ROTTERDAM 2000 FEATURE: CineMart Invests in the Future
by Mark Adams
(indieWIRE/1.31.2000) -- Now in an impressive 17th year, the CineMart, staged as part of the Rotterdam International Film Festival, continues to attract a fascinating and extremely diverse group of film projects in development. The mini-market, which runs January 30 to February 3, very much reflects the diverse nature and informal atmosphere of the successful Rotterdam fest -- as a place for link-minded film folk interested in serious cinema and where the word "exploitation" would never pass their lips. . . except after the obligatory late-night drinking sessions.
The CineMart is staged in the attractively named -- but strictly functional -- Jardin Room at the Rotterdam Hilton Hotel, itself the home to pretty much all-key Festival events. The deadline for project submissions was October 1 last year, and although 300 projects were submitted, the number of selections is kept down to a manageable figure -- only 41. Meetings are set up in advance for the five-day event with 600 industry professionals attending.
As with any festival or market, the buzz around certain projects builds during the few days of the event. It is a great compliment to the success of the CineMart that several films screening in the main sections of this year's Festival were being discussed at last year's CineMart.
As CineMart co-ordinator Ido Abram pointed out: "The 2000 Festival catalogue is itself proof that so many projects have benefited from the CineMart. Three films which now have their world premieres were touted in Rotterdam last year as works-in-progress, and another seven productions in the program have also been negotiated on the tables in the Hilton."
At last year's CineMart, for example, Chinese director Lou Ye was looking for additional funding for his film "Suzhou River." Berlin-based Philippe Bober of Essential Filmproduktion was able to show a 40-minute video work-in-progress of "Suzhou River" and managed to raise additional funding.
"I managed to sign my first two contracts (pre-sales for Japan and France) while being here," said Bober, "and the next one immediately on returning from Rotterdam." Through the CineMart inclusion some 30% of the film's $400,000 budget was raised, with 40% already in place through mainland China.
Last year, twelve of the works-in-progress being handled at CineMart left Rotterdam with the funding they were seeking. And with the increased amount of industry delegates attending each year, it bodes well for the future. However, the current intention of the CineMart organizers is to keep the number of projects at a similar level in order to provide each project with the space it requires.
Amongst the more recognizable projects looking for funding at CineMart 2000 include: Hal Hartley's "Monster," budgeted at $3 million, about a TV journalist who investigates a monster in Iceland and organizes the rescue of the bad-tempered creature along with the mysterious Dr Artaud; Nina Menkes' "Heatstroke," budgeted at $1 million and set in Los Angeles and Cairo about a film star's attempt to make contact with her sister, who is married to a diplomat (production partners include Gus Van Sant, Narween Otto, Andrea Sperling and Thomas Pidegain); Mark Rappaport's "The Secret Life of Practically Everybody," budgeted at $300,000 and described as an 'ugly sitcom' in which everybody is videotaping everyone else; and Simon Pummell's "Dogfight," budgeted at $1.7 million and adapted from William Gibson's story about a drifter who discovers a holographic game called Dogfight.
The main criteria for selection are the viability of the plans and the demonstrable talent of the filmmaking talent attached. Projects can be at any stage of production, but must be recent, and have not exhausted all other possible avenues of financing. The projects range from conventional linear stories to experimental forms, and from low-low budget to medium-budget projects.
Ido Abram added: "Films in development are still the core of the business of the CineMart, but we also want to encourage the attendants to make discoveries among the finished productions."