STRUGGLE AND SEARCH
“You want to make God laugh – talk to him about your plans”. I don’t know whether there is another land in the world where this phrase so precisely corresponds to the truth. Last year the plans for the development of pitching sessions at Kinotavr seemed absolutely realisable. Who could know that the structure of financing for the industry would change again, and change so significantly? Who could foresee that the film industry would again freeze in fearful expectation, and that co-production, which aroused so many hopes, would again become one of the most illusive and risky paths? But here we are again. Each paragraph of this text should now begin with “despite of…”.
Despite of the fact that pitching has extended in Russia practically into all areas, it still remains a tool that can “grow”. In order for pitching to really work, alternative sources of financing, private funds, various forms of investment, and co-production are needed. Yet there is none of all this, and despite all odds pitching continues to develop wildly: the need for new people, ideas, and stories is too great, and there is no better means to find a partner, a professional, a colleague.
Despite of the fact that there is no alternative financing, projects continue to be made. From nine films presented at Kinotavr in 2011, six are shot or are being shot. That is a lot. A little smaller are the figures when analysing the state of projects from last year, but then cinema has never been “quick” to make.Despite of the fact that the projects “The Habit of Leaving”, “Celentano”, “I am Twenty” were singled out by the professional audience at the Pitching 2012, they are being made by directors practically independently, under the jealous and steadfast eye of those who have not taken the risk to invest in these projects financially and administratively.
Despite of the fact that an impressive number of producers emerge from the film institutes every year, only a handful of them can work in their specialism. Therefore it is especially hard to select projects sent by these “producers” for pitching. On the other hand, more and more interesting ideas, stories and crews gather around non-professionals. It is obvious that today the experience of life, common sense and professional practice are much more important for cinema than a theoretical foundation, while inversely the pattern of presence of an education and absence of the rest does not work at all. In this situation, talented directors more and more often turn into producers of their own stories, which is neither good nor bad, but simply the only way out for those who want to shoot what they consider necessary. The Patience Game of the Pitching 2013, for example, lays out as follows: From the selected twelve projects, four are presented by directors without producers, three by producers who have come to cinema from quite different professional backgrounds, and only five projects are presented by a professional or “correct” crew of directors/producers (with the footnote that one of these is a German co-production).
Despite of the fact that it is the eternal dream of producers to make a comedy, and the dream of spectators to watch a comedy, nobody writes comedies. If last year there were at least some attempts to master this artful genre, today practically all the selected projects are strong dramas, which can easily be imagined in a European context. In Russia their fate will certainly be more difficult. Although, for example, the project “To Be” is bound to attract attention: a director’s debut by the well-known scriptwriter Nana Grinshtein (“Peter FM” and “Plus One”), which – in its structural complexity and refinement – reminds of the scripts of the legendary Charlie Kaufman; or the poetic parable of “The Seagull” by the young director Elza Manzheeva.
Despite of the infinite revolutions in the sphere of film production and continuously changing rules of the game, the desire to work in an unprofitable, non-profitable, unstable and all sorts of non- and un- ways persists, and the industry does not decrease in size. Why – that is the question.
Apparently, therefore, we continue to develop the pitching at Kinotavr. Because quantity at some point must reflect on the quality, and any revolution at some point must give way to evolution. Who knows: maybe next year, when the fever of the Sochi Olympics is over – leaving behind nice hotels, new cinemas and foreign visitors who have learnt to pronounce “Sochi” – our chief festival platform might receive a new stimulus for growth and productivity. In any case, struggle and search is always more fascinating than “surrender and sink” – even when the second option seems much more rational.
The “Kinotavr” pitching curator
PRODUCER: Nikolay Babich
PRODUCER: Alexander Karavaev
THE MYSTERY OF SUKHAREVA TOWER
PRODUCER: Alexander Gerasimov
THE GUARDIANS. THE FIFTH RUNE
PRODUCER: Ilya Popov, Peter Zaytsev
PRODUCER: Elena Glikman
PRODUCER: Dmitry Tulchinsky
DIRECTOR: Andrey Zagiddulin
DIRECTOR: Dasha Khudoleeva
DIRECTOR: Anna Sarukhanova
PRODUCER: Tatyana Voronetskaya
PRODUCER: Vitaly Eroshenya
And German-Russian coproduction project LAST MINUTE PRODUCERS: Damian Oliver, Elena Szameitat