Valéncia Film Afers, the co-production forum of Mostra de València, celebrated its first edition this weekend with an intensive meeting of, on the one hand, invited Mediterranean producers and, on the other, the representatives of the ten projects selected by the organization. In addition, it has been complemented with master classes aimed at the international launch of a film, its tour of festivals and co-production formulas taught by experts such as Rosa Bosch. The Barreira Center for Higher Studies, the Valencian headquarters of the prestigious Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, the only one outside of Italy, hosted the meeting.

The first appointment for everyone was a pitch, that is, a brief presentation of the ten selected projects to all the guests by their producers and/or directors. It was possible to verify the diversity of approaches, themes and also the different stages of development of the chosen titles. For example, in the case of the production ‘A day in march’, only drawings of the main characters could be seen. The Valencian producer Giovanna Ribes introduced the Turkish director Çiğdem Sezgin, with whom she had already collaborated on ‘Suna’, a previous film. However, fragments of a first version of the montage could be seen from others. This is the case of ’50 meters’, in which the Egyptian Yomna Khattab delves into the parallel life of her recently retired father to immerse herself in the stories of her generation and reflect on her own future; the same as ‘A state of distraction’, a comedy in which the Lebanese Elie Khalife humorously fictionalizes how to make movies in a Lebanon on the verge of collapse facing all kinds of challenges. “This is the first time I’ve shared a snippet of the film in public and I’m satisfied to see that the comedy works from the beginning”. The Lebanese also congratulates himself because “there has been no rivalry between the producers with selected films, we have functioned as a great family”. Another comedy with a social tint that was presented from the same country was ‘The sad life of happy pig!’, by Christy Whaibe, starring a boy who works dressing up as pets at events and who decides to avenge the death of his father, murdered by a politician.

There were individual meetings between the film teams and the guest producers, with the presence of names such as Thanassis Karathanos, Roman Paul, Habib Attia, Nadia Turincev, Marina Perales Marhuenda, Rafa Molés, Jessica Khoury or Felipe Lage. The Spanish projects found a good reception, as confirmed by their producers. This is the case of ‘Alegre y olé’, signed by the director Clara Santaolaya under the umbrella of the Valladolid-based production company Batiak Films together with the Peruvian companies La Soga Producciones and Suena Perú. A drama whose filming is projected in our country to portray the life story of a girl with problems who begins an emotional journey with her grandfather suffering from Alzheimer’s. The Valencian producer Paloma Mora, who presented two projects, confirms that she already has an international co-production for both, but was looking for more accomplices. One of them is the film version of the story of “La Pastora”, ‘L’Aguait’, by Marc Ortiz Prades, which seeks to demystify the figure of Teresa/Durriti and Florencio, who was thus known as the intersex maqui that had to become a bandit. Filming will begin in October next year. The other is ‘Nena’, by Gabriel Ochoa, a love story between two women that is forged in maturity after a heterosexual life until then, set in a summer urbanization in 1987 and which will be shot this July in Castellón, Sot de Ferrer or Segorbe.

From Portugal, ‘Savanna and the mountain’, directed by Paulo Carneiro, was selected. The film team shows its satisfaction with the forum: “In Portugal, in forums like this one, after the pitch, you only have individual meetings with those interested in your project; but here we have been able to meet with all the invited producers. With some countries there is no kind of link with mine, so it is difficult to reach agreements; however, we have found a lot of complicity with people like Felipe Lage, given the ties that exist between Galicia and Portugal; also with producers from Lebanon…”. Of course, he confirms that “businesses are usually closed later, in the drinks”.

The Valencian producer Giovanna Rivas is satisfied both with the reception her project has received and with the level of the first edition of the forum: “The level of producers that has come is quite high, because they all have experience in international co-production and they bet on independent films from our league, with budgets between 700,000 euros and 1.2 million”, she assures. Most of them appreciate the organization and that the program has been strictly followed, despite the fact that it was too intense for everything to fit into the weekend.

The surprise has jumped in some cases because the producers of selected projects have been interested in other chosen ones. This is confirmed by the Egyptian producers, the representatives of ‘The pigeon tower’, with which Amal Ramsis enters three female characters in pigeon racing, a game dominated by men who will not accept their entry; and ‘El Max’, a social drama by the Egyptian Amrosh Badr: “We are all producers and some of my chosen colleagues with a project have asked me for the script.” Looking ahead, they suggest: “Now there is no prize, but that is not important. It would be interesting if in the future the forum had a fund from Creative Europe or Media to support the production of countries in the South of the Mediterranean”.

The 37th edition of the festival has the collaboration of the Institut Valencià de Cultura (IVC), Rambleta, València Film Office, Barreira Arte + Diseño and À Punt Mèdia as official media.

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