Since its first edition in 2013 the Baltic Pitching Forum, an initiative of some of the most important film festivals and film companies from across the Baltic region, empowers filmmakers by given them unparalleled access to pitch training alongside important advice from some of the leading lights in the European film industry.
From it’s very beginning, the idea of the BPF was simple. Nine short film projects, three from each of the Baltic countries, are invited to Vilnius in October. A day of intensive pitch training is followed by each participant pitching their project to a panel of leading industry experts. Alongside giving live feedback to each participant, the panel choose one project to attend the European Short Film Co-production Forum Euro Connection (part of the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival) while another is awarded with participant rights at the scriptwriting workshop and co-production event European Short Pitch organised by NISI MASA. Since 2017 a Lithuanian producers’ jury selects a project which is given Lithuanian Producers MEDIA Award of 1000€. This year the BPF will also welcome a guest country, with 2019 seeing Finland present projects.
Ever since the first edition there have been successes for projects pitched at the BPF. Alumni of the inaugural edition, Latvian directors Lauris Abele & Raitis Abele would go on to win the Grand Prix at the prestigious Tampere Film Festival with their project Castratus The Boar.
Another award winner is Bad Hair, an Estonian horror short that was pitched at the BPF in 2014 under the name of Karv. After a production process of five years, the film was finally completed in 2019 and premiered at the Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival (HÕFF) in 2019 and was awarded a Silver Méliès, one of the top awards for genre films. “The biggest success was winning the 2014 BPF,” explained Bad Hair’s director Oskar Lehemaa. “As a reward we got to attend Euro Connection at Clermont-Ferrand, where we made many interesting contacts. Most importantly, the good feedback we got at BPF gave us a lot of confidence and energy to move forward with our weird short film.”
Another huge success was Lithuanian animation The Juggler (dir. Skirmanta Jakaitė) which, after being pitched in 2016, would premiere at Dok Leipzig in 2018 and go on to screen in the likes of Annecy, Rotterdam and Vienna. “We won one of the awards at BPF and got selected for the Euro Connection pitching forum,” explained producer Agnė Adomėne talking about the benefits of the BPF. “There we met our French co-producer Delphine Schmit and we received production funding both in Lithuania and France.”
Another animation that the BPF has proved a huge part of is Riga’s Lilac from Latvian director Lizete Upīte. After being pitched in 2016, and winning participant rights at the European Short Pitch 2017 by NISI MASA, the film is poised to have a domestic premiere at the Riga International Film Festival in September 2019. “BPF pushed forward the development of Riga’s Lilac and I have never been more happy about the outcome,” said Upīte. “The BPF gave me a new confidence and understanding about my project. After the pitch I realised the direction I must go and the changes I must make.”
Klementina Remeikaite, the producer of Lithuanian film By The Pool (dir. Laurynas Bareiša, pitched at BPF in 2015 as Bathhouse), which would go on to premier at the Venice Film Festival in 2017 also agrees that the BPF was an important element in helping to push the film forward. “In my opinion the biggest success was the first step into the international film industry. Even now we still meet some participants from the BPF and it’s really useful if you’re developing some projects and have the possibility to ask for info, contacts, festivals, recommendations or just have some nice small talk. The BPF taught me to understand that filmmaking is a global process and it doesn’t end in your country.”
“Thanks to the Baltic Pitching Forum, we’ve connected Baltic filmmakers with the likes of Venice, Cannes, New Europe Film Sales, the Swedish Film Institute, YLE (Finnish Television) and many other industry players who have made up the panel and given invaluable feedback,” explained Rimantė Daugėlaitė from Lithuanian Shorts, the chief organizer of the Baltic Pitching Forum. “And it shows in many of our alumni who were given the confidence to go out there and push their projects forward, many of them utilizing the advice there were given at the BPF. And let’s not forget that those who end up not being selected to go the likes of Euro Connection or European Script Pitch still have an invaluable weekend of training and networking that has served many well in their subsequent careers. We look forward to the new talents – as well as previous alumni – who will attend the BPF in 2019 and beyond.”
The 2019 edition of the Baltic Pitching Forum will take place October 10th-12th in Vilnius. It is organized by Lithuanian Shorts, in partnership with PÖFF Shorts, Riga IFF (Short Riga), Riga ISFF 2ANNAS and the Estonian Short Film Center. The Finnish partners for the BPF are the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK) and the Finnish Film Foundation. The project is supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture, AVEK, Nordic Culture Point, Audiovisual Works Copyright Association AVAKA, Vilnius City Municipality.
The application deadline for the 7th edition of the Baltic Pitching Forum is August 9th 2019.