The Berlin International Film Festival`s European Film Market was an important milestone in the development of the new co-production hub between Lazio and the Balkans: Balkan Days Tirana-Rome. "A network," explains Cristina Priarone, Managing Director of Rome Lazio Film Commission, “which is founded on the idea of developing co-productions between Lazio and the Balkans on two levels: interaction between producers, (promoting mutual knowledge and the development of shared projects), and interaction between institutions, which goes hand-in-hand with co-productive networking, with the aim of balancing funding, creating synergy and sharing experiences..."
It all started at the first edition of the Balkan Film Market, which took place last October in Tirana as per the initiative of the Albanian Film Center & Media Desk.
"In recent years we’ve seen some very positive results regarding co-productions with Italy,” says Ilir Butka, the Centre director, “and without push from institutions. Co-productions are therefore the result of an individual desire to collaborate on shared projects. We wanted to extend this positive experience to other Balkan countries. It`s in this context that we created the Balkan Film Market, and, from there, the co-production hub that will allow us to create better projects. It will open the door to anyone interested in co-producing with Italy, so that they can see what spaces and funds are available and find out about potential opportunities.
Starting in Lazio: "When the director of the Luciano Sovena Film Commission visited the Balkan Film Market he realised its potential, and we started thinking about opportunities provided by the Lazio Fund.” A fund which requires fairly high budgets by the Balkans’ standards (€750,000 for debut films, otherwise €1.5 million), where costs are lower, "but some producers are already thinking about co-productions where Balkan countries could enter with minority percentages, before succeeding in accessing Eurimages funding," says Luciano Sovena, adding: "Balkan cinematography is very lively, and in some ways similar to ours, made by people with great experience, great enthusiasm and good stories. All these countries then provide co-productions with state funding, which in some cases can be fairly substantial, and we as a film commission would like to create an ad hoc fund for this area in the industry."
In addition to Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria are also involved. "There`s already a co-development fund between Italy and Macedonia in place, and in March a Serbian delegation will be in Rome," continues Sovena.
At the end of March, we will launch a call for projects: "we will select two or three per country and we will create a catalogue that everyone will send to representatives of the respective film industries," says Priarone. "The next steps will be organised around this, with highlights at Cannes, the MIA in Rome and the Balkan Film Market in Tirana – events that can continue activity on two levels: finding projects that are suitable for co-productions, and encouraging meetings between producers, distributors and broadcasters from each country.”