Locarno’s First Look Highlights Growing Strength of Serbian Cinema

Variety | 8/9/2019 | Christopher Vourlias
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History, memory, and female-driven stories mark some of the main themes in the six Serbian films selected for Locarno’s First Look, a pix-in-post strand that represents one of the high points of the mid-summer festival on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

The competitive showcase this year highlights an industry that has become increasingly prolific in the past decade. Thanks in large part to an uptick in government funding, which has opened the door for more international collaborations, it’s also grown in scope and ambition. “The industry itself, in terms of production power, it’s growing,” said First Look project manager Markus Duffner. More importantly, he added, young Serbian producers are “rapidly growing in terms of international industry experience.”

Part - Partnership - Locarno - Film - Center

As part of its partnership with Locarno, Film Center Serbia selected six projects – including five documentary features – with all but one in post-production. Four of the six films are helmed by female directors. As in years past, the First Look spotlight offers an important springboard into the international market: sales agents, distributors and festival programmers flock to this scenic Swiss town every summer.

The program’s track record suggests strong prospects for this year’s participants. Chilean director Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ “To Kill A Man” was a Sundance World Cinema grand jury winner after launching at First Look, while “Parthenon,” a Lithuania-Ukraine-France co-production directed by Mantas Kvedaravicius, will have its premiere this year in Venice Critics’ Week. The impact in Locarno can be immediate: last year Portuguese director Vicente Alves do Ó’s “Sunburn” was acquired by The Open Reel during First Look, while Israeli helmer Elite Zexer’s “Sand Storm” was picked up by Beta Film in 2015 during the works-in-progress event.

Cinema - Arthouse - Map - Thanks - Success

Contemporary Serbian cinema is squarely on the international arthouse map, thanks to recent success stories such as Ognjen Glavonic’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight player “The Load,” and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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