– This month, the co-production market marks a quarter of a century spent bridging the East and West of Europe, and bringing to light some of the most significant films

connecting cottbus celebrates its 25th anniversary

Some previous editions of coco (© connecting cottbus)

With the inspiring slogan “Stay Curious!” as its guiding light, the East-West co-production market connecting cottbus (coco) is commemorating a significant milestone this year – 25 years of effectively forging partnerships and contributing to the world of filmmaking. It thus marks a quarter of a century of nurturing a vibrant cross-cultural dialogue among nations and neighbouring communities. Running from 8-10 November, the market has already announced the projects taking part this year (see the news).

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Since its inception in 1999 and coco’s first few years, its activities have been characterised by a heartfelt aspiration to bridge the gaps between individuals who have endured profound separation wounds. This initiative was rooted in a strong desire to foster mutual learning, to promote inclusivity and to engage in collaborative artistic endeavours. Simultaneously, connecting cottbus swiftly evolved into a nurturing environment where emerging filmmakers could lay the foundation for their careers.

Marjorie Bendeck, the director of connecting cottbus, underlines in her welcome note: “Today, the distribution landscape for cinema from Eastern Europe and beyond is starkly impacted, festivals are reducing slots, TV and streamers are flooded [with content], many directors venture into series to secure an income, and not everyone’s lucky enough to live off indie filmmaking. The desire to make films has not decreased – but has our interest in wanting to watch these stories remained? At coco, we strongly believe so and continue to support those who enrich our minds and hearts with their films.”

In terms of coco’s success, it’s noteworthy that 56% of the projects presented at previous editions have successfully transitioned into feature films. A few significant examples include important titles of the past decades – among them are films such as The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner [+see also:
trailer
film profile
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by Stephan Komandarev (Bulgaria/Germany/Hungary/Slovenia), The Trap [+see also:
trailer
film profile
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by Srdan Golubovic (Serbia/Germany/Hungary), Something Like Happiness [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Bohdan Slama
interview: Pavel Strnad
film profile
]
by Bohdan Sláma (Czech Republic/Germany) and Tangerines [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
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by Zaza Urushadze (Estonia/Georgia), which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Furthermore, a handful of projects from connecting cottbus have premiered in different sections of the Cannes Film Festival. Some of said titles include The High Sun [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Dalibor Matanic
interview: Tihana Lazovic
film profile
]
by Dalibor Matanić (Croatia/Slovenia/Serbia) and One Floor Below [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Radu Muntean
film profile
]
by Radu Muntean (France/Romania/Germany/Sweden), with both having competed in Un Certain Regard in 2015. Meanwhile, The Load [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ognjen Glavonić
film profile
]
by Ognjen Glavonić (Serbia/France/Croatia/Iran/Qatar) premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight in 2018. As for the Berlinale, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ada Condeescu
film profile
]
by Florin Şerban (Romania/Sweden/Germany) was in competition in 2010, The Happiest Girl in the World [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
by Radu Jude (Romania/Netherlands) premiered in the Forum in 2009, and Stop-Zemlia [+see also:
film review
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interview: Kateryna Gornostai
film profile
]
by Kateryna Gornostai (Ukraine) was the winner of Generation’s Crystal Bear in 2021.

Other, more recent festival highlights include Brighton 4th [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Levan Koguashvili
film profile
]
by Levan Koguashvili (Georgia/Russia/Bulgaria/Monaco/USA), which premiered at Tribeca in 2021; Sisterhood [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Dina Duma, Antonia Belazelk…
film profile
]
by Dina Duma (North Macedonia/Kosovo/Montenegro), which was in the East of the West competition at Karlovy Vary in 2021; Woman on the Roof [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Anna Jadowska (Poland/Sweden/France), which premiered at Tribeca last year; and Victim [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Michal Blaško
film profile
]
by Michal Blaško (Slovakia/Czech Republic/Germany), which competed in Venice’s Orizzonti.

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