East European Forum brings industry to Jihlava

By Cathy Meils in Jihlava
    The 8th East European Forum put a professional stamp on the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival with an array of documentary film buyers and distributors guiding and networking with selected doc filmmakers.

    Two dozen commissioning editors and film fund executives sat through two days of pitching sessions which followed an intensive three day workshop, where directors and producers from two dozen films honed their projects and pitching skills. The programme concluded with an additional day devoted to distribution, with representatives from eight companies giving detailed advice to the participants,

    "Jihlava has grown into a very professional organization," Marijke Rawie, head of the forum workshop, told FNE, She marvelled at the 600% growth of the forum since its beginnings, when just four or five commissioning editors and buyers attended. "Jihlava is now the fourth biggest documentary pitching forum worldwide." The commissioning editors represented leading TV stations and companies across Europe and North America, from ITVS in the United States to ARTE in both France and Germany, to Austria's ORF.

    Reaction to projects ranged from dramatic highs (Rahdi Taylor of the Sundance Documentary Fund, announcing to Estonian director/producer Marianna Kaat and her Ukrainian co-producer Olena Fetisova with their project of illegal child miners, The Pit, that Sundance was coming on board with development funding) to the disappointingly blunt.

    "About 65% of the projects got very positive reaction," Rawie said, "the same amount as what will really get made." She estimated that 40-50% of the pitched projects would receive funding within the year.

    The presenters also underscored another encouraging factor in the region: a growth in regional collaboration and co-productions.The international factor looks certain to grow next year, when the three-part Archidoc workshop plans to move its first session to Jihlava. Project director Helena Fantl praised the Jihlava organization. "I'm really impressed with the people and TV stations here," she said. "It's quite amazing to bring all these people to Jihlava."