Feature debuts from Slovakia, Cyprus and Romania are among the 13 projects selected for the 25th anniversary edition of the East-West co-production market connecting cottbus, taking place from November 8-10 in the German town of Cottbus.
The event brings together producers from eastern and western Europe.
Producer Martina Sakova of Bratislava-based WHAT IF Films and writer-director Daniel Rihák will be presenting the coming of age comedy My World Upside Down which won the Orka Co-Production Award at last year’s Kids Kino Industry Forum in Warsaw and the PopUp Residency Visegrad Award at this year’s Febio Industry Days.
Cyprus-based producer Constantinos Nikiforou is being joined by writer-director Arggyro Nicolaou for the pitch of her first feature Excavators which was selected for Midpoint Institute’s 2023 Feature Launch programme.
The drama about intergenerational memory and family relationships in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 already has Minos Papas’ New York-based Cyprian Films onboard as a production partner.
Meanwhile, Romanian-born, Berlin-based writer-director Cosmin Nicolae’s feature debut, the drama Pyrrhic about an Afghanistan war veteran attempting to adjust to a changing society after returning to her hometown on the Black Sea, is part of this year’s line-up of projects after winning the Transilvania Pitch Stop – coco award on its presentation in Cluj in June.
In addition, producer Julia Shaginurova and director Sasha Kulak will be at connecting cottbus to present The Fourth Way, Kulak’s first foray into fiction after directing the documentaries A Hawk As Big As A Horse and Mara.
The co-production between Berlin-based Einbahnstraße Productions, Uzbekistan’s SESTRA Films and France’s Les Steppes Productions focuses on the fates of four young women set against the backdrop of contemporary Uzbekistan. The screenplay has been written by Kulak with the writer-director Michael Borodin whose own feature film Convenience Store was pitched in Cottbus in 2019 and premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama in 2022.
In total, seven feature debuts will be pitched to an invited audience of potential co-producers, film funders, sales agents and distributors, and the line-up projects also includes second features by such filmmakers as Croatia’s Filip Heraković (Night Waves) and Kazakhstan’s Shokir Kholikov (A Leg).
The event in Cottbus will also see the pitching of La Manche, the new feature project by Polish director Damian Kocur. His debut film Bread and Salt screened at Venice’s Horizons sidebar in 2021 and went on to win the best director prize at the Cottbus Film Festival that same year.
Bulgarian producer-directorr team Vesela Kazalova and Mina Mileva, whose credits include Cat In The Wall and Women Do Cry, will introduce their comedy drama Mather. It will be co-directed with Kazalova by co-author Angelina Rangelova and is described as a light satirical take on the sensitive issue of gender identity.
Works in progress
Meanwhile, this year’s works in progress section is showcasing six projects. They include Turkish director Zeynep Köprülü’s coming of age drama On The Water Surface, the Georgian writer-directors Keko Chelidze and Kote Kalandadze’s comedy No More and Ukrainian filmmaker Simon Mozghovyi’s sci fi drama Chrysanthemum Day.
Projects pitched in Cottbus at recent editions to have gone on to premiere at major international film festivals include Maksym Nakonnechnyi’s Butterfly Vision, Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper’s Vesper, Tomasz Winski’s Borders Of Love, Anna Jadowska’s Woman On The Roof, Emre Kayis’ Anatolian Leopard, and Jan P. Matuszyński’s Leave No Traces.
The full list of projects to be pitched at connecting cottbus:
A Leg (Kazak), dir: Shokir Kholikov, prod: Aigerim Satybaldy (A Films)
At Your Service (Est), dir: German Golub, prod: Evelin Penttilä, Johanna Maria Paulson (Stellar Film)
Ballad of the Skeleton (Turk), dir: Murat Uğurlu, prod: Ilgım Coşar (Rubikon Film/Monday Film)
Excavators (Cyps-US, dir: Argyro Nicolaou, prods: Constantinos Nikiforou, Minos Papas (Caretta Films/Cyprian Films)
Honeymoon (Ukr), dir: Zhanna Ozirna, prod: Dmytro Sukhanov (Toy Cinema)
La Manche (Pol), dir: Damian Kocur, prod: Anna Gawlita, Marta Szymanowska (Kijora Film)
Mather (Bul), dirs: Anguelina Rangelova & Vesela Kazakova, prods: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova, Ivelina Pavlova (Activist 38/Doni Mont)
My World Upside Down (Slov-Ger), dir: Daniel Rihák; prod: Martina Saková, Daniel Rihák (WHAT IF Films/Projector23)
Night Waves (Cro), dir: Filip Heraković, prod: Tamara Babun, Matija Drniković (Wolfgang & Dolly)
Pyrrhic (RoM) dir: Cosmin Nicolae, prod: Velvet Moraru, Ioana Moraru (Icon Production)
Resonance (Bulg-Gr), dir: Yordan Petkov, prods: Vanya Rainova, Victoria Mitreva, Rossitsa Valkanova, Mina Dreki (Portokal/Garti Films/Klas Film/Marni Films)
Tactile Universe (Hung), dir: Szilárd Bernáth, prod: András Muhi (Focus Fox)
The Fourth Way (Ger-Uzbek-Fr), dir: Sasha Kulak; prod: Julia Shaginurova, Louis Beaudemont (Einbahnstraße Productions/SESTRA Films Les Steppes Productions)
The Works in Progress projects for 2023:
Borderwall (Lith), dir: Ignas Jonynas, prod: Ruta Adelė Jekentaitė (Baltic Productions)
Chrysanthemum Day (Ukr-Neth), dir: Simon Mozgovyi, prods: Daryna Zakharova, Artem Koliubaiev, Alex Chepiga, Annemiek van der Hell (Mainstream Pictures/Windmill Film)
Ink Wash (Rom-Gr), dir: Sarra Tsorakidis, prods: Anca Puiu, Nikos Moustakas (Mandragora/Bad Crowd)
No More (Geor), dirs: Keko Chelidze & Kote Kalandadze, prod: Elene Margvelashvili (Parachute Films)
On The Water Surface (Turk-Ger), dir: Zeynep Köprülü,prods: Utku Zeka, Okan Üzey, Paulina Toenne (Periferi Film/Kalavara Film/Tamtam Film)
Wet Monday (Pol-Czech Rep-Est), dir: Justyna Mytnik, prods: Marta Gmosińska, Jakub Kostal, Marianne Ostrat (Lava Films/Bionaut/Aleksandra Film)