A stellar 2019 for First Cut Lab

Dec 30, 2019

The First Cut Lab team has spent the holidays dusting off its shoes, it’s been a very busy and eventful year! Besides the now old faithfuls of Trieste and Poland, no less than 7 new locations were added to the First Cut Lab slate, both in and outside of Europe. A whopping total of 25 films took part in 9 different workshops this past year! And besides a significant enlargement of the core team, we were also supported by MEDIA for a program extension focussing on promotion and marketability: First Cut+. Champagne!


Six premieres, seven new collaborations

Six films that previously participated in First Cut Lab have premiered in 2019 in what could be called a big winning streak. From previous years, Slovenian Stories from the Chestnut Woods by Gregor Božič won 11 awards at the Festival of Slovenian Film, after its World Premiere in Toronto IFF. Polish Taste of Pho by Mariko Bobrik premiered in San Sebastian IFF in the Culinary Zinema section. And Estonia’s Scandinavian Silence by Martti Helde premiered in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West Competition, where it won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European film.

One of the films workshopped last January during the first lab of the year in WEMW, Georgia’s Inhale-Exhale by Dito Tsintsadze, premiered in Shanghai IFF where it won 2 awards in the main competition: The Grand Jury Prize and the Best Actress Award for Salome Demuria by a jury headed by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

From Trieste onwards, each season saw new First Cut Lab collaborations. In early spring we arrived in Kyiv for a workshop in partnership with the Ukraine State Film Agency, working on 3 films from Ukraine of which My Thoughts Are Silent by Antonio Lukich premiered in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West Competition in July. And won the special jury prize!

Also in spring, part of the team travelled to Manila for the first lab outside of Europe, in collaboration with the Film Development Council of the Philippines. From this crop, first feature John Denver Trending by Arden Rod Condez won multiple awards at Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and had its world premiere at the prestigious Busan IFF.

In summer, we moved to Karlovy Vary to work on 3 films in the context of the Eastern Promises Industry Days with a great group of advisers passing through our workshop venue aptly named ‘Freud room’. This was swiftly followed by the first lab in Kosovo 2 weeks after, supported by the Kosovo Cinematography Center. From this workshop, first feature Andromeda Galaxy by More Raça won the Glocal in Pogress prize in San Sebastian IFF.

Early fall we were welcomed in Finland for a lab hosted by the Finnish Film Foundation and in Poland again by the Polish Film Institute, followed in October by the first workshop in Turkey, hosted by the Boğaziçi Film Festival, where we worked on 3 Turkish features together with editor consultant Jacques Comets.

Lastly, in the beginning of winter we fought the drizzle in Ljubljana in partnership with RE-ACT, with films from partners Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where we worked with 2 teams in parallel for the first time.

41 Advisers

No less than 41 industry advisers from 23 countries graced us with their insights this year and feedbacked the different works from different industries. And not only from Europe! We were delighted to welcome Meng Xie, producer and sales agent at Rediance Films in China, John Nein, Sundance IFF programmer from the USA, Myriam Sassine, producer at Abbout Productions from Lebanon, Kriz Anthony Gazmen creative director at Black Sheep in the Philippines, Naomi Levari (Israel/Germany) producer from Black Sheep Film Productions and Mmabatho Kau, producer at Raindrop Media from South Africa.

New Staff members

It’s probably clear by now that it would have been impossible to manage all these workshops without the help of our new team members. We were delighted to welcome both Wim Vanacker as editorial consultant and llaria Gomarasca as Head of First Cut+ to the team. Wim was project manager of NISI MASA’s European Short Pitch for many years and he’s a member of the Selection Committee for the Official Short Film Competition of the Cannes Film Festival. Ilaria worked for over ten years as Festivals and Markets Manager for Paris-based Pyramide International, garnering extensive experience in the international sales’ field.

First Cut+

In less than 3 weeks we will kick off the very first edition of the new MEDIA supported program First Cut+ during WEMW in Trieste. 8 projects will take part in this program focussed on promotion and marketing, with a public Work in Progress presentation to take place on January 19 from 18:00 at Cinema Miela. The First Cut Lab alumni that are part of the portfolio are: And They May Still Be Alive Today by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu (Romania), Chrysanthemum Day by Simon Mozgovyi (Ukraine), Listen by Ana Rocha de Sousa (Portugal/UK), The Getaway King by Mateusz Rakowicz (Poland) Nimby by Teemu Nikki (Finland); Simple Things by Grzegorz Zariczny (Poland), The Staffroom by Sonja Tarokić (Croatia) and 24 Hours of Sunshine by Juris Poškus (Latvia). 

Steaming ahead in 2020!

From the 25 films that went through the lab this year, 20 will premiere in 2020 for which we are very excited to finally see them on the big screen! The beginning of new year will be heralded with the 6th edition of First Cut Lab in Trieste, workshopping 4 films from Romania, Hungary, Germany and Slovenia. We can’t wait to discover all the new works in the year to come and the new collaborations it will undoubtedly bring. Many many thanks to everyone for their invaluable contributions to the lab last year, on to the next!



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