Russian Virtual Content Market Returns In 2021; Aussie Debut ‘Moja Vesna’ Sets Cast; BFI Muslim Film Charity; Vilnius FF Winners – Global Briefs

The Key Buyers Event: Digital, a film and TV market held in Russia, will return for a third edition in 2021. The event showcases new audiovisual content from the country and highlights emerging talent. This year’s focus will be international co-production, rather than the typical focus on distribution. The event is organized by promotional body Roskino and is supported by the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development of the City of Moscow and the Agency for Creative Industries. The 2020 edition gathered more than 1,400 participants and 600 international distributors from 70 countries, according to Roskino. A new strand will also be inaugurated this year that will highlight Russian projects for global film festival programmers. “Russian content has enjoyed increasing levels of success within the global market over the last three years. Russian films have increasingly become popular – the latest example is Sputnik, a sci-fi horror that has been acquired for an English-language remake in Hollywood. TV drama is being created and consumed at a rapid pace, To The Lake secured a spot-on Netflix’s most-watched chart around the world, including the U.S.,” said Roskino CEO Evgenia Markova. “Following ‘Covid-safe’ guidelines film and high-end TV have been in production since last summer, so national companies will present premiere titles and work-in-progress projects. Key Buyers Event: Digital is an opportunity for the global industry to get an exclusive look at all the new content from Russia.”

EXCLUSIVE: Shooting is underway in Melbourne on Moja Vesna, the feature debut of award-winning Slovenian-Australian writer-director Sara Kern. The pic is produced by Australian and New Zealand production company Sweetshop & Green, which is a partnership between Sweetshop founder Sharlene George and awarded producer Gal Greenspan (Green Productions). After the sudden death of her mother, Moja (10) becomes the unexpected grown-up of her fragmented family, immigrants to suburban Melbourne, seeking to reconcile her troubled, pregnant older sister, Vesna, and disconsolate father, Milos. Casting director Fiona Dann underwent an extensive search for the role of Moja, casting Loti Kovacic, a non-professional actor. Also in the film are Mackenzie Mazur, Gregor Baković, Claudia Karvan and Flora Feldman. The project is being backed by Screen Australia in association with the Slovenian Film Centre. It is financed with support from Film Victoria and Radio Television Slovenija (RTV), and developed through the Torino Film Lab and Cannes Cinéfondation Residence. Sara Kern’s 2016 short, Good Luck, Orlo! premiered at the 73rd Venice Film Festival and went on to screen at Toronto. Moja Vesna will be produced by Gal Greenspan and Sharlene George of Sweetshop & Green and Rok Biček, of Cvinger Film. “We are very grateful to our Australian and Slovenian colleagues who have been instrumental in bringing this first ever Slovenian-Australian co-production to life in Melbourne. It will be fascinating to see director Sara Kern and Slovenian cinematographer Lev Predan Kowarski teaming up together again to work their magic and create another gem in Australia,” commented Gal Greenspan.

The British Film Institute has launched a new charity aimed at challenging Muslim stereotypes on screen. UK Muslim Film will advise the entertainment industry on how to better represent Muslims on screen, support, nurture and fund projects from emerging storytellers and be a port of call for authentic Muslim representation. ”UK Muslim Film was created as a response to my many years of working within the industry both in front of and behind the camera and realising that Muslims need to be represented at all levels, in writer’s rooms and as commissioners,” said founder and CEO Sajid Varda.

The 26th edition of the Vilnius Film Festival came to a close this week with the announcement of European Debut, Short, and Audience Award competition winners. The fest held a Covid-safe format this year in collaboration with the Lithuanian capital’s top hotels, creating vacation-at-home experiences where audience members could tune in to the fest from their rooms. Organizers said that in total 100,000 viewers tuned in to the wider event. The award winners were as follows:

Best Film: Gritt (dir. Itonje Søimer Guttormsen)
Best Actress: Birgitte Larsen (Gritt)
Best Actor: Pierre Deladonchamps (Rascal)
Best Director: Ainhoa Rodríguez (Destello bravió)
Special Mention: Feast (dir. Tim Leyendekker)

Best Film: Places (dir. Vytautas Katkus)
Special Mention: Fish Like Us (dir. Raphaela Schmid)

BEST FILM: Quo vadis, Aida? (dir. Jasmila Žbanić)
BEST SHORT FILM: The Little Bird and the Bees (dir. Lena von Döhren)
BEST LITHUANIAN FILM: Swamp (dir. Klementas Davidavičius)

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