"Slovenian film producers are a versatile, determined bunch"
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Andraž Jerič • Producer, Temporama
The Slovenian Producer on the Move is motivated despite frustrating circumstances
Slovenian producer Andraž Jerič's first feature, Consequences [+see also:
interview: Darko Štante
film profile] by Darko Štante, had its world premiere at Toronto in 2018 and went on to win five top national awards at the Festival of Slovenian Films. He is now working on five new projects with his company Temporama. Jerič was selected to participate in the EFP’s Producers on the Move for 2021.
Cineuropa: What drives you to make films, and how do you pick your projects?
Andraž Jerič: When we set out to establish Temporama around eight years ago, it was with the intention to work with the younger, up-and-coming generation of Slovenian filmmakers. I think we've been quite successful in that regard, with our focus centred mostly on feature debuts and shorts by directors straight out of film school. I tend to be interested in projects by authors who have something to say, who bring their new, unique voices to the screen, hopefully even trying to be non-conformist in a way, which can be quite a challenge in this very hegemonic, almost industrialised ecosystem of making films nowadays. I think the scene in Slovenia is still quite healthy regarding new talent, with a high output of film academy graduates (and other, self-taught film-makers as well) who are very eager to work and be seen but are, of course, faced with a limited number of opportunities to take their shot.
You have no less than five projects on your slate at the moment. Can you break them down for us?
Two of the three features we're currently developing are debuts: Neither Voice by Ester Ivakič is based on an eponymous collection of short stories by Slovenian author Suzana Tratnik. It is about a 10-year-old girl who's growing up in 1970s Slovenia, then still part of Yugoslavia, and is faced with problems including an ailing grandma, a rift in her parents' marriage, and a looming prepubescence. As the golden years of Yugoslavia are slowly coming to an end, so is her childhood. The development of the project has already been supported by the Slovenian Film Centre and Creative Europe – MEDIA which allows us to currently work on it almost full-time.
This is a Robbery! is another debut, by Gregor Andolšek, a dark comedy about an injured magician who is trying to shake down an insurance company that's refusing to pay out his benefits.
Another dark comedy, Girl of the Night, is the sophomore feature by Luka Marčetić who's known here as the director of At Hostar [+see also:
film profile], the most popular Slovenian film ever, so we're eager to follow that up with his new project.
Alongside these features, we're currently also in pre-production on One Minute to Recess, a teen comedy miniseries by Tosja Flaker Berce which we plan to shoot over the summer, and we're also developing the more serious sports drama Offside about the criminal backgrounds of the world of football and match-fixing. Offside is written by Juš Premrov and Nejc Pohar and is being developed through the MIDPOINT TV Launch workshop. It will be ready to pitch at Tallinn Black Nights this November.
How do you see the current state of the Slovenian film industry?
Cinema in Slovenia has been severely affected by the COVID pandemic, but not as much by the virus itself than by the strange political apathy, even malevolence directed towards our sector as soon as the pandemic started. Last year, this mostly manifested as a financial blockade of the Slovenian Film Centre wherein the Ministry of Culture was unable to provide funds for over 30 projects from March until December. This means there were virtually no productions being shot in this period, while most other European countries not only continued producing films but also increased their emergency response for the audiovisual sector.
The situation this year is not much better, with a number of productions still waiting to receive funds and even producers going into debt to secure their co-production deals. For example, Rok Biček – who was the Slovenian Producer on the Move in 2019 – just finished shooting his latest film, Moja Vesna by Sara Kern (read the news), the first ever Australian-Slovenian co-production, for which he hasn't yet received a single euro. All of us are currently anxiously waiting for the situation to be resolved as soon as possible.
What do you expect from Producers on the Move?
In contrast to my previous answer, I hope that my inclusion in this year's Producers on the Move will be an opportunity to demonstrate that Slovenian film producers are a versatile bunch who are determined to push on in the face of many adversities. I believe we are competent international partners who can bring a lot to the table as long as we're allowed and encouraged to do so. In that sense, I'm looking forward to broadening my international scope and establishing new connections and relationships. I strongly believe that international co-production is an absolute necessity in such a fast-changing market where smaller national cinemas like Slovenia are especially at risk from the actions of large international players entering the European markets. Of course, I'm also hoping to highlight my projects which could be of interest to international partners and, above all, being selected as a Producer on the Move is an honour that helps me get a feeling that my producing efforts so far have been squarely on the right path.
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