Rotterdam: CineMart Announces Award Winners

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Lucretia Martel

New projects by established auteurs Lucrecia Martel and Yorgos Lanthimos and first-time feature director Johannes Nyholm take home honors from the fest's co-production market.

ROTTERDAM -- International Film Festival Rotterdam’s co-production market, CineMart, concluded Wednesday with its three awards going to two well-known arthouse names and a director planning to make his first feature-length film.

Sweden’s Johannes Nyholm, who has ben, up until now, known for his short films and music videos, won the Eurimages Award and its prize money of 30,000 euros with his project The Giant, a story about a physically deformed character dreaming of becoming a 50-feet behemoth after the death of his mother. The Denmark-Swedish co-production is backed by Beofilm Productions ApS and Garagefilm International AB.

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The latest project from Argentina’s festival-circuit regular Lucrecia Martel (The Swamp, The Headless Woman ) was given the WorldView New Genres Fund Development Award (with a prize of 5,000 euros). Her period drama Zama is an adaptation of Antonio Di Bennedetto’s novel about a 17th century Spanish colonial official awaiting his transfer from Asuncion (now in Paraguay) to Buenos Aires. The project is, like her previous films, produced by Lita Stantic Producciones and Pedro Almodovar’s El Deseo.

CineMart’s third prize, the ARTE France Cinema Award, went to Dogtooth and Alps director Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, with a story set in a future where singles are rounded up in institutions and forced to find a partner within 45 days -- and if they fail, they will be transformed into an animal of their choice. The production will be an UK-Ireland-Greece project backed by Element Pictures, Limp and Scarlet Films.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter before the awards announcement on Wednesday, International Film Festival Rotterdam’s head of industry and CineMart, Marit van den Elshout, said the world’s oldest co-production market -- it was founded in 1984 and is now in its 30th edition -- remains very close to the festival’s spirit of providing a platform for quality projects to seek funding in increasingly challenging economic times.

Boasting 33 projects from 31 countries this year, CineMart appeals to filmmakers because of its openness to the possibilities of art films and the opportunities here for projects to be greeted with potential financiers with an open mind, said Van den Elshout. “Of course we wanted people to do business here, but we want a more open dialogue about projects, about how they can structure their projects.”

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CineMart has reaped rich harvests down the years, with 16 previous projects making it into the festival’s program this year -- among them three entries (The Resurrection of a Bastard, Silent Ones and Dummy Jim) in competition for the top prize, the Hivos Tiger Award.

And rather than competing with other film markets, CineMart aims more to collaborate, she said -- as seen in the close working relationship with the Berlinale’s co-production market, which begins next week. In what is known as the Rotterdam-Berlinale Express, three projects (from Martel, Alice Rohrwacher and Matt Porterfield) beginning its market life at CineMart will travel onwards to the Berlinale.

“There’s a tendency for festivals to set up funds and compete with each other over the heads of filmmakers,” said Van den Elshout. “But we are here to support, I think it’s essential we collaborate, and that’s why we worked with CPH:DOX rather than to get exclusivity or claims to filmmakers.”

The CineMart head is referring to Art:Film, a program jointly organized with the Danish documentary festival which presents five feature-film projects from artists. Included in the slate is Willie Doherty’s Amnesia; La Distancia from Sergio Caballero, who won the IFFR’s Tiger Award in 2011 with Finisterre; Fiona Tan’s Future Histories; Subconscious Society by Rosa Barba; and Pierre Basmuth’s Where is Rocky II?

“The festival has a long tradition of being on two worlds -- we’ve worked a lot with artists, and we always had programs like Exploding Cinema to look at how art and film meet,” said Van den Elshout. “So it’s more than natural -- we were selecting these projects already but we are putting it in the normal framework of Cinemart. And we found sometimes for these filmmakers it’s difficult to find a connection with the more traditional or conventional film industry. So we wanted to help them because there’s a lot of talk around festivals about art in film, and we wanted to be more practical and give them a special space in the market; and also to find a way to bring in [art world] professionals at Cinemart looking for films to finance and sell, like museums or galleries representatives.”