‘Birth Right,’ ‘Dengue,’ ‘Glory B,’ ‘Weightless’ Win TorinoFilmLab Awards

TFL Meeting, a TorinoFilmLab-organized initiative, has awarded 18 cash prizes, worth a total of €315,000 ($330,000), to support the development and production of feature-length projects.

Of the 30 projects presented during the program’s 15th edition, 20 were part of the ScriptLab program, and 10 were showcased in the FeatureLab program. The participants presented them to an audience of 260 professionals, attending over 600 meetings with potential partners and co-producers.

This year’s FeatureLab jury, which included Florence Almozini, Dyveke Bjørkly Graver, Philippe Bober and Donsaron Kovitvanitcha, awarded four debut projects with a grant of €40,000 each ($38,000).

The first is Inbar Horesh’s “Birth Right.” Staged by Alona Refua, of Tel Aviv-based Green Productions, the picture aims to capture “the point of view of young tourists experiencing Israel for the first time.” The plot centers on Nieszka who, after mourning her father’s death, joins a tour to Israel that turns out to be a sex-filled Zionist propaganda trip.

The second project, Prantik Basu’s “Dengue,” is produced by Tanaji Dasgupta for India’s Riverine Films and co-produced by Dutch studio The Film Kitchen. Inspired by the director’s own experience of growing up gay in Calcutta and set in the late 1990s, “Dengue” zooms in on Sunil, a 35-year-old civil engineer who, during a heavy down-pour, shares his umbrella with 21-year-old Akash, a charming phlebotomist at a local pharmacy.

The third winner is Konstantinos Antonopoulos’ “Glory B,” set in 703 AD and described by the creative team as “an independent film with cross-over potential thanks to the combination of the survival adventure and buddy movie genres.” Produced by Greece’s Either/Or Productions in co-production with Germany’s NiKo Film, it follows a dethroned emperor and a humble beekeeper trying to escape the desert island they have been shipwrecked on.

The fourth project, “Weightless” by Sara Fgaier, is produced by Marco Alessi for Italy’s Dugong Films, in co-production with Pietro Marcello’s L’Avventurosa and Ring Film. In it, Gian, a 65-year-old ethno-musicology professor, fights the darkness caused by the sudden onset of amnesia. Co-written by Sabrina Cusano and Maurizio Buquicchio, the picture takes the subject of amnesia as “a starting point” to investigate “the relationship between memory and love and between who we are and who we once were.”

Meanwhile, the ScriptLab jury, which included Maialen Beloki, Els Hendrix and Erik Hemmendorff, handed two Eurimages Co-production Development Awards (worth €20,000 each, circa $21,000). The winning projects were also two debut features, namely Irene Moray’s “Sealskin” and Masha Kondakova’s “Warrior.”

“Sealskin” is being produced by Marta Cruañas Compés for Spain’s Vilaüt Films and tells the story of the unexpected friendship between 25-year-old janitor Flora and 30-year-old bright teaching candidate Helga, a bond which goes beyond their socio-economic status and personal differences.

“Warrior” revolves around a female sniper, Sasha, who returns from the frontline to her home, but has to fight a different battle. She is excited to see her father, an eco-activist living in the West of Ukraine, but she finds out he has sold the house and disappeared. Feeling betrayed, Sasha investigates his disappearance which leads her to a group of loggers that are getting rich by illegally exporting lumber to Europe. Produced by Valeria Sochyvets for Kyiv-based Contemporary Ukrainian Cinema, the creative team described it as “a thriller with elements of action.”

Finally, some extra grants were bestowed on Andrey Volkashin’s “The Sweet Bitterness of Ripe Pomegranates,” Kerstin Neuwirth’s “Abitanti,” Flurin Giger’s “A Year Without Summer,” Doruntina Basha’s “Bleach,” M.G. Evangelista’s “Burning Well,” Marta Hernaiz Pidal’s “Al Fondo A la Derecha,” Jarell Serencio’s “The Boy and the Fight of Spiders,” and Minh Quý Trương ’s “Viet and Nam.”

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