Introducing: IFFR Pro Darkroom
31 January 2023
A new addition to IFFR Pro in 2023 is Darkroom, a work-in-progress initiative designed to support, encourage and enhance, via individual top-level mentoring sessions, six former CineMart and Hubert Bals Fund-supported projects that are now in their last stages of completion.
“The absurdist aesthetics of our chaotic Georgian society.”
In Holy Electricity, Nika and Nodo, two crusaders in contemporary Tbilisi, smell a business opportunity when giant neon crucifixes appear around town. But selling their home-sized copies door-to-door turns out to less lucrative than they thought. Adding 'holy electricity' as an extra feature seems to help matters, but also begins to threaten Nika's and Nodo's business - and their friendship.
“Holy Electricity is a visual and cinematographic film, picturing the absurdist aesthetics of our chaotic Georgian society,” explains Ineke Smits, herself no stranger to Georgia and its production scene. Her The Aviatrix of Kazbek closed IFFR in 2010. “Showing the rough cut will represent our project more sufficiently than a verbal pitch and thus will be more convincing for our future partners. We will communicate with them through our images.”
Concept still: Holy Electricity
Concept still: Holy Electricity
“The opportunity to be much more open, free and creative.”
The project has received development support from the Hubert Bals Fund and was part of IFFR’s BoostNL programme. “The support of IFFR has opened doors, and especially helped us to freely explore the world of our story and characters (one of the main characters is trans-gender, and the film is a mild critique on the role of religious institutions in society),” Ineke points out. “In present-day Georgia this would have been difficult, as our Ministry of Culture and film institute are very conservative. We feel that IFFR and the Hubert Bals Fund gave us the opportunity to be much more open, free and creative.”
After IFFR the team will continue editing in Georgia and shoot the final sequence (one week) in early spring 2023. Additionally, they will be looking for post-production funding and sales agents “who will embrace the film” and help get it out into the international market.
Smits explains the unique properties of Holy Electricity. “[It] is the first feature film by young Georgian director and cinematographer Tato Kotetishvili, whose short films have been celebrated around the world at international film festivals,” she says. “The dynamic story of Nika and Bart is simple and crazy: they have the great business idea to make money by selling neon crosses to the superstitious inhabitants of the colourful outskirts of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Without being judgmental, and using humor in a lenient way, the film reaches out to a universal audience without offending their private religious feelings. Holy Electricity is a witty but at the same time sharp black comedy, which very easily could have been a true story.”
“Being able to offer the full immersive experience is super important.”
In Juanita Onzaga’s interactive Floating With Spirits two little sisters prepare for the Day of the Dead in the mystic mountains of Mexico while remembering their shaman granny. In this cinematic and hybrid experience, the spirits of nature and their ancestors surround them, transporting us into their magical world.
“Being able to show the project now, in its almost finished stage and to an ‘invitation-only’ audience is super enriching,” Juanita explains. IFFR Pro Darkroom organises a private screening session, tailormade consultancy meetings and a discussion with a live audience of invited guests, where the director will be able to share about her artistic and creation processes on the work.
“What is really special as it is a VR experience, is that the attendants will be able to watch the interactive VR-experience straight into the headset with its 3D audio design, which is a totally different experience from watching a flat capture via a screener link on a pc,” Juanita continues. “Being able to offer the full immersive experience is super important, but not always easy for an experience that is designed for the HTC Vive headset and combines heavyweight techniques. It’s great that IFFR accommodates us to do these private sessions.
Concept still: Floating With Spirits
Having the consultancy meetings based on the ‘almost final’ experience (instead of being based on pitch teasers or research material when attending markets in an early project stage) will help us to really finetune our marketing & distribution strategy.”
She further explains the support she has so far received from IFFR on the project. “Our participation in IFFR Pro x VR Days and in CineMart…offered us so many insights regarding the VR market in general, but also storytelling and the technical possibilities when creating VR. Some of the people we have met back then kept advising us throughout the further production process. At CineMart we also had the first meeting with Dutch producer Corine Meijers from Studio Biarritz, which has led to a very nice co-production collaboration between Flanders and the Netherlands.”
Juanita adds: “This is a very sensory experience, which is designed to connect the viewer with its own imagination and memory through the senses and is created with a unique combination of different technologies that were chosen by their narrative impact, the feel and their poetry, so that the perception of the real is shaken to rewire the ways that we connect with nature, as well as with the afterlife.”
“The possibility of challenging the perception.”
“Through storytelling that is transforming reality [via] belief and imaginations, the experience offers this intriguing mix between fiction and non-fiction, the magical and the real,” she continues. “The experience transcends reason and logic, invades our emotions and raises existential questions. What is real? What is death? What is memory? How are we connected to other beings? What are spirits? This project explores the unique power of VR: the possibility of challenging the perception!”
Introducing the IFFR Pro programme 2023
IFFR’s industry programme has more content and opportunities for exchange than ever.