Celebrating its ninth edition, the Sarajevo Film Festival`s annual industry conference, Regional Forum, once again brought together key players from the region to discuss the opportunities and possibility for expansion available to Southeastern Europe in collaboration with the international film industry. Running during CineLink Industry Days, from 12 to 16 August, the Regional Forum was focused on funding opportunities and co-production possibilities. All discussions were moderated by SFF’s head of industry, Jovan Marjanovic.
The first of the panels, entitled Developing Cities and Regions Through the Creative Industries, focused on the research conducted by Olsberg SPI and was presented by Jonathan Olsberg and Andrew Barnes on the impact and effects of festivals on regions and cities, in this case, Sarajevo Film Festival. During the presentation the team mentioned that the effects of an event of this scale could be multilateral on cultural, financial and social fronts. Furthermore, the importance of the event also attracts governmental interest to invest and further assists creative industries related to cinema. The research is still on-going and the results will be announced once the festival has ended.
At the same panel, Andrew Reid, head of production for Northern Ireland Screen fund, expressed his experience of a fund that, with the right strategic decisions, aims to become one of the most important funds in the UK and Ireland, after London. Northern Ireland has attracted film and TV productions mainly from the USA, changing the film landscape in previous years, something that has also impacted new job offerings in the film industry. Reid also mentioned that this would soon lead the fund to further expand by establishing a Belfast Film Centre.
Returning five years after its first edition, the Co-producing with Germany on Lower Budgetpanel aimed to shed light on the opportunities and requirements that local film professionals should meet in order to collaborate with Germany, the most active partner in the region. Brigitta Manthey from the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg Fund explained the differences between the multiple funding schemes in Germany, including federal funding, tax incentives and regional funds, and the importance of their role. As the national funds in Germany are mainly aimed at national productions, regional funds that can handle €10,000,000 to €37,000,000 should be sought for international co-productions. Requirements can still vary between funds as Claas Danielsen from the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and Malika Rabahallah from Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein mentioned, and could depend on the topic, genre as well as other factors. In some cases local production is no longer a requirement, while in others the terms seem to be much stricter and harder to achieve. This is of course the result of Germany being the key player and most attractive possible partner. The discussion wrapped up with one main request coming from all of the funds’ representatives, film productions must secure funding in their own countries before applying for financing in Germany.
Returning to the regional funding schemes, the Fiscal Incentives for Film and TV in Southeast Europe panel presented tax shelters, tax credits and cash rebate offers for the four states of former Yugoslavia. The Croatian Audiovisual Center was the first to offer a 20% cash rebate on film productions and Margarita Perić, the Croatian programme coordinator, presented the case on how Croatia has become more attractive to international co-productions by offering both location and financial support. As a result, at least three major film productions are able to run in Croatia during the same period as the film industry has been expanded. Boban Jevtic, director of the Film Center Serbia, agreed that cash rebates made Serbia an important location for film productions and by offering a 20% tax credit they have seen a four-fold return in investment in the industry. Slovenian Film Centre has presented a new scheme since last year and Nerina Kocjančič, Head of Distribution and Promotion, mentioned that their offer of 25% combined with the uniqueness of the landscape could be an encouraging start. Finally, Montenegro is the most recent state to offer a 20% cash rebate, and Sehad Cekic, director of the newly founded Film Center Montenegro stated that the positive results seen by neighbouring countries would act as a guideline for them.