T he Kid with a Bike by the Dardenne brothers, We Have a Pope by Nanni Moretti and Melancholia by Lars von Trier are just a few of the many films produced with the assistance of Eurimages which received critical acclaim at international festivals last year. For nearly a quarter of a century, Eurimages – the Council of Europe fund for the co-production and distribution of European cinematographic works – has been supporting the European film industry by encouraging member states to cooperate in the production and distribution of films that promote European culture. In 2011, Georgia became the thirty-sixth Eurimages member state.
In March, Eurimages Executive Director Roberto Olla visited Tbilisi to discuss prospects for future European co-production projects with Georgia and international funding for Georgian films. As he told Tabula: “With the help of Eurimages, Georgian producers will be able to cooperate with their foreign colleagues and secure funding. In that case, this or that project will be shown in movie theatres of various countries, thus increasing chances for films to be screened at various festivals. In a small country like Georgia, film is mainly created for local consumption. Where foreign producers are involved, movies are taken to other countries in order to increase revenues. A film may again revolve around a very local topic or problem, but the production of it will be done in such a way as to be watched by international viewers.”
According to Olla, Georgia was accepted into Eurimages last year after Georgian National Film Center Director Tamara Tatishvili worked with him to resolve problems which had previously impeded membership. After reaching a solution mutually agreeable to the Georgian side and the thirty-five member states, Georgia became the newest Eurimages member.
Since joining Eurimages, Georgia has already been involved in two European co-productions: the soon-to-be-released Chaika [Seagull], which was partly shot in Georgia, and the planned film Epic with actors Ethan Hawke and Christopher Lambert signed on to play lead roles.
The main consideration for Eurimages funding is the quality of the screenplay, not the stature of the film’s stars or its director. Even such celebrated European filmmakers as Emir Kusturica, Lars von Trier and Kostas Gavras have failed to secure Eurimages funding at various times.
“The most important thing for securing funding is the screenplay,” Olla confirms. “Whether or not a project receives funding depends on the script, I would say, by nearly eighty percent. Creative value is important as well as originality. A script must be comprehensible and interesting for representatives of any country. We do not seek any particular plot and idea. What is important is a good, quality new film. Some call that an ‘art-house’ movie, others call it an ‘authored film,’ while for us it does not matter what it is called.”
Similarly, the genre of a film “does not matter at all” for purposes of securing Eurimages funding, Olla says. “A project may be a drama, thriller, comedy, full-length animated cartoon or documentary. The key thing is that a script and the filmmaker’s vision are interesting and original. We will not finance a ‘standard’ thriller or comedy which cannot be distinguished from tens of similar films released every year.”
Olla explains that an application for Eurimages financing can be submitted by a film director who already has at least two producers signed on to the project: “As a rule, Eurimages is the last party engaging in financing and covers the last ten-to-fifteen percent of costs, which normally is the most difficult portion of the funding to secure. Often, producers have to cut costs of production. A screenwriter has to readjust a script or a scene has to be shot at a much lesser cost which often adversely affects the quality of the movie. There are also other financiers who offer terrible terms to film directors. It is at that very moment that Eurimages gets involved and assists filmmakers in producing the highest quality project.”
Eurimages is indeed regarded as a quality guarantor in Europe – as proved by the long list of acclaimed films it has helped to finance over the years. With the help of the Georgian National Film Center, Georgian film directors are now finally being given an opportunity to benefit as well from cooperation with Eurimages.
This article first appeared in Tabula Georgian Issue # 94, published 2 April 2012.