Six exciting projects from Venezuela, South-Africa, Kurdistan (Iraq), Jordan, Myanmar and the Philippines will be presented in front of an audience of Norwegian producers. Besides the filmmakers who will be presenting their projects, we have prepared an interesting session where the audience can learn more about co-production and distribution in China, and an update will be given concerning changes that are about to be made to Sørfond’s guidelines.
The six projects that are invited have been selected from the following partnering film markets at festivals around the world: Dubai Film Connection of Dubai International Film Festival, MAFIZ Industry Zone of Malaga Film Festival, Cinefoundation’s L’Atelier of Festival de Cannes, Durban FilmMart of Durban International Film Festival, Open Doors Hub of Locarno Film Festival, and Asian Project Market of Busan International Film Festival.
As of next year’s Sørfond grant-deadline in March 2019, all applications will have to pass a pre-selection-process before being presented to the jury. The participants of the Sørfond Pitching Forum will automatically pass through this pre-selection.
The Selected Projects:
The Exam (Kurdistan/Iraq)
Director: Shawkat Amin Korki
Producer & co-producer: Shawkat Amin Korki & Mehmet Aktaş (Germany)
Prize-winning director, known for Kick Off, Memories of Stone and Crossing the Dust. Co-producer and co-writer Mehmet Aktaş is known for among others Gulîstan - Land of Roses, Before Snowfall and Letter to the King.
Rojeen (20) has already failed twice the admission exam for university in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Since her father wants her to marry if she fails again, Rojeen and her beloved sister Shilan (24) try to find ways to pass the exam by cheating. Soon, they find themselves in a conflictual circle of a corrupt educational system.
The project was selected at the Asian Project Market in Busan.
The Women (Myanmar)
Director: The Maw Naing
Producer: Youngjeong Oh
Youngjeong Oh has co-written the script together with director Maw Naing. Naing has made several short films, and his feature debut The Monk was screened at festivals all over the world, including in Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, and Singapore. The Women is Naing’s second feature.
Mi Thet (19) moves to the big city from her small village in order to get a job. She finds work in a garment factory and accommodation in a small dormitory room with three other young women – Sa Phay (23) who works in the same factory, Khin Su (23) who works in a hotel, and Ei Lay (14) who works as a maid in the house of one of the country’s powerful ex-generals. Despite working hard and keeping their hopes high, they can’t escape from poverty. Though they do not know each other, their lives are connected through sharing the small place at the dormitory. From their present, we see their past and future.
The Project was selected at Open Doors Hub Locarno. Here it also won the Vision Sud-Est Award of 35 000 CHF (approx. 30 000€).
The Alleys (Jordan)
Director: Bassel Ghandour
Producer: Rula Nasser
Nasser has co-produced films such as The Last Friday, My Love Awaits Me by the Sea. Director Ghandour was co-writer and producer on Theeb, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at both the Academy Awards and the BAFTAs. The Alleys will be Ghandour’s first feature.
In a claustrophobic East Amman neighbourhood, where life is dictated by gossip and violence, ALI, a hustler who pretends to be a white-collar career man, has a secret relationship with Lana, a young college student. Their romance is kept hidden until one day Lana’s mother, Aseel, receives an extortionist video of the young couple getting intimate. Hoping to avoid public embarrassment, Aseel discreetly convinces Abaas, a ruthless gangster, to put a stop to it… but things don’t go so smoothly. Their lives start to intertwine and collide not just with each other, but with the other residents living amongst the same Alleys.
The project was selected at Dubai Film Connection 2017. Here it also won the Cinescape/Front Row Award of $10,000.
How To Steal a Country (Sør-Afrika)
Director: Rehad Desai & Mark Kaplan
Producer: Zivia Desai
Desai is known for the documentaries The Giant Is Falling and Miners Shot Down. The latter won Desai an Emmy Award for best documentary in 2015. In How To Steal a Country Desai investigates South-Africa’s biggest ever corruption scandal, the Gupta-leaks.
When Indian émigré brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta bet on Jacob Zuma, they bet on the rising star in South Africa’s ruling ANC party. Within just a few years of Zuma becoming the country’s president, the Guptas and Zuma’s son are multi-millionaires off the back of dodgy contracts from state owned enterprises. A rag-to-riches-story filled with political influence, corruptible politicians and a host of well-known multinationals prepared to benefit from state capture.
The project was selected at the Durban FilmMart of Durban International Film Festival.
Whether the Weather is Fine (Philippines)
Director: Carlo Fransisco Manatad
Producer: Armi Rae Cacanindin
Co-producer: Vincent Wang (France)
Producer Cacanindin has produced numerous Philippine films. She participated in Torino Film Lab with WTWIF and won the TFLs Co-Production Award. Co-producer Wang has produced films like Oblivion Verses and The Ornithologist. Director Manatad has worked as an editor on numerous projects, and directed short films that have been screened at several international festivals, including Locarno, Busan, Norwegian short film festival, and Semaine de La Critique in Cannes. Whether the Weather is Fine will be Manatad’s first feature.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, religious fanatics, desperados, criminals and fleeing animals are loose in the city. Miguel, a desperate son, roams the ruins in search of the two women in his life: his girlfriend Andrea and his mother, Norma. As soon as he finds them, Miguel tries to convince them to leave the unliveable city. However, Norma is dead set on waiting for her estranged husband Luis, while Andrea is entangled in rebellious acts paving the way for her to commit the unspeakable. As Miguel’s time slowly runs out as another rumor of an incoming storm resurfaces, his freedom and even his life are jeopardized. He must decide whether to stay on to persuade his loved ones or to leave town on his own before the next disastrous storm devours him and the only home he knows.
The project was selected at L'Atelier in Cannes.
Deeper / HONDO (Venezuela)
Director: Virginia Urreiztieta
Producer: Natalia Mahado
Producer Machado is known for the Sørfond-supported La Familia, which premiered in Cannes and will be Venezuela’s candidate for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Director Urreiztieta’s previous short Gas Station was produced by James Franco, and her thesis-film PANORAMA received a Jury Special Mention at the 2016 Clermont-Ferrand. Deeper / HONDO will be Urreiztieta’s first feature.
Deep into the Venezuelan plains, Elena (35) and her daughter Anick (16) spend their days commanding a cattle ranch. Elena suffers from "demons" and after enduring a life filled with suffering, she has decided to die. One morning, Anick discovers a dead cow. Apparently, a hungry beast has been killing the cattle in the ranch. Meanwhile, people taking advantage of the political instability in the country to invade properties have started to close in on their land. Secretly, Elena has arranged for the sale of her property, but Anick discovers her plan and opposes her. In turn, Elena dares her to catch the tiger. Anick, resentful of her mother's indifference towards their lives and their land, decides to go after it and finish off the beast.
The project was selected at the MAFIZ of Malaga International Film Festival.