School of Film Agents Coming to Poland

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Berlinale president Dieter Kosslick

A new annual training program for industry professionals launches in mid-August.

WROCLAW, Poland -- A new annual training program for film industry professionals involved in festivals, education, marketing and other cinema-related projects will launch in Poland in mid-August.

The School of Film Agents (SOFA) is the brainchild of Nikolay Nikitin, a program adviser for Eastern Europe at the Berlin Film Festival, and has the backing of Berlinale president Dieter Kosslick.

An annual two-week training program for film industry professionals involved in the network of cinema-related activities across Germany, Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Georgia, SOFA is designed to allow for a cross-fertilization of ideas.

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Supported financially by the Polish Film Institute, the city of Wroclaw, the New Horizons Association, MEDIA Desk Poland and other cultural and governmental organizations, the $185,000 project has funding through 2016.

Announcing the project Friday in Wroclaw during the T-Mobile New Horizons Film Festival, Nikitin said that many publicly funded projects in Europe helped writers, directors, producers and distributors but there was nothing specifically for those involved in wider artistic and cultural ventures related to the film industry.

"This is a workshop initiative that focuses on supporting the execution of innovative film and cinema projects from young filmmakers," Nikitin said.

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The first edition of SOFA, which will run from August 19 to 30, has 10 participants working on projects including creating a film museum in Kiev, the first art-house cinema in Georgia, a website that allows producers and directors to track the success of their films showing at film festivals worldwide, a traveling film festival on the German-Polish border and other endeavors.

"The projects share the potential to strengthen the film culture as well as industry in their respective countries," Nikitin added.

Participants in the first edition include Ketie Danelia of Ablabuda Film, Tbilisi; Jan Naszewski of New Europe Film Sales, Warsaw; and Mira Staleva of the Sofia International Film Festival.

Tutors and mentors include Claudia Dillmann of the German Film Institute; Marion Doring of the European Film Academy; Roman Gutek, founder of the New Horizons film festival and head of Gutek Film; Karel Och, of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and Katriel Schory of the Israel Film Fund.