The 8th edition of SOFA – School of Film Advancement has invited 10 participants from eight different countries having nine great projects in tow! Find out more about the SOFA class of 2020 / 2021 down below!
Igor Mašera has been working in the audiovisual industry since 2004. He has taken various roles in film, TV and commercial production, as well as in organizing film festivals and other cultural events in Slovenia. Currently working at the Slovenian Film Centre as a Production Coordinator and as Head of the Coproduction Meeting at the 23rd Slovenian Film Festival. He joined Slovenian Film Database – BSF project in 2019 as an expert adviser for communicating and negotiating with partners and is the project manager of BSF – LUX, using his industry network and insight for building a bridge between filmmakers and film audience. For as long as he can remember, he has been involved in projects that create, inspire and connect. At the center of his motivation is the belief, that we are co-responsible for the environment in which we live in, therefore turning challenging ideas into public benefit represents the ultimate satisfaction for hard work and joint efforts.
BSF-LUX is a VOD platform for Slovenian films. It is an integral part of an already existing platform called The Slovenian Film Database - BSF, which is the biggest publicly accessible online film database focused on Slovenian cinema. Contrary to most other platforms, BSF-LUX will provide access to Slovenian audiovisual works for as long as possible, preferably indefinitely. In that way, BSF-LUX acts as an online Archive of Slovenian film and AV works and integrates seamlessly with all of the free content available through the parent Slovenian film database platform - BSF. Giving the general public a unique opportunity to watch the films and learn more about the filmmakers, stars and the film industry, and for the production companies as well as filmmakers the chance to sell their films. As a niche platform, started and maintained by filmmakers, we also want to be a transparent and fair company that puts filmmakers and the industry in the forefront.
Ru Hasanov, born in 1987, studied Theater and Film at Bates College, USA. Worked for Vice Media in NYC and “Telekanal Dozhd” in Moscow. Was head of post-production department at “Vita Aktiva” Institute for Communications, where he edited over a dozen award-winning films. His feature debut “Chameleon” co-directed with Elvin Adigozel was nominated for a Golden Leopard at Locarno Film Festival in 2013. His recent feature film “The Island Within” received support from the National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image in Paris and was invited to Sarajevo Film Festival’s Official Competition in 2020. EAVE Alumni and Berlinale Talents Network. Director of “Debut” Film Studio in Baku since January 2020.
In recent years Azerbaijani cinema landscape has witnessed a rapid emergence of young independent directors and producers, who are actively trying to deliver films capable of making their ways into the European and world arthouse scene. Filmmakers have been selected and/or awarded at film festivals including, but not limited to Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam, Locarno, Busan and Sarajevo. Nevertheless, the state film funding policy still fails to tap into this potential, with the Ministry of Culture remaining the only source of financing for cinema in Azerbaijan. As the independent filmmakers have little chance to be successful in script competitions and associated funding, they usually invest money from other economic activities, including their own resources. The average budgets of the aforementioned independently produced films hardly exceed 100,000 EUR. Thus, the lack of financial diversification in the film sector is probably the most serious obstacle to overcome. There is apparent need for the launch of an alternative, independent Azerbaijani film fund, which would help raise international interest in the local film production as well as encourage cross-border cooperation.
Janka Pozsonyi is a journalist, an editor and a photographer for Film.hu, a 20 year old online magazine, focusing on contemporary Hungarian and international cinema. She holds a MA Degree in Film Theory and Film History, and she gained experience in festival organising, coordination and programming. She has worked for Daazo Film and Media, organiser of Friss Hús ISFF and for Budapest Classics Film Marathon, as a festival coordinator. Working as a journalist made it possible for her to continue exploring works of young and talented filmmakers and get an insight of the creation and distribution side of filmmaking. Together with her partners at Kontra Film, her goal is to help Hungarian filmmakers to make their voices heard.
Based in Budapest, Kontra Film is a cultural association for promoting, distributing and empowering the independent filmmakers of Hungary. In the current political climate of our country, where the freedom of speech, the independent media and art is persistently under destruction, we want to create a platform for creatives to bring under-represented themes into the public discourse. We’re looking for original stories connected to social issues from new and talented directors. With a diverse background of journalism, documentary filmmaking and art curating, the team of Kontra wants to start a conversation with the audience, especially with young thinkers that want to explore the new territories of alternative film distribution, with non-government funds and scholarships.
Rita Stanelytė has an academic background in journalism and public relations and solid experience in film industry and cultural as well as corporate communication. For 9 years, Rita worked in Vilnius International Film Festival “Kino pavasaris” and held several positions throughout the years: press officer, industry manager, sales and acquisitions and distribution manager. Now she is organizing a Berlin film festival „Litauisches Kino Goes Berlin“, working at the NGO of emotional support in Vilnius and helping young filmmakers to be seen at the festivals and in the local cinemas. Rita is alumni of Locarno Summer academy, EAVE Marketing workshop, “Belt and Road” program of Shanghai IFF, has served as CICAE Jury member of Director’s Fortnight in Cannes 2017.
Mata Hari Communication – a boutique film marketing and promotion consultancy company, focusing on the debut filmmakers from Eastern and Central Europe. Creating a position of Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) and working with the debut films from Eastern and Central Europe and helping them to surf their way through the seas of overproducing and distribution. PMD is not so common in this part of Europe, therefore is not always affordable nor comprehensible. “Mata Hari Comm” aim would be to fill that niche and to help young filmmakers to be seen more.
Philipp Maurice Raube, was even as a child inquisitive by the flickering of lights and moving pictures. After he finished his apprenticeship as a graphic designer in Bonn, he expanded his knowledge in the studies of media production at the University of Applied Sciences Ostwestfalen-Lippe where he graduated with the Bachelor of Arts. During his studies he focused on film production and journalism. Subsequent Philipp worked at the Tangram International in Munich and was involved in numerous television productions for ZDF, ARTE and the ARD group. Since 2015, Philipp was studying film and television production at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, with the vision to produce authentic and socially relevant films, which he emphasized 2018 in producing the debut film ´Schwimmen´ which premiered at the 23rd Busan International Filmfestival and won the Gold Award for Best Director at the 52nd International Hof Filmfestival. Since 2018 Philipp has been working in the well known and award winning production company Filmtank under the management of Saskia Kress and Thomas Tielsch. 2019 he joined the Berlin Team after he was in charge of the Stuttgart office. Philipp founded his own production company Die Neue Lux to follow his vision and open the possibilities to produce within the Pan-European market. He has always been involved in the promotion of young german filmmakers. As the artistic director of YOUNG BLOOD, an industry platform during the Berlinale, he offers young filmmakers a forum into the industry and developed the event to an incubator of new german narratives.
Stefanie Gödicke, born 1991 in Stuttgart, founded her first company, the Triebkraft Film while she was studying film production at the well-known Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, Germany. As she was always interested in the wider film industry and got inspired by innovative and modern projects and the process of film making around the world, she learned from Jeanette Buerling about the US-film industry in Los Angeles. With this knowledge she went to the main global film market the Marche du Film, the American Film Market and the European Film Market, and started to license films for several periods and territories around the world. While studying at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg she practiced her experiences by working for the moroccan based Kasbah Films under the Management of Karim Debbagh. Her special love for the people and the culture of the region began. She wanted to experience the culture, but even more the professional and global working film industry of Morocco. 2019 the Triebkraft film developed by joining a team of young professional producers to the Kojoten Filmproduktion GmbH and is realising award-winning commercials, and also developing and producing fictional content and documentaries for television and cinema audiences. Working between Germany and Morocco sparked her idea to create a cooperation between the Western and Eastern Film World. She bought an apartment in the old town “Medina” of Marrakech and was from now on working and traveling on the route between Stuttgart and Marrakech.
NewNarratives is an Arabic-European, audiovisual training initiative valuing connection and relationships, bringing creators together. During one year, the participants (usually director-producer duos) will meet in safe spaces to develop and strategize as well as festivals & markets to connect and finance their projects. The initiative will end with a public pitching session during an international film market. Unlike other training initiatives, NewNarratives, aside from content development, focuses on production aspects like marketing and packaging the projects. For example will scripts be discussed with renowned casting agents, to individually put together the most interesting & appealing cast. Together with graphic designers, there will be detailed mood research refined to an appealing pitch. As one group, the creators will be prepared for possible financing and will be triggered to support each other. Geared up with their newly learned expertise, newly found packages as well as refined pitches, the NewNarratives will take their chance in getting financing during the European and Arab markets, always with professional, established advisors by their side. We offer travel, accommodation, film festival accreditations, as well as the workshops, packaging & coachings and hope for our alumni to make the most of it, and conquer the audience.
Victoria Aleksanyan is a director and producer from Armenia. She holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Columbia University of New York. Her student short film Caregivers premiered in the country of production Armenia’s most celebrated film festival – Golden Apricot IFF in 2014 and screened at film festivals in the USA to win an award for Best Foreign Picture at Sunset Film Festival. For more than 6 years Victoria lived and worked in New York. She produced award-winning short films like “The Real American” by Darya Zhuk and “Don’t Think About It” by Niv Kleiner. Her professional experience includes an executive producer credit for “The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West”, a feature documentary, which was acquired and distributed by First Run Features, New York. She worked as an office manager at documentaries department of HBO, assisting an Academy Award winning director Ellen Goosenberg Kent and director/producer Perri Peltz. In 2018 Victoria moved back to Armenia to realize her dream of making films. She takes an active part in Armenia’s film industry reforms as co-founder/president of IFCA Independent Filmmakers Community of Armenia, NGO and teaches various master classes and courses. From 2019 Victoria joined Hoshkee Film and works together with Armine Anda (producer, actress and founder of Hoshkee Film) to collaborate on making films as well as finding and promoting new talent in Armenia. She recently made a short film Flight, which is now in post-production and is working on her first feature. From 2020 Victoria is enrolled as a part-time faculty at RAU Russian-Armenian University, teaching film.
Shortwave lab is a development platform for short films, to be based Armenia. Shortwave is a platform from Armenia, where selected local and international short film projects in development are supported with trainings, mentorships, and finding international collaborators. With Shortwave Armenian Production Grant a number of selected short film projects will be awarded grants towards their production.
Leonid Kalitenya was born in 1971 in Novgorod city and graduated Minsk Radio Engineering University in 1993 and European Humanitarian University (Vilnius, Lithuania) in 2011. He has a Master Degree of Political Science. He gave his producer debut with the short fiction film “Life in a checkered bag” (2012) that was awarded as a best Belarussian short on Bulbamovie Fillm Festival. In 2016, he was the lead producer of the film „Souls Dead“ that won more than 12 awards at film festivals in Russia and EU countries. He was also a co-producer of the feature film „Count in Oranges“ (2015) that won several awards as well. Leonid Kalitenya was a producer of more than 35 film and TV projects: docs, TV and short fiction films, a producer on Bulbamuvie Film Festival in Minsk in 2016 and from 2017-2019 a jury member of Velcom-Smartfilm International Film Festival for mobile films.
Belarus is one of the last countries in the post-Soviet space in which the field of AV art is almost completely monopolized by the state: the main filmmaker Belarusfilm receives 90% of all state subsidies in this field. There is no cinema fund or cinema centers with a policy for the development of cinema. Together with the “digital revolution” in the cinema, over the past five years, the independent film movement has come out of the underground and began to play a significant role in the cultural life of the country. Dozens of new authors appeared who created cinema projects that became winners and awardees of dozens of prestigious international film festivals. But Hundreds of their films are scattered among authors’ personal social pages and festivals catalogs. Most of them are not even known to critics, all the more so to the general public. The proposed project aims at solving the problem of presenting the entire diversity of the existing Belarusian independent cinema on one website and providing new authors access to the public by creating a VoD platform for Belarusian cinema. This cinema platform will contribute to the development of Belarusian cinema, promote new projects and names, both within Belarus and for external interested parties.
Born in Paris, Willy Rollé lives in Stuttgart, Germany. His short film „Art Gallery“ was selected at the Eurochannel TV Short Filmtour, USA. JUSTICE was nominated for the transmedia award TopTalente, 2015. He is also working on the participative writing of a mini-web series. His start-up TAVMA produces with LES VALSEURS „The Syrians“ by Ismaël Louati: Dubai Film Connection Award, Tribeca Film Network Award and Cannes Producer’s Network Award, at the 2017 Dubai Film Festival. In 2019, he is nominated for the Robert Bosch Film Prize for International cooperation. Since 2020, he has been an alternate member of the Hessenfilm Committee.
TAVMA POP-UP is an OTT provider. It is a digital distribution on demand platform for non-theatrical screening. Via the online platform, video and audio content with performing rights are submitted and sold. The platform is responsible for rights management, network planning, marketing, pricing, quality management and customer care/relationship management. The platform connects three groups: pop-up cinema managers, film rights holders and the audience. TAVMA is the people-to-people cinema platform.
Elkjana Gjipali (Director & Screenwriter) has completed her academic studies for ‚Film and Television Directing‘ at the Academy of Arts, Tirana. Over the last 10 years, Elkjana Gjipali has worked as a producer of several short films as well as 4 feature films. Elkjana is active in various educational activities through cinema and in 2017 she founded the film club ‚Kino Tirana‘ which promotes film literacy for kids age from six to seventeen. In 2017, she was selected by the ‘Lead Albania’ program and appointed to the position of advisor at the Ministry of Culture. In 2018, she started working as a lecturer at the University of Durrës, Aleksandër Moisiu, at the Department of Multimedia for the subject Film and Video Production. She has written and directed three short movies ‚Horoscope‘ , ‚Life on a Carousel‘ and „Girls“. She is the producer of the feature film “ The Lions Heading Venice“and one off web series of Circe project: „The sweet Dealer“. She is also an activist for woman rights and environment.
Tirana Film Commission would provide assistance for location scouting in Tirana, regulate the authorization of filming permits in the Municipality of Tirana, assist production to find local services and local talent. Beside this kind of assistance with a found provided from the municipality, there will also be an incentive scheme for those companies who chose to shoot in Tirana/Albania. TFC will be registered as a non profit center. It will have: a film commissioner, a board and three departments. The department of the promotion of the TFC and its services inside and outside of Albania; a legal & finance department for all the contracts and audits and last but not least a “movies go green” where it will held trainings and workshops for local companies to start practicing green sets and finding better solutions to be sustainable.