How Sarajevo is shaping Balkan talent for the world – Deadline

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This may be Maša Marković’s first year leading the industry at the Sarajevo Film Festival, but for the longtime festival employee, it’s business as usual.

CineLink Industry Days has long been considered the industry’s premier hub for South East European film professionals and has played a vital role in nurturing talent and expanding content and co-productions in the region. . This year marks the 20th anniversary of its co-production market, which showcases ten of the region’s most promising feature film projects in development and, according to Marković, this year’s strand is better than ever.

“We really focus on the quality of the projects and what we can co-create,” she says. “That’s been our goal for a very long time, and that’s why our place in the European market is very important because it’s really focused on a high level of preservation.”

The Industry Stream prides itself on facilitating emerging voices and building them from the ground up. Over the years, it has carefully created an ecosystem where the potential talent journey can start with networking and making contacts at the event, then show up in its co-production market and, in the next stage, go to work in progress. section before a hopeful premiere at the festival.

“It is so important for us to follow these talents at the start of their careers and to support them during the most important five or six years of their careers,” says Marković, of the market, which is launched in cooperation with the Doha Film Institute. and takes an invited project from the MENA region accordingly.

Sarajevo Film Festival

Six years ago, the festival launched its CineLink Drama section, a co-funding forum that showcases six high-end drama series in development in the region to major European and regional broadcasters, VoD and SVoD operators and distributors.

“We started this at a time when there was no money in the region for TV series and we wanted to help drive change,” says Marković. “We have great talents in writing, directing and producing and this whole shift towards the drama series business requires a different production setup, different source materials and different skill sets. Our idea at the start was that the money will eventually come if people are qualified enough and if you don’t have the skills available for the very first transition, it won’t work.

Their efforts are paying off: one of the previous winners of the CineLink Drama section was a Croatian series The Last Socialist Artifactwhich hit the screen at Series Mania last year while the Croatian-Ukrainian series The silencewhich also grew out of the festival’s drama section, was acquired by HBO Max this year.

“We knew we had to push the industry in a certain direction, and we had to encourage people by helping them develop their ideas and understand how international networks and international TV communities work,” she says.

Marković is proud of what she describes as an “incredibly strong” work-in-progress section this year and although she normally only selects ten projects, this year she has chosen 12.

“This section is a very good insight into the vitality of this part of the world in terms of artistic quality,” she says.

A big directive for the Industry Stream this year is to focus on training young producers in the region to meet the demand for content as it launches its first CineLink Producers’ Lab. Nineteen young producers have been selected to take part in the program, which will see them align with a network of senior producers and gain a better understanding of digital supply chain changes in the marketplace.

“We realized that what is missing at the moment is this whole new generation of junior producers who spent the beginning of their career behind screens because of the pandemic, and were unable to meet other people,” she says. “This year, we decided to launch CineLink Producers’ Lab to connect junior producers with senior producers who have a wealth of experience and contacts. It’s so important because they’re going to be the next generation of production talent that will drive this industry forward.

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