Cyprus Film Days’ industry platform has organised a live panel discussion zooming in on the dynamics and challenges of co-productions within the Mediterranean

Cyprus Film Days’ industry platform, Industry Days, has organised a live panel discussion aiming to explore the dynamics and challenges of co-productions within the Mediterranean. The head of the event, Danae Stylianou, offered a brief overview of the debate, which was organised in collaboration with the Israel Cinema Project - Rabinovich Foundation.

The discussion was moderated by Osnat Bukofzer, director of international affairs and co-production consultant at the foundation, who also mentioned that it should be natural to have a lot of co-productions between Cyprus and Israel in particular. However, this currently doesn’t happen all that often, and she expressed her hope that things would change soon.

Israeli producer Efrat Cohen, of Tel Aviv-based Gaudeamus Productions, who works mainly with first-time directors making low-budget films, underlined that the most important asset is passion and the ability to use all available tools for a production. Despite myriad attempts to set up a co-production with France for The Dive [+] by Yona Rozenkier, this was not possible for practical reasons, but the film did get selected and received an award at the Locarno Film Festival. Cohen explained the importance of exposing a project in development to an international audience, first starting off with Israeli markets and then venturing abroad to industry events and workshops mainly in Europe. Indeed, this has been her experience with Grocery by Yuval Shani, which is planned as a co-production.

On Bukofzer’s question about the role of sales agents, Cohen mentioned that it is very important to have them on board before shooting, and even from the draft stage. This helps build a relationship with the people who will present the film and results in a closer involvement of partners at the early stages – partners that can also offer different points of view when needed. As for the right co-producer, Cohen added that it is necessary to use your instinct because partnerships are based on communication. Therefore, you should feel comfortable enough to share your doubts and hesitations, and you need to trust the people you are getting “married” to.

Bukofzer mentioned that Israel has had a co-production agreement in place with Italy since 1973, but the two countries only decided to activate it two years ago. Italian producer Marica Stocchi (of Rosamont Pictures), who was behind the first Israeli-Italian co-production, Here We Are by Nir Bergman, and Honeymood by Talya Lavie, mentioned that she was lucky enough to meet Israeli producer Jonathan Doweck (of Spiro Films) during a lab in Rotterdam, and thanks to a mutual interest in their projects, they began to trust one another. They decided to partner up before the ministries had activated the bilateral treaty, and it was a mere coincidence that they happened to apply at the exact time it was renewed. The experience was highly positive, and she is now working with more production companies in Israel. Stocchi also gave a quick overview of how the minority co-production scheme works at MiBACT, offering some quick tips for co-productions with Italy.

Producers and directors Marios Piperides and Janine Teerling, of Nicosia-based AMP Filmworks, are developing Patchwork, the first co-production between Cyprus and Israel, with Greece and Slovenia also on board as minority partners. It is being directed by Petros Charalambous and Teerling. The project was presented at Mannheim and Cottbus, and the producers met Israeli producer Marek Rozenbaum (of Transfax Film Productions) at the former festival; they subsequently discussed all of the details leading up to a collaboration. The fact that they were located in the same region, with a similar climate, culture and mentality, also proved to be a great help. As the co-production agreement between Cyprus and Israel hasn’t yet been ratified by Cyprus, the team needed more countries to get on board, and since a Greek co-producer had been involved from the beginning, Slovenia got involved for the post-production. Piperides underlined that putting many different people together like this creates a certain pressure to collaborate efficiently while at the same time ensuring that everyone is making the same film. This might be difficult, but trust is key to this kind of collaboration, as it is important to build relationships that can also work over a long period of time and not just for one single co-production.

The panel was rounded off with Bukofzer asking for tips on how to find the right co-producers. Stocchi mentioned that if you feel good about a meeting on a personal level, it’s a positive sign. Furthermore, every successful co-production starts at the development stage, and it is important to be patient and listen to your partners. Cohen agreed, opining that the main thing is to build up a long-term relationship. You should start your journey together with a co-producer, and even if it fails, this journey will establish the necessary connection to make it happen next time. Teerling and Piperides also focused on nourishing a relationship that can work over a period of time, as mutual trust strengthens cooperation whenever the right project comes along. However, not all films are suitable as co-productions, so you should also choose wisely.

published on cineuropa
written byVassilis Economou