Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ Returns with Six First-Time Feature Projects by Promising World Filmmakers

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After more than a two-year break since its last edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cannes Film Market’s Focus CoPro’ returned on Tuesday at the Palais des Festivals in a lively pitch and networking session between industry professionals and first-time feature-film directors.

The event, launched in 2018, is hosted by Cannes’ Short Film Corner in collaboration with the Cannes Film Market, Pop Up Film Residency and La Incubadora, It aims to highlight the nascent projects of filmmakers in various Cannes selections and participating in the Short Film Corner as they take the path toward making their first feature films.

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The early projects are presented by the producer and/or director in the form of a short pitch to the audience of professionals, and the session was followed by one-to-one meetings between the project holders and the decision-makers (producers, sales agents, film funds, institutions, etc.)

Focus CoPro’ is, according to Short Film Corner head Camille Hébert-Bénazet, an “opportunity to discover renowned short film talents, who have already made an impact on today’s cinema and who will confirm their artistic vision with their first feature.”

“This program highlights filmmakers whose past short films we deeply appreciate, and guides them in presenting their projects to key professionals from the Film Market,” Hébert-Bénazet told Variety.

To adapt to the exceptional circumstances of this year’s Cannes, Focus CoPro’ was hybrid this year thanks to the support of Jérôme Paillard, the Cannes Film Market executive director, who included the event in the online section of the Film Market – meaning that industry professionals around the world could connect to the session to listen to the pitches, without having to be in the Palais.

Hébert-Bénazet said that around 50 projects were submitted for consideration, significantly down from around 90 in 2019. Six projects were selected as the most promising proposals.

The following projects were selected for this year’s Focus CoPro’:

“Still Life with Ghosts” by Spanish director Enrique Buleo, a story on the afterlife, identity, sexuality and loneliness merging magical realism and fantasy influences, which was presented in collaboration with La Incubadora 2021, from La Escuela de Cinematografía y del Audiovisual de la Comunidad de Madrid (ECAM). The project is looking for distributors, funding, world sales and co-producers.

“Los Quinquis” is another Spanish film at this year’s Focus CoPro’ that was supported by La Incubadora. The project was pitched by its charismatic director, Yayo Herrero, a young rock-and-roll director whose life and work has been shaped by his relationship with his identical twin brother. The film delves into this personal rapport with a story on two young delinquent twins in the suburbs of Madrid trying to survive on the streets – all filmed on 16mm to give the story a vintage look. The film is still looking for further funding, world sales and co-producers.

Another Hispanic film is “Mi Bestia,” a Colombia-French co-production directed by Camila Beltran, with a story based in Bogota in the 1990s where a young girl’s fate intersects with the devil in a coming-of-age tale full of Colombian music. Beltran’s previous short “Pacificio Oscuro” premiered in Locarno in 2020. Her new project is looking for distributors, funding, world sales and co-producers.

Also touching on themes of the afterlife is “Spring Cleaning,” a project from North Macedonia by Marija Apcevska, selected in Cannes’ Short Film Competition this year. Reflecting on the difficult relationship with her home country, the film will tell the story of a young woman who goes back home from abroad after her mother commits suicide. The film is looking for co-writers and co-producers.

“Deepfake” by French director Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis was one of the most ambitious and multidisciplinary projects to be pitched. The film is about a performance artist on YouTube who discovers that a clone has taken over her account. The film aims to mix animation, documentary and experimental techniques. The director was selected in Critics’ Week last year with his short “Maalbek.” His new project is looking for funding and world sales.

Lastly, a project from Israel called “Island” concluded Cannes’ Focus CoPro’ pitch sessions. The film is directed by Elinor Nechemya, selected in Critics’ Week Shorts this year, and tells the story of a bourgeois couple playing sex games with other tenants in their apartment block to break their sense of boredom. The film is looking for funding and world sales.

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