The most recent edition of the Baltic Pitching Forum, which took place in Vilnius, Lithuania 6th-7th October, saw projects from each Baltic country walking away with a prize.
The project with the opportunity to go to Euro Connection was the Estonian film Dark Side Of The Earth (Maa Varjatud Pool) directed by Urmas Nimetu and produced by Peeter Urbla through Estonia’s ExitFilm. A dark post-apocalyptic drama set in a world devastated by climate change, the film follows two people who find out the world might not be as uninhabited as they think.
Urmas Nimetu, the director of Dark Side Of The Earth (Maa Varjatud Pool) said: “I was very surprised: we didn’t expect to be the winners. I’m shocked a bit. But for our project, it’s a great opportunity to go to Clermont because we have a quite expensive film and we are looking at finding collaborators from abroad, and I think Clermont is the best place to find them.“
Visiting the European Short Pitch, to be held in January and March 2018, will be the Lithuanian project Elena. Produced by Agnė Adomėnė and directed by Birutė Sodeikaitė, the film is a puppet animation the looks at the haunting power of grief and the choices one must make. The film is under production company Art Shot, who won at the 2016 edition of the Baltic Pitching Forum with the film The Juggler.
Agnė Adomėnė, the producer of Elena said: “Winning is always great, but it’s also about this opportunity to learn so much about your project. The Baltic Pitching Forum really good training and it’s highly recommended that you do it!”
For the first time the Lithuanian Producers MEDIA Award, initiated by the Creative Europe Desk Lithuania MEDIA office, was also given out with a value of 500 EUR. The award was given by a panel of luminaries within the Lithuanian film industry – film producer Ieva Norviliene, documentary maker Dagnė Vildžiūnaitė and film producer Kęstutis Drazdauskas – and ultimately went to Latvian mockumentary The Ritual, directed by Aivars Madris and produced by Sergei Serpuhov. The film looks at the secret fertility rituals behind the Latvian Song and Dance Festival.
Aivars Madris, the director of The Ritual said: “I actually don’t know what to say, I am so nervous and excited. Of course, I am very happy not only about our success but I am very happy about the Baltic Pitching Forum. It was very exciting and it is very intense also. That was the first pitch for me and I learned many useful things.”
The 2017 edition of the Baltic Pitching Forum saw participants receive guidance and tutelage of BPF Trainer Gabriele Brunnenmeyer who spent first day instructing them on the art of the pitching and giving them tips on presenting their projects. This advice was used the next day when pitching in front of the invited panel of experts.
This year’s panel consisted of Gunhild Enger (Norway, BAFTA nominated filmmaker), Marcin Łuczaj (Poland, New Europe Film Sales), Aneta Ozorek (Poland, Visegrad Animation Forum), Julie Rousson (France, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival), Wim Vanacker (France, NISI MASA – the European Network of Young Cinema), Sari Volanen (Finland, YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company) and Stine Wangler (Germany, KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg).
To celebrate five years of the Baltic Pitching Forum, alumni from previous years were invited back to talk about their experiences and share how the BPF had helped them. Latvian filmmakers Lauris and Raitis Ābele, whose film Castratus the Boar pitched at the first Baltic Pitching Forum ended up winning the Grand Prix at the Tampere Film Festival, regaled the audience with stories of shooting in pig pens with expensive cameras and recounted how the Forum managed to get them a producer and an ending to their film. Lithuanian producer Klementina Remeikaite told the tale of how By The Pool, went from the 2015 Baltic Pitching Forum to a world premiere in competition at the 2017 Venice Film Festival. Estonian director Anna Hints talked about Ice (Jää) and finding her way to French co-producers to finish the film.
Marija Razgute, Head of Lithuanian Shorts and chief organiser of the Baltic Pitching Forum said: “We had an amazing 2017 edition of the Baltic Pitching Forum were we initiated new ideas – such as the Lithuanian Producers MEDIA Award – as well as celebrated the past successes of the event. We’re looking forward to the future as the Baltic Pitching Forum continues to forge a reputation as an important event not just within the Baltics but also for the international industry as they strive to spot new talents.”
Baltic Pitching Forum is organised by Lithuanian Short Film Agency Lithuanian Shorts in partnership with Riga International Film Festival (Latvia), Riga International Film Festival 2ANNAS (Latvia), PÖFF Shorts (Estonia) and Estonian Short Film Center ShortEst.
It is supported by the Norden – Nordic Culture Point, Audiovisual Authors and Producers Rights Association AVAKA and Lithuanian Council for Culture. Other partners – Lithuanian Film Centre, Creative Europe Desk Lithuania MEDIA Office, Estonian Film Institute and National Film Centre of Latvia.