Estonian film Portugal by Lauri Lagle is the big winner at the seventh edition of First Look, one of Locarno Festival’s Industry Days most well established initiatives, focusing on cinema from a different region each year. Running for three days (4-6 August), First Lookaimed to showcase cinema from the Baltics with Six Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian films, currently in post-production, presented by their producers to sales agents, programmers and industry professionals. The project was organised by Markus Duffner with support this year coming from the Estonian Film Institute, Latvia Film Centre and Lithuanian Film Centre.
The selected projects for this edition were:
El Padre Medico – Vytautas Puidokas (Lithuania/Brazil)
Producer: Paulius Juočeris
Paradise 89 – Madara Dišlere (Latvia/Germany)
Producer: Aija Bērziņa
Portugal – Lauri Lagle (Estonia)
Producer: Tiina Savi
The Little Comrade – Moonika Siimets (Estonia)
Producer: Riina Sildos
Stásis – Mantas Kvedaravičius (Lithuania/Ukrainia/France)
Producer: Uljana Kim
The Mover – Dāvis Sīmanis Jr. (Latvia/Luxembourg)
Producer: Gints Grube
The international jury included Artistic Director for Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, Charles Tesson, SXSW Film Head, Janet Pierson, and Venice Days’ Vice Director, Sylvain Auzou.The jury awarded debut film Portugal, by acclaimed Estonian playwright Lauri Lagle, a €65,000 priz for post-production services sponsored by CineLab Romania, “for its originality and look at contemporary life in Estonia.” Portugal explores the tension felt by a couple going through a profound crisis during the holiday period. The film was represented by Tiina Savi from Estonian production company Allfilm (In The Crosswind [+], Tangerines [+]) and is due for release in February 2018.
Vytautas Puidokas’ El Padre Medico received two prizes, one for €5,000 from Kaiju Cinema Diffusion for the creation of key art design and another for €3,000 from the VOD platform Baltic View and Noir Lumiere for DCPs and international promotion. The reasoning behind the decision was “for its wonderful material and for exposing the dark side of humanitarianism”. The documentary explores the life of A.F. Bendoraitis who spent his life in the Amazonian jungle in the 1960s under the false identity of a European missionary, philanthropist and doctor. The film was produced by the Lithuanian company Ironcat and the Brazilian Lente Viva Filmes, with completion due for January 2018.
Finally, debut director, Moonika Siimets, received the €5,500 advertising services award from Le Film Français for her film The Little Comrade. The story follows a six-year-old girl, Leelo, whose mother is sent to prison during the Stalinist period, documenting her struggles to keep up her good behaviour in the hope that it might help to bring her mother back. The jury decision on the award was “for its great storytelling, international appeal, the great performance and historical reconstruction.” Produced by Estonian company Amrion, known for Ilmar Raag’s recent films, The Little Comrade with an expected completion date in March 2018.
UPDATE: The winners of the co-production platform Open Doors Hub have also been announced. The 2017 edition was the second of a three-year cycle that Open Doors will dedicate to eight countries in Southern Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Open Doors Hub (2 – 8 August) gave the opportunity to the project holders, a director and one attached producer) to further present their work aiming to international collaborations and further financing.
The jury has awarded the following projects:
The Open Doors Grant totalling 50,000 CHF is going to two projects and is in collaboration with City of Bellinzona and the Swiss film production fund Visions Sud Est, with the backing of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC):
Badeszenen – Dawood Hilmandi (Afghanistan) – 35,000 CHF
One Summer Day – We Ra Aung (Myanmar) – 15,000 CHF
One Summer Day was also awarded with the €8,000 developing grant of CNC, the project also participated at the Fabrique of the French Institute during last Cannes Film Festival. Finally, the ARTE prize of €6,000 was awarded to Made in Bangladesh by Rubaiyat Hossain (Bangladesh/France) that also secured the support of the Cinémas du monde commission.
The Open Doors Lab, the training workshop of the initiative, organized by Sophie Bourdonhas handed also handed its awards to projects in development, in collaboration with TorinoFilmLab and Initiative Film.