International Report From the Field with Cynthia Kane

Posted on June 10, 2009

The 49th Krakow Film Festival kicked off with Paul Mazursky’s Yippee: A Journey to Jewish Joy as its opening night film, which was followed almost immediately by the Polish premiere of UNMISTAKEN CHILD, an ITVS International co-production with filmmaker Nati Baratz who introduced the film to the jammed-packed theater with renowned Polish director Andrzej Wajda in attendance. Now I must say I have admired Mazursky for a long time and even loved some of his films. 

This one was a lot of fun (and at times LOL-fun) watching Mazursky and gang travel to Uman in the Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah to celebrate joyously at the burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the founder of Kabbalah. And might I add, slightly different in tone to UNMISTAKEN CHILD. By the end of the week, Nati was awarded the Best Documentary Feature Prize––the Golden Horn for “both an impressive, thorough and undoubtedly genuine and intimate” documentary about a Buddhist monk’s pursuit of the reincarnation of his beloved lama. A documentary “that transforms into a story about the mystery of human life, and a perfect combination of an attractive form and intimate portrait of a deeply believing monk and his relationship with the unmistaken little boy.”

Krakow is kind of the perfect place to attend a film festival. It’s the artistic and cultural center of Poland with four universities on hand, an exquisite former capital that survived complete destruction during World War II. You can watch a number of films and then either take a meditative walk along the greenway that marks the former city walls or find yourself in a bar like Singer in the Kazimierz neighborhood (the old Jewish quarter) discussing for hours what you’ve just seen. It’s paradise for a film and doc nerd like me. I presented ITVS International at the Krakow Film Market and had a packed auditorium in the National Museum. Since Nati was in town, I invited him to the front to speak about his experiences making the film and working with us. I know the logistics about how we work, what we’re looking for and our next International Call deadline (on February 5, 2010) are useful, but there’s no better way for filmmakers and producers to understand and know ITVS than through their filmmaking peers. 

Immediately afterward, I was once again talking on a panel about international co-production with Stefan Kloos (Rise and Shine Sales), UK/US producer Steven Seidenberg, Danielle DiGiacomo (Indie Pix), Patricia Finneran (Sundance Documentary Program) and Ina Rossow (Deckert Film Distribution). Later, a group of us joined the Andrzej Wajda Film School’s dinner in a wonderful old restaurant in the Kazimierz and then a festival and film market party. 

Dragon Forum is an annual documentary film workshop in the middle of Europe. It included pitching and giving practical advice on development and production of a film for international audiences produced by Dorota Roszkowska and Arkana Studio with support from the Andrze Wajda Film School. Earlier in the week, the workshop gathered for the third and final time to rehearse their project pitches, then for the following two days, commissioning editors from the Polsih broadcasters as well as from all over Europe and two Americans --me and Patricia Finneran on Sundance--participated in the pitching forum. 

The tutors on hand included filmmakers Rada Sesic and Marcel Lozinski, producer Steven Seidenberg and Simone Bauman moderated the sessions where 24 projects were presented. It was a wonderful chance to encounter this group of filmmakers from parts of the world we want to reach out to with the hopes of funding in future calls. Sadly I had to leave beautiful Krakow... and my next challenge was to get back to San Francisco in time for our annual Diversity Retreat! 

-Cynthia, ITVS International Programming Manager


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