Producers on the Move 2020

Marta Habior (Poland), Andrea Queralt (France), Maria Razgute (Lithuania), Vesela Kazakova (Bulgaria), Monica Hellström (Denmark), Elina Litvinova (Estonia), Marina Gumzi (Slovenia), Marie Kjellson (Sweden), Flavia Zanon (Switzerland) and Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer (Germany) – or the ten female participants of this year’s Producers on the Move initiative – present their production companies and current projects, talk about women in film today and discuss the current situation of the film industry in their respective countries.

 

 

 

Can you talk about your production company, how you work and your current projects?

Marta Habior: We’re No Sugar Films, we’re based in Warsaw, we produce, co-produce and service produce. I like to think we are small, but passionate & efficient. It’s made up of another producer – also a woman – and me, plus the team of fantastic line producers who work with us on a project to project basis. We only take on projects which we just absolutely have to produce for whatever reason; sometimes it’s the director, but most of the time it’s the story which resonates with us on a deep emotional level. I believe that’s how we manage to always push through and make things happen.

Andrea Queralt: 4 A 4 Productions is a Paris-based production company founded in 1997 and led by Mani Mortazavi and David Mathieu-Mahias and focused on art-house movies. I joined in 2015 and we immediately realized that we shared the same passion for cinema. Moved by our immediate connection, Mani and David soon gave me the chance to develop my first project as delegate producer, which ended up becoming a unique feature: Before Summer Ends by Maryam Goormathtigh made in 2017. The film premiered in Acid Cannes as the opening film, and had a great reception from critics, international festivals and French theaters.

Shortly after that, I was lucky to start a new adventure: Fire Will Come by Oliver Laxe, Jury Prize in the Official Selection of Cannes 2019 – Un certain regard. This was my first chance to work with friends, as I had known Oliver Laxe and his team for years. The combination of passionate production and friendship made the whole experience, including the film’s success, extremely rewarding. Our plan is to keep working with the same team on the two projects that I am presenting to Producers on the Move. The first is Matadero, Santiago Fillol’s (Laxe’s scriptwriter) first feature, a French-Spanish-Argentinean feature currently in production. The second is Oliver Laxe’s new feature, After, a very thrilling road movie still in development.

Elina Litvinova: I started out working as a production manager and line producer on commercials and features, so this helped me realize that I’m most keen on working with international talent and films that have a strong moral responsibility and aesthetic form.  In 2015, together with the critically acclaimed writer-director Martti Helde, the production company Three Brothers was created. It was designed to create remarkable films and audiovisual works that in their form and content express the signature of powerful authors.

The company’s first feature that was released is Helde’s second film Scandinavian Silence made 2019 and co-produced by ARP Selection from France and Media International from Belgium and was supported by Eurimages. It premiered at the Shanghai and Karlovy Vary International Film Festivals, winning the Europa Cinemas Label Award, followed by the FIPRESCI and the People’s Choice Awards at the Riga International Film Festival. Currently in early development stage is Martti’s third film, Thule, for which we’re looking for a wide range of international talent. In financing stage is director Triin Ruumet’s second feature film, Dark Paradise. The film was recently presented at the Les Arcs Co-production Market and we are planning to go into production next summer.  I am also finishing Vladimir Loginov’s new documentary film that has observed the very unique atmosphere and microcosmos of the Tallinn Hippodrome for the last five years. And I am preparing young and talented director Rebeka Rummel’s short film, Drifting Apart, which revolves around the theme of trust.

Flavia Zanon: Close Up Films is a small production company based in Switzerland, founded by Joelle Bertossa in 2012. I’ve been there since the beginning and was made partner in 2018. We employ an assistant and an accountant, both women! So we are 100% operated and ran by women! We produce both creative documentaries and feature films for cinemas, as well as TV projects. Recently, we co-produced the animation feature The Swallows of Kabul, directed by Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec, which premiered at Cannes, in Un certain regard, in 2019 and was nominated for a César in 2020.

I’m currently preparing to hopefully shoot Carmen Jaquier’s first feature film, Thunder. Set in 1900 in a small rural village, the film tells the story a young women’s return home from the convent after her sister’s mysterious death. She will be reunited with her three childhood friends and will discover that faith and desire can sometimes be intertwined. I’m also developing two projects led by talented first-time filmmakers: The Gift, a documentary feature directed by Pauline Jeanbourquin. Over the course of five years, the film will follow Aaliyah, a regular teenage girl who, on the day of her fifteenth birthday, receives “The Secret” from her grandfather, a gift believed to heal burns and other ailments. Who will this young girl grow up in our world? What will she do with this ancient gift in the 21st Century? And Kantarama Gahigiri’s Tanzanite, currently in writing, will be an ambitious odyssey taking place in Kenya in 2045. It will follow Adea and Machachari, a little girl and a hardened woman, on their quest to free the country from the power of a mysterious stone.

Marie Kjellson: My production company, Kjellson & Wik (K&W), was founded in 2013, by myself and director Katja Wik. I’ve always been interested in working long-term with directors, much as I have done with Katja Wik and previously Ruben Östlund. I think you gain so much from long-term collaboration; you learn from each project and grow stronger as partners. Currently, my main focus is developing Wik’s second feature, The Narcissist. We’re at an early stage, having a lot of fun with the project. But I am also curious to expand, and I am in conversation with other directors as well. There’s also room for co-production and I’m looking forward to hearing about my fellow producers’ projects during Producers on the Move.

Marija Razgute: I’m running my own film production company M-Films based in Vilnius, Lithuania, since 2008. We’re now three women working on an everyday basis, me as the main producer, our junior producer, Brigita, and our accountant, Marina. It’s the model of a boutique film business delivering a small number of premium films *smiling.* We tend to develop a long-term relationship with the directors that we work with. It’s very important on a human level – working with someone you know very well and you share common values is much more efficient and pleasurable as well.  On a practical level, this also enables us as a company to have a strategy for more than just a couple of years. Our recent titles are Nova Lituania by Karolis Kaupinis, Summer Survivors by Marija Kavtaradze, The Saint by Andrius Blaževičius, with whom we’re now in post-production with this second feature film, Runner. At the moment, we’re also working on the development of two new features: Slow by Marija [Kavtaradze] and Kaspervizija by Karolis [Kaupinis]. In recent years, we’ve been co-producing as a minority partner as well and we now have projects with Spain, Georgia and Germany and are actively looking for new ones.

Marina Gumzi: Rather than a classic production company, I prefer to see Nosorogi as a “production tent.” Not only is the company microscopic in size, but I have also been living between different territories for a while now, and I’m not quite willing to give up on that anytime soon. Mobility and agility are very important for me. I like switching between rhythms and I like to play internationally. I want for a part of my work to be possible either in a forest, or at the seaside, in a megalopolis such as Berlin or in a small town like Ljubljana. For me, this translates the fact that filmmaking is basically all about searching, exercising curiosity. Constantly learning, verifying our own frame of mind, reexamining our own patterns of seeing and the interpretation of that sight is immensely important to me. It keeps my mind lucid.

Concretely, this means that I take a very limited number of projects on board. However, those that I do take on become my life, and once they become my life, I cannot keep them in some separate box of work anymore. I am these projects and they are me. Furthermore, I like to get involved in projects creatively, as a co-author or screenwriter. Such a kind of collaboration is artistically satisfying, and it helps me understand the project’s production needs from inside. Having no permanent team attached to the company, I organize the frame of work for each project individually, according to its specific needs. So far, this has been particularly effective when working with first and second-time directors and with those that are interested in authentic, even partly experimental collaborative processes. Of course, such a kind of work is rather unorthodox and it surely doesn’t suit everyone, which is fine. Since my work is my life, it’s extremely important that I team up with people that can fully benefit from my way of living and aren’t frustrated with what I’m not interested in, or what I cannot provide.

Monica Hellström: Final Cut for Real is a two-time Oscar®-nominated production company based in Denmark. We are dedicated to producing high-end, creative documentaries and fiction films for the international market. The company was founded in 2009 by producers Signe Byrge Sørensen and Anne Köhncke. The company today consists of four producers, a financial controller and a post-producer. I joined the company in 2010 and I will soon have worked there for ten years. We work with young directors as well as established talent to create a productive mixture of experience and innovative approaches to filmmaking. Our policy is to be curious, daring and to seek out directors with serious artistic ambitions. We work with the best cinematographers, editors, sound designers, composers and colorists in the industry, both locally and internationally. Most of our films are co-productions in which we either lead as producers or support as co-producers.

I am soon to complete Flee, an animated documentary film directed by Jones Poher Rasmussen that we’re co-producing with Suncreature Studio, Vivement Lundi! in France, Mostfilm in Sweden and Mer Film in Norway. The film is about Amin who has never shared his real-life story about how he arrived to Denmark from Afghanistan alone, only sixteen years old, after having been on the run for five years. I am also in production with Cille Hannibal’s documentary film, I See for You, which I am still financing and that is co-directed by Christine Hanberg. The film is about a family whose oldest son Peter lost both his sight and hearing as a newborn. His family must therefore see and hear the world for him. And then, I am in development with a new film by Simon Lereng Wilmont. Our previous film, The Distant Barking of Dogs, was nominated for an EFA and was shortlisted for an Oscar. His next film, A House Made of Splinters, takes place in a very special orphanage near the frontline in Eastern Ukraine.

Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer: Elemag Pictures was founded in late 2014 by Borislav and Victor Chouchkov, Jan Krüger and me. I am the active Managing Director and Producer. We work on both documentaries and feature films, international co-productions as well as our own productions. In the last two years, we have been shooting a lot and we are taking now some time to finish projects and also develop new ones. Currently, we have in development two feature films and a docu-series. The documentary, We Were Pitmen, is in financing and we are happy that MDM and BKM are already with us. I am also very much looking forward to The Jewish Girl, a feature film we are currently developing with author and director Sharon Bar-Ziv as well as a feature film Borislav and I will produce together. The film tells an original story which has never been told before, it’s a universal story of humanity.

Vesela Kazakova: We’re a “Demonic Duo” with Mina Mileva. This was a notable insult by a Bulgarian member of Parliament and a PR for the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which essentially consists of former Communists. They are continuously annoyed by our attempts to tackle Bulgaria’s Communist past in an unusual way and to reveal facts well hidden from the public. We suffered a considerable institutional pressure organized by some of these people. Variety reviewed the matter alongside our documentary Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Service. When we started, eleven years ago, we created our company activist38 overnight, out of necessity. We needed to sign a contract with the Television for a film sale and we had to sign as a company. We wanted to be called something active and the caliber 38 is an old, forgotten one. We liked the idea of being called activist38, but that shaped our reality in the years to come. For our troubled films, we nearly faced prosecution. Luckily, all contracts were legally binding and the attempts at punishment failed. After documentary and animation works, our first fiction film, Cat in the Wall, had a remarkable festival journey.

There has been a lot of talk about women in film in the past two and a half years. What is your opinion on the matter? How is it in your country?

E.L.: Estonia is exceptional in that sense – if globally, the film industry is thought of as being a male-driven industry, then the Estonian film scene is led by female professionals. Most of our producers are women, our Film Institute is led by women and we have female cinematographers, directors, etc. It has evolved so naturally and organically without any regulations or 50/50 by 20/20 movements. To me, what matters most is the story and the execution of the film and not the origin, sex or race of it.

M.G.: It’s interesting. I consider myself extremely sensitive about all kinds of structures of hierarchy and agencies of power, the abuse of which I tend to recognize very quickly and react to fiercely. And yet, quite paradoxically, the question of gender in film was something I – while technically aware of – didn’t really know what to do with for quite a long time. The articulation of the issue and the way I thought the issue was handled by the industry had almost a reversed effect on me. I admit that. Intense diction or, for example, applying technical selection measures such as quotas never fully resonated with me.

Sailing through life with quite some stubbornness as well as openness for humor, I never felt my gender defined or limited me in my work. Then, a few years ago, at about the time I started collaborating with the young director Urška Djukić, I gradually started apprehending the scope of the issue on a deeper level. Urška is very interested in the question of the representation of gender, and she approaches it with a good sense of humor. Perhaps that sparked in me a new engagement for the topic. We worked on a project about the sexuality of the generation of our grandmothers, and a whole new dimension opened up for me. Through anthropological research, I turned back to cinema and started thinking about it as a choice of representation of the world as imposed on us by structures of power. I started thinking that I was tricked into being ignorant about the dominant cinephile canon that shaped my tastes and beliefs, which I not only took for granted for so long, but considered part of my identity, too… I recently reread the wonderful article by Erica Balsom “The Critic Lady” and I’ve noticed how deeply it now resonates with me. She writes, among else: “The claim to appreciate a film exclusively on pure merit has always been spurious, for it disavows how thoroughly the very notions of achievement and relevance are shaped by power, generally to the detriment of those who have historically been excluded from the practices and institutions that build canons and criteria.” I am today much more engaged in thinking about how to increase the awareness of the question of gender in film and media, and how to do that in a way that would also resonate with myself ten years ago. I try to approach it not with condemnation, but with curiosity.

G.-W.: How much time do you have? *smiling* It has been and still is important to raise awareness on all female issues and I am really happy about the obvious shift in the public’s reception. In the very beginning of my work in the film industry, it was different, although it wasn’t that long ago. I remember how after finishing my very first TV documentary as a producer in another company the TV commissioning editor told me: “Well done, you don‘t have to worry about your future, we are always looking for great production assistants!” and for him, this was a compliment coming from the heart. He was thinking that for a young female producer, it might be the greatest goal to become an assistant in the safe environment of a TV broadcast company. Or I also remember a production manager telling me in front of my colleagues: “I really want to know who you are sleeping with in this city!” I had just had a success with something – I don’t even remember what it was in detail – but I’ll never forget that he thought I got it with my bed skills and not as a film professional. Back then, I thought I just had to work hard enough to overcome this and that I didn’t need any quota or anything similar. I wanted to make it on my own and I didn’t understand the meaning of a sentence an older colleague told me at all. She said: “You’ll understand feminism in its full meaning once you have children.” I couldn’t get it, but now, being pregnant with my second child, I have to admit she was right. Although I am in the very lucky position to have a husband who positions himself as a very active part of our family and takes on his share, I have to admit that it is a simple fact that pregnancy and giving birth put me, at least for a while, in a weaker position. For the very first time, I don’t have the physical possibility to be equally active as my male colleagues. It is just for a limited period of time, but still, it can be a dealmaker if I don’t pay attention. So for the very first time, I really understand the need for a structured possibility to give women the chance to keep their jobs and develop professionally. Last year, I was involved in a demanding feature film shoot. In fact, the main production team was female and we all had small children: the production manager, the main location manager and myself. We all had diapers in our bags between notebooks and computers and we all had to quit meetings or calls at 3 pm because we had to go to the kindergarten or even breastfeed in between. Indeed, it’s not the most relaxed working conditions, but it is possible to do it; we’ve done it and it should be possible for all women who want it.

In Germany, we are very lucky that many people and organizations are aware of it and are developing more and more standards for gender equality. I wouldn’t say the situation is already perfect, but there are many improvements. But still, I feel a lot of bias and mistrust. When I got pregnant with my first child, even other women my age told me that I’ll lose interest in my profession once the baby is born for sure. As if I would exchange at the door of the delivery room all my professional skills and goals for a child. On the other hand, I meet women with children who chose to spend a few years with their children at home and they start explaining and excusing themselves as if they had to prove their value as “only” stay-at-home moms. Personally, I wish that now, in the 21st Century, we finally come to a point where we are able to give people the freedom to live as they want. If they want children or not; if they want to be stay-at-home moms or dads or not; if they want to get married or not, to raise their children alone or not, the religion they want to practice or not and to have those standards for everyone, no matter which gender, color or religion they bring to the table. As long as we are discussing the difference between men and women, we haven’t achieved real equality.

F.Z.: I feel that we are finally starting to see that a story about a woman, made by a woman isn’t necessarily meant exclusively for women. There seems to be a better acceptance, and globally more room, for a plurality of viewpoints to emerge today. Have we finally understood that stories about white men aren’t necessarily what should constitute the norm and be considered universally appealing to audiences? I am stimulated as a producer, as a woman, and as a filmgoer by some of the recent changes I have witnessed, be it be on film sets, where some professionals are making conscious efforts to change the culture. Or within our funding bodies, where the people in charge seem now aware of the existence of biases and are progressively trying to correct them. But I also know that things could revert back to the way they were in a heartbeat and that we must remain vigilant. We should keep pushing until the progress we have made becomes the new normal.

M.K.: There have been several initiatives to improve the equality between genders. However, we still have a long way to go. Regarding gender and power, I think Sanna Marin, Finland’s Prime Minister, was spot on when she said: “As long as the norm is that power is held by a middle-aged man – and a young woman always changes the norm – then, there has been no development. We must come to a situation where all sorts of people can lead.”

V.K.: We’ve always struggled to find authentic female characters in films in general. There hasn’t been much of a female point of view either and we’ve always felt that this is a real problem. As if the female world has been historically neglected. It’s a world that doesn’t belong to logic. It’s a surprising and extraordinary one. After our films, people feel swept off their feet, but they can’t explain exactly why. This is a very female trait. Many of our women colleagues in Bulgaria still support the old-fashioned view that gender doesn’t matter and that we need to be as good as men in order to be noticed. Well, actually, we think the opposite. We should be given a voice and we can afford to be less good than men. Historically, they’ve ruled the playground for hundreds of years. This needs to change now in every possible aspect.

M.R.: I’m an active member of WIFT Lithuania as well as a member of the EWA network. Gender parity, equality and a balanced work environment do matter to me a lot. I think it’s very important to be part of networks like these both for sharing and support. Working as a producer, I am often in the decision-making position and I take it with a high level of responsibility. Lithuania is unique in terms of how women dominate in producing, but we still have to find a better balance between directors as females are still behind in numbers. Anyways, I’m very positive about it in my country as we have a very vivid and energetic generation of young female directors coming.

M.H.: I say: Bring more women everywhere! Not just in film! But seriously, I am a woman, I connect with women, and I work mostly with women. And as for the industry, I believe there’s still a big disproportion, especially in terms of women directors attached to bigger budget movies, which is simply unfair and unjustified. They work as hard, if not harder, they prepare well, they know how to collaborate and most important of all, they have stories to tell… One of my early stage projects at the Producers on the Move Forum is a directorial debut from a young, but well-established actress, Marta Nieradkiewicz who starred in Wild Roses by Anna Jadowska, Floating Skyscrapers and United States of Love by Tomasz Wasilewski. It’s a story about the struggle of early motherhood. When I first read the script, although it did move me, I caught myself thinking: “Who is going to watch approximately twenty minutes of labor on the big screen?” This is something I guess most of us are in some strange way conditioned to think or feel when given a subject focused entirely on a woman’s experience and from a woman’s perspective. I went on and looked for films about motherhood and was very surprised to see how very few actually deal with the topic as the center point of a feature film, treating it honestly but without sanctifying it. It was quite a shock for me, considering the fact that the experience can be magical and satisfying, sometimes brutal and painful, but almost always absolutely transformative. It felt almost unreal to see how unexploited the topic is.  Also, I thought to myself: “Clint Eastwood hasn’t probably been asking himself whether or not anyone will be happy to watch 120 minutes of toxic masculinity oozing from the screen, before making his movie.”

A.Q.: It is very interesting to see that certain sexist schemes the film industry was relying on are now being questioned and shaken. In France, this movement is particularly strong and I really hope the collective awareness on this matter is irreversible. Times seem to be changing, but there is still a long way to go. However, I remain skeptical about certain discourses because as a young woman working in the industry, I do not want to be instrumentalized. Our fight should be against patriarchal schemes, not men. I love working with men as much as I love working with women.

M.H.: We are four female producers, but it’s not a focus for us as such. We have become more aware that there are unbalances and we do try to inspire our directors to include stronger and more complex female characters if possible and also ensure that we work with both female and male directors. I guess the focus has made us more aware, which is good. A research did show that male directors tend to get bigger support than women, but as a country, we are lucky to have many really strong female directors that work internationally too, like for example Lone Scherfig, Susanne Bier, Charlotte Sieling, Birgitte Stærmose, May el-Toukhy and Christina Rosendahl. I think these role models are very important for future generations.

Can you talk about the situation of the film industry in your respective countries today?

F.Z.: In 2015, a study about the distribution of public film funds was published in Switzerland. The findings showed that women directors, screenwriters and producers were significantly disadvantaged in receiving public film funding money. 72% of the films were made by men, and they were receiving 78% of the budgets allocated.

One year later, the Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network (SWAN) was born. Since then, they’ve work tirelessly to further the cause of women within the Swiss film industry. They have pushed local festivals such as Locarno to sign the Pledge for Parity; they compile statistics on gender that have been used as vital lobbying tools, they are working on a database regrouping all the women professionals working in the industry… In a country where we speak four different languages, it is sometimes hard to unite and thanks to these tireless and dedicated women, there is a sense of a community being built. There is still a lot of work to do, but there is hope!

T.G.-W.: Before Covid-19, I’d say we’ve had quite a stable production and distribution landscape in Germany, such as dealing with the ever-changing consumer and market dynamics as well as other issues. Now, it is really difficult to describe the general situation as the conditions are constantly changing and I am really curious to see how we’ll come out of this. In fact, nobody has been in this situation before and nobody can therefore really count on experience.

M.H.: I’d say the situation in Polish film industry is stable, and aside from the usual producer’s struggle, quite frankly, we cannot complain much. We finally introduced tax incentives, we have a stable Polish Film Institute support and, of course, regional funds, plus Netflix and other streaming platforms are filling a few gaps and inspiring the creation of new content. We have amazing talents ready to give their all when engaged in an interesting project. As for the industry, during Covid-19, we have fears about a couple regional funds being put on hold. Obviously, we will produce less films this year. Before Covid-19, we produced fifty films annually, many of which travelled to festivals worldwide, and the Polish box office looked very healthy. One exciting thing I also observe is an “explosion” of new young talents, whom I personally, love working with. If we can get through the difficult times of the Covid-19 slow-down, I’m very optimistic about the future of Polish cinema.

M.G.: I can, and in some sense, I consider it my duty. But it’s not without certain bitterness. In the last decade, Slovenian cinema witnessed an unprecedented awakening. A group of very diverse young filmmakers emerged, almost from nowhere, with films that have regularly been presented at festivals such as Venice, Locarno, Toronto, etc. The fact that six films that won the Best Film Award at the Festival of Slovenian Film in the last seven years were debuts – one was a second film – says pretty much everything about the state of affairs. However, every transformation – in order to be accredited a just significance – needs to be recognized and properly articulated. It seems to me that not everyone in Slovenia is willing to do so. We have this fantastic group of young filmmakers, which in some other country would be packaged as a national new wave, and yet the national community isn’t willing, or able, to fully call it as such. Or promote it for that matter. The problem is simple: money, which just isn’t enough to support this community. Since the 2008 crisis, public film support in Slovenia has been cut in half – in HALF! – and it has not recovered since. We have one of the weakest national supports for film in the entire Europe, while our GDP isn’t the lowest. Our system simply doesn’t cater to the needs of the film community. The members of this community, struggling with their individual precarious situations, worry about their own survival more that they can be loud and proud of its new generation. And, please, don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame anyone from the industry for this tensed relationship! I blame the system. While politicians have mouths full of worshiping culture as the national constitutive element, their will to resolve certain profound instabilities seems to be very feeble.

M.R.: I see the Lithuanian film industry as a young, quite well gender-balanced and fast-growing film industry.  Right now, it’s very significantly dominated by young filmmakers, which has both advantages and disadvantages. The good thing is that we’re so full of energy, hardworking professionals and we’re always ready to walk the extra mile if needed. The difficult thing is that we’re still trying to find our voice for cinema, to build a brand that could later help others identify Lithuanian films better. Last but not least, Lithuania as a small country offers you a lot of opportunities: as a film professional, you can grow much faster and get your shot much sooner than elsewhere.

V.K.: The Bulgarian Ministry of Culture fails to understand the importance of being internationally recognized in cinema. Culture ministers are bluntly unimpressed by big international film festivals and view them as a source of expense. Many in Bulgaria share this view. What they refuse to accept is that festivals are the gatekeepers of international markets and distribution. Unsurprisingly, for a number of years, the state has poured millions into the pockets of one or two authors/producers whose films have questionable artistic value and are viewed only at home. We’re a very small domestic market of about six and a half million. At the same time, the internationally acclaimed producers and directors queue for low budget support because they know that they don’t stand a chance in the normal funding category. Four-time Locarno Award winner Ralitza Petrova, for example, was turned down for an idea three times. The support for an idea is small – about ten thousand euros – and at each biannual session, ten of them are approved. It is a necessary initial support. So this tendency interrupts the journey of many promising talents and poses a number of hurdles for our institutions and the Bulgarian National Film Centre.

A.Q.: In France, as all over the world, 2020 is a cursed year: our present is desolating and tomorrow is uncertain. The difference from other countries is that France has one of the strongest and most developed film industries in the world, particularly for art-house cinema. Its complex rich ecosystem is now being damaged, particularly movie theaters. Platforms, which are burgeoning, are not part of this ecosystem. Personally, I don’t see myself producing content for platforms. I really hope that, because of its strength, the French industry will be able to overcome these difficulties, even if it is going to take time, patience and perseverance.

M.H.: I think the Danish Film Industry is in good shape, but Covid-19 has had a huge effect on the industry, like in the rest of the world and it is difficult to see how big the consequences will be on the other side. But I believe that we’re lucky to have a strong and stable support system that tries to adjust in the best possible way to meet the needs of the industry.

E.L.: The Estonian film industry is a very vibrant scene. The scale of our country and industry makes us very effective in communication, decision-making and reliability. We haven’t bureaucratized everything beyond limits, so when it comes to financing or prepping a shoot in Estonia, our regulations, crews, locations, etc. are very accessible and flexible compared to many other European countries, where the wave of servicing Anglo-American films has passed through already. So, in a way, we haven’t been spoiled yet and are always ready to push our limits for a great result.  Of course, Estonian film is also struggling to attract additional financing, the cinemas are closed as well as the borders for international projects scheduled to shoot in Estonia this year. But limitations always push people to become more creative, so I have no doubt that the Estonian female power will find a way to overcome these obstacles.

M.K.: I think it is similar to the situation in Europe as a whole. Digital platforms and new formats are changing the market, many production companies are diversifying into producing series as well as feature films. In many ways, it is exciting times, lots of possibilities, but as the battle for the audience gets harder, I think there is also a need for you as a producer to stick to what you believe in. Not chasing numbers, but rather, as Robert Bresson once said: “Try to make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”

 

 

 

This interview was conducted in partnership with:

Tara Karajica

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in "Indiewire," "Screen International," "Variety," "Little White Lies" and "Film New Europe," among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, "Close-up" and Eurimages. She is a member of the European Film Academy, the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists as well as the recipient of the 2014 Best Critic Award at the Altcine Action! Film Festival. In September 2016, she founded "Yellow Bread," a magazine dedicated entirely to short films, ranked among the 25 Top Short Film Blogs and Websites on the Planet in 2017. In February 2018, she launched "Fade to Her," a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently a programmer for live action shorts at PÖFF Shorts, Head of the Short Film Program and Live Action Shorts programmer at SEEFest and Narrative Features Programmer at the Durban International Film Festival. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator and/or jury member.

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Sahar Mossayebi was born in Tehran. She graduated in Theater with a BA from The Azad

Claire Denis

Idolized not only by the next generation of talents in today’s Cinema such as Alice Diop,

Isabel Coixet

Following her 2022 documentary El sostre groc, Catalan trailblazer Isabel Coixet returns to fiction with Un

Kitty Green

Australian director Kitty Green follows up her critically acclaimed feature debut The Assistant with her sophomore

Lina Soualem & Hiam Abbass

After her directorial debut, Their Algeria, French-Palestinian-Algerian filmmaker Lina Soualem follows her mother, actress Hiam Abbass,