Locarno Festival: Top prizes for Hubert Bals Fund films and symposium about films from developing countries

September 2003 -

Two films to which the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) has contributed won first and second prize at the 56th Locarno Film Festival. The Golden Leopard went to the Pakistani film Khamosh Pani (Silent Water). The makers of Gori Vatra (Fuse) from Bosnia-Herzegovina won the Silver Leopard.

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Still from 'Kamosh Pani'

The HBF is part of the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR) and supports films from independent filmmakers in southern and developing countries. Earlier this year the Turkish film Uzak won the prize for best actor as well as the Large Jury prize at the Cannes film festival. Osama from Afghanistan, also supported by the HBF, received a special Golden Camera award.

During the festival in Locarno a symposium was held about financing films from developing countries. There is less money in the market for these types of films. Gerwin Tamsma, programmer of the Rotterdam International Film Festival and member of the HBF committee, attended the symposium. According to him German, Spanish and French commercial television companies are investing less money in special projects these days. So the money must be sought elsewhere.

There are a few other institutions like the HBF in Europe. Switzerland has the MonteCinemaVerita Foundation, Sweden has the Göteburg Film Festival Film Fund and France has the Sud Cinéma fund. These funds only finance part of a film. For example, the HBF generally provides money for the development stage and the post production phase. ‘But’, says Tamsma, ‘a great deal of money is also required for the middle stage, the production.’ Sometimes the funds collaborate on a production. They all four contributed to the prize winner Khamosh Pani. ‘But even then the funds are not sufficient to cover the entire project, which is why we discussed how it would be possible to involve distributors and sales agents financially in productions that are supported by the funds at an earlier stage’, explained Tamsma.

The 60th Venice film festival, which is being held from 27 August through 7 September, selected three films supported by the HBF: Abjad from Iran, Last Life in the Universe from Thailand and Ana y los otros from Argentina.