan Mavrodiev
Producers: Pavlina Jeleva, Georgy Cholakov, Bulgaria

Though he could have happiness and a family of his own, Angel can only watch as the woman he has loved since childhood marries another and has children. Ultimately sixty years will pass between the two-ever together, but never fully one.

Writer & Director: Miroslav Mandic
Producer: Mirsad Herovic, / Bosnia & Herzegovina

A visually rich fable about a town in need of reconstruction, an old couple who needs to reunite before death, a woman who needs to keep planting seeds and a lonely traveling salesman:The search for true love never stops at the sunny crossroads of reality and illusion.

Writer: Stathis Katsaros
Director & Producer: Maria Douza, Greece

Up to their necks in debt to a loan shark, Stamos and Gregory disappear to a small Greek village pretending to be filmmakers.When they are asked by the pompous local mayor to make a film about the village, they discover a fraud and poisoned fish!

Writers: Bogdan Mustata, Catalin Mitulescu
Director: Catalin Mitulescu
Producer: Daniel Mitulescu, Romania

After a lifetime in an orphanage, Anechitoaia escapes to a pick-pocketing gang of petty criminals in the hopes of a brighter tomorrow.A universal,moving story which feels like a contemporary re-working of Dickens' Oliver Twist.

Writer & Director: Darko Lungulov
Producer: Goran Radakovic, Serbia

Robert, a middle-aged and broke musician is getting evicted from his New York flat. He meets Branko, a young Serbian mover, and accepts his money offer in order to marry his girlfriend Ivana in Belgrade and bring her to New York. Robert flies to Belgrade and stays in the apartment of Branko's mother,Olga, who knows nothing of her son's deal.

Writer & Director: Blaz Kutin
Producer: Ida Weiss, Slovenia

On her 60th birthday, Lara goes to hear her pianist son play in a gala concert. But instead of joy and pride, she suddenly feels full of regret. Not regret for her lost relationship with her son, but for the career she never had. One day in the life of a jealous and bitter mother.

Writer & Director: Didem Erayda
Producer: Munire Armstrong, Turkey

Three sets of people set off towards the town of their childhood, as life catches up with them.An ensemble piece, built around the mystery of a murder.

Writers: Razvan Radulescu, Alex Baciu
Director: Rade Jude
Producer: Ada Solomon, Romania

Marian Velicanu, an ambitious sales manager in his late forties wants to take his family on vacation. But life is complicated and his attempts to prepare to get away reveal how much he is really out of control.

Writers: Dimitar Kostantinov Kotzev, Borislav Viktorov Chouchkov, Viktor Viktorov Chouchkov
Director: Viktor Viktorov Chouchkov
Producer: Borislav Viktorov Chouchkov, Bulgaria

Four teenagers experience the crucial transitions from puberty to manhood and from totalitarianism to democracy as an endless romp of skating and pinball.A poignant story of youth and change.

The Balkan Fund Jury 2006

Peter Carlton (UK)
Peter Carlton is the Senior Commissioning Executive for Film4, which is the feature film arm of UK broadcaster Channel 4, aiming at developing and financing smart, distinctive, contemporary films with a strong screenplay and directorial vision. Peter has been the executive producer of such films as Keith Fulton's and Louis Pepe's Brothers of the Head, 2005 Camera d'Or and Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique Winner Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July, as well as Dead Man's Shoes and This is England, both directed by Shane Meadows. He has just completed the production of Straightheads, directed by Dan Reed and starring Gillian Anderson.

Lenny Crooks (UK)
Lenny Crooks is the new Head of the New Cinema Fund of the UK Film Council, which is the government-backed strategic agency for film in the UK. He thus continues his work at the Glasgow Film Fund, which in his time co-funded Shallow Grave by Figment Films, Small Faces by Skyline/Easterhouse Films, The Acid House by Picture Palace North/Umbrella Productions, Carla's Song and My Name is Joe by Parallax Pictures, Orphans by Antonine Films and The House of Mirth by Three Rivers Films. He has also been since 1997 the director of the Glasgow Film Office, the industry development agency for Glasgow and the West of Scotland, which co-financed Young Adam, Skaggerak by Nimbus Films,Wilbur by Zentropa, Sweet Sixteen and The Magdalene Sisters. Lenny Crooks is also the producer of The Near Room, directed by David Hayman, the executive producer of Late Night Shopping, directed by Saul Metzstein, Morvern Callar, directed by Lynne Ramsay, and Solid Air, directed by May Miles Thomas.

Cedomir Kolar (France, Bosnia & Herzegovina)
No Man's Land Oscar winning producer Cedomir Kolar recently created A.S.A.P. Films, an independent production company together with Oscar winning director Danis Tanovic and the producer Marc Baschet. The future slate of projects includes projects by writers and directors from France, Belgium, Bosnia, Kyrgyzstan, Sweden and Slovenia.The first film produced by the Company was the film L'enfer (a.k.a.Hell), written by Kieslowski and directed by Danis Tanovic.The film was distributed worldwide by Focus Features. In 2006 A.S.A.P. Films coproduced Si le vent souleve le sable (a.k.a. Chamelle), directed by Marion Hansel. In 2006/2007 the Company will produce Aktan Arym Kubat's (a.k.a. Abdykalikov) film The Light and Danis Tanovic's Bosnian film Circus Columbia after the homonymous book written by Ivica Djikic, as well as three new projects to be shot in the English language by Danis Tanovic. Part of the slate is also the film Bessa by Serbian director Srdjan Karanovic.

Roman Paul (Germany)
Roman Paul was born in 1968 in Frankfurt,West-Germany. He has studied Theater, Film and Media Studies and American and German Literature in Frankfurt, New York, Paris and Takamatsu, Japan. In 1997 he received his M.A. degree with distinction from Goethe University, Frankfurt.After his studies he began his career in acquisitions as assistant with Prokino Filmverleih, Munich and moved on one year later to be the Head of International Acquisitions for Senator Film in Berlin and Los Angeles from 1999 to 2002. Since 10/2003 he is the Co-Managing Director of Razor Film Produktion GmbH Berlin and was until recently the Acquisitions Advisor for Celluloid Dreams World Sales. His productions include Paradise Now, directed by Hany Abu Assad which won the Golden Globe 2006 and Running on Empty by Buelent Akinci which is also screening at this year's Thessaloniki IFF. In his long acquisitions career, Roman has been responsible for discovering films such as The Edukators by Hans Weingartner, Me and You and Everyone We Know by Miranda July, and The Cremaster Cycle by Matthew Barney. Roman Paul is a member of the German Film Academy and of ACE.

Christina Kallas (Greece-Germany)
Christina Kallas is a writer-producer and the president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), which unites 9,000 screenwriters and 21 writers' guilds across Europe. She is also the artistic director of the Balkan Fund, which she created for the Thessaloniki IFF together with Lucia Rikaki in 2003, and a member of the German Federal Film Board FFA Commission for the financing of script development. She is a member of the European Film Academy and of the German Film Academy, and a member of the presidium of the Screenwriters' Guild of Germany. She has been teaching screenwriting since 1998 at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, and since 2004 at the Film Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Credits include feature films i.d., in the international competition of the Thessaloniki IFF in 1994, Love Lies, First Film Award at the Munich Film Festival in 1997, The Commissioner, starring John Hurt and Armin Mueller-Stahl, in the official competition at the Berlin Film Festival in 1998, as well as Best German TV-awarded series Edel & Starck (2001-2003). Christina Kallas is the writer of three books: European Coproductions in Film and Television (Nomos Verlag, 1992), The Art of Invention and Narration in the Cinema (Nefeli,Athens 2006) and Creative Screenwriting. An Attempt at a Method (uvk, 2007).

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is a part of INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF FILM PRODUCERS ASSCOCIATIONS / www.fiapf.org