Eastern Europe Co-Production Event Connecting Cottbus Marks 15th Anniversary

Vali Hotea's "Roxanne"

Networking event that brings Eastern and Western European producers together has helped launched 60 films, including Cannes competition feature "My Joy."

COTTBUS, Germany -- Producers from across Eastern and Central Europe are due to arrive in Cottbus, southeast of Berlin, Thursday for the 15th edition of Co-Co, the Connecting Cottbus co-production market.

The two-day industry event, part of the 23rd edition of the Film Festival Cottbus -- Europe's leading showcase for film from across Eastern Europe, which opened Tuesday -- has developed a reputation as a key networking fixture on the professional calendar in the region.

Since it launched in 1999, the event has helped developed 173 projects of which more than 60 went on to be made and released.

More than 140 industry professionals are expected to attend this year, and 12 projects will be pitched.

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Films that include international festival favorites: Sergei Loznitsa's My Joy, which was in competition in Cannes in 2010; Srdan Golubovic's The Trap, seen in 2007 at Berlinale's Forum; Kamen Kalev's The Island (Cannes, Directors Fortnight, 2011); and Oleg Novkovic's White White World (Locarno, 2010) are among the films that were first pitched at Co-Co sessions.

Combining pitching sessions, one-on-one meetings with fund chiefs and leading producers, and panels on the latest developments in the regional industry, Co-Co had become an important tool for many producers seeking to find co-production partners.

Bernd Buder, the event's director, told The Hollywood Reporter that with political developments over the past 15 years, many of the countries then considered part of Eastern Europe were now full members of the European Union and others were either accession candidates or members of Eurimages and other official regional cinema support programs.

"The pitching sessions and the networking remain critical. Over the years, we've seen a new, younger generation of producers emerge from the region in addition to those who now have substantial experience of pan-regional co-productions," Buder said. "The funding landscape keeps on changing, and keeping people abreast of what is going on is also an essential part of the event."

Five films developed at Co-Co have been on the international festival circuit this year, including three that are in the main international feature film competition at Cottbus this year: The Priest's Children, by Croatian director Vinko Bresan; Withering by Yugoslavia-born director Milos Pusic; and Roxanne, by Romania's Vali Hotea.

The other two films also screening at Cottbus are Tangerines, by Georgian director Zaza Urushadze, and The Photograph, by Polish director Maciej Adamek.

Film Festival Cottbus runs November 5-10; Co-Co runs Nov. 7-8.