The mother of all co-production meetings

The mother of all co-production meetings

Still from Shanghai Trance by David Verbeek (Netherlands), presented at CineMart 2007 and competing in IFFR 2008

Celebrating its 25th anniversary during the 2008 International Film Festival Rotterdam, CineMart 2008 showcased thirty-nine projects from twenty-six countries, culled from an initial 550 submissions. Over five days, producers, financiers, directors, and sales agents, take part in back-to-back meetings to find potential partners or projects for the coming year. Altogether 800 participants have registered at the mart.

One of the most ambitions titles at CineMart 2008 is the ten-film series The Commandments, produced by the South African Broadcasting Corporation in collaboration with the Binger and National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). Other popular titles include Loneliest Planet by Julia Loktev, whose 2004 CineMart debut Day Night Day Night was selected for Cannes Directors Fortnight; and the new project by Alex van Warmerdam, The Last Days of Emma Blank, co-produced with La Parti Productions in Belgium. Van Warmerdam and La Parti met here in Rotterdam one year and have continued working together since.

CineMart Manager Marit van den Elshout puts much of CineMart’s success down to the ever-expanding network of international institutes and organisations which help to direct higher quality projects to Rotterdam. ‘We have a very well-connected advisory board and very good contacts with producers generated not only through the Rotterdam Lab but also through extensive travel and participation at workshops,” she says. “We also have very close partnerships with organisations like ACE, EAVE and Binger. It’s the network that counts, through which we find upcoming producers from across the world.’

This clear branding of the festival ethos seems to pays dividends for the individual producers and industry alike, argues Van den Elshout. ‘A CineMart selection can act as a catalyst for generating interest in a film. CineMart has always responded to developments within the international industry, but has always remained true to its founding principles. Film professionals will always know the kind of projects they can find here, and the kind of directors we select. What’s more, they know that we will always remain true to that selection.’

The strong ties between CineMart and the festival proper continue during the 2008 IFFR with nine former CineMart projects selected for the programme. Among them Shanghai Trance (pitched in 2007 by Dutch director David Verbeek), is competing for Tiger stripes.

‘We’re always looking for the more innovative project with a very artistic view, which is original and new and unlike anything that you’ve read or seen before,’ says Van den Elshout. ‘The previous work of the director is one of the key criteria in selecting a project. That’s where we differ from other co-production markets. We are a director-driven festival and therefore a director-driven co-production platform. Without a director, we would not even consider a project for selection.’

Landmark films to have started life as CineMart projects include the Foreign-language Oscar-winner Antonia’s Line (pitched in 2003); Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves 1995); and The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, pitched in 2001).

‘Given the fact that there are so many markets out there right now, you can assess the importance of CineMart by looking at the percentage of our projects that get made and the number of films that are screened at festivals like Berlin, Cannes and Toronto,’ Van den Elshout points out. ‘Eighty percent of the projects we select are made within five years, seventy percent within two years. We can’t claim that a project can never be made without the help of CineMart, but I do think that CineMart can ease the path towards the financing of projects and generating greater market interest.’ NC