IRON CURTAIN RISING
In time for Discop (June 22-24 in Budapest), a sampling of Eastern European projects. Despite the crisis in the Balkans, over 400 participants are expected to attend the event, which will feature a special screening pavilion for Central and Eastern European producers and distributors.
Serious monkey business
From their base in Poznan, Poland, Atol Media is hard at work on a 3 x 60-minute series about the natural history of Vietnam. Save for the Future: Wildlife in Vietnam is actually a series within a series – the whole project being a ten-part look at international conservation efforts. Plans include a look at Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, to name only a few.
The first push concentrates on Vietnam, and their efforts to keep indigenous animals from extinction. One of the areas featured will be the CucPhong National Park, where they are fighting to keep the langur monkey alive. Over the three hours, the producers will look at several national parks, with the expert help of author and zoologist Dr. Radoslaw Ratajszczak. Filming begins this month, with completion scheduled for September. The producers are still on the hunt for partners to help them with the US$120,000 an episode project.
Perpetual motion has been a dream of scientists and inventors since we first put down our clubs and began contemplating quantum physics. Studio U-7TV, a production company in Ekaterinburg, Russia, is working on a series of 22 three-minute projects exploring our dreams of everlasting energy. Called Perpetuum Mobile, the series will begin with the first drawings of a perpetual engine made by Willand de Honnecourt in the thirteenth century. The series then progresses chronologically, highlighting the personalities and successive attempts of those who tried to tackle this riddle.
With the pilot ready for July, and the remainder of the productions on track for the spring of 2000, the series will rely heavily on computer graphics and 3-D animation to tell the tale. The series will have original music and a separated m&e track with an English script. The budget stands at about US$200,000 for the entire series. Check out the website at www.u7tv.e-burg.ru.
A festival divided
‘There’s a place where Latvia’s, Belarus’ and Russia’s borders meet. In war time, all the partisans from the erstwhile republics fought together against the Germans, and after the war joined forces and with their own hands built a small `Friendship tumulus’ as a commemorative mark. Every year on the first Sunday in July, festivities take place at the tumulus – old comrades meet (even though now only a few remain), concerts take place, sausages are fried, people come in droves….’ – from the Locomotive Productions website.
In 1991, the crumbling of the Soviet Bloc brought division and border guards to the Republics, and disrupted the yearly festival. The tumulus is now in Latvia, the concert platform in Belarus, and the sausage vendors in Russia. A river separates the three and guards prevent crossing. The festival continues regardless, with people coming to the place where they used to meet, if only to shout and wave to friends across the border.
Produced by Locomotive Productions in Riga, Latvia, Borderland is what Locomotive’s Carl Biorsmark refers to as a `total concept,’ examining both the festival and the divided region in which it takes place. It consists of several parts: a 90-minute documentary film which will begin shooting now for release in the fall of 2000 (shot on digital video and 35mm, at a budget of approximately US$175,000); a growing photo exhibit; a book; compact disks (three have already been published); and an extensive website (www.borderland.org). The non-broadcast components of Borderland have a budget between $100,000 and $150,000, mostly underwritten by international institutions.
Locomotive will be distributing the film themselves, and have already generated interest from international broadcasters and art museums, although nothing had been put in writing as of press time.