THE FIRST BALKAN FUND AWARDS
The first awards of the newly established Balkan Fund of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival were awarded yesterday following a three day workshop during which Balkan Fund’s pre-selected directors and producers had the chance to present their future projects to the numerous professional decision makers who attended the workshop, and furthermore to the Fund’s international jury composed by Gunnar Bergdahl, director/ex head of the Goteborg Film Festival, Leonard Crooks, head of the Glasgow Film Fund, Georges Goldenstern, Cinefondation Cannes Film Festival, Christina Kallas, writer-producer and artistic director of the Balkan Fund, and Dunja Klemenc, producer and head of the association of Slovenian producers. The four Balkan Fund awards went to the film projects:
The Journey by Artan Minarolli, Albania. A tragicomedy set at the time when democracy finally reaches Albania. The story of a yearlong prisoner who has to become a cleancut citizen overnight. A story reminding us of “Goodbye Lenin” in its historical absurdity.
The Coat by Kutlug Ataman, Turkey, director of worldwide released and critically acclaimed “Lola und Billydikid”. The Coat tells the story of a friendship between two girls in Cyprus just after the separation. In the center we find a young Turkish Cypriot girl who has moved to someone else’s house in the former Greek part of the island and is given the beautiful and oversized coat of the girl who lived there before. “I feel present life imposed on people of Cyprus is like that coat…”,says Kutlug. “it is stolen, it is imposed, and it does not fit.”
Grbavica, by the young and Fipresci-awarded filmmaker Jasmila Zbanich and co-produced by the well known Austrian director Barbara Albert, tells a very special mother-daughter story set in Grbavica, a section of Sarajevo which was a concentration camp during the war. It is the story of a single mother doomed by the fate of having been raped and forced to deliver the daughter whom she now needs to learn to love.
Small Crime, a co-production between Cyprus, Greece and Serbia & Montenegro, is born out of the Balkan synergy of writer-producers Christos Georgiou, director of the Montreal-awarded “Under the Stars”, and Srdjan Koljevic, one of the most active and successful screenwriters of former Yugoslavia. It is a charming small intimate piece set on a Greek island, telling the story of Leonidas, a small town police officer who finally gets the chance to conduct a real life murder case.
All the professionals attending the workshop evaluated the Balkan Fund initiative as an extremely positive one. The applicants appreciated especially the experience transfer during the workshop, where they could also benefit from individual meetings and thus enhance their project’s international potential. The deadline for the next session of the Balkan Fund is June 30th 2004. Application form and regulations can be found at the festival’s website www.filmfestival.gr