The Baltic Pitching Forum aims to increase the visibility of Baltic filmmakers amongst their European colleagues. The pitch successfully selected to go to Clermont-Ferrand was Edina Csüllögi´s film ‘The Butterfly-Man’, a project from Estonia. Based on a short-story by Estonian author Mehis Heinsaar, the film promises to be a fantastic yet poignant tale of a man who explodes into butterflies every time he feels extreme emotion. The panelists and observers were impressed by its elements of magical realism and the passionate and humorous pitch from Csüllögi and her producer Kristo Jürmann.

Edina Csüllög, the director of The Butterfly Man said: “I think each story has an own soul and energy. Each story has to be born and I believe that ‘The Butterfly Man’ wants to be born and we (meaning us and the story itself) had a great chance in the Baltic Pitch Forum to have a kickstart and be sure that this story has to be done. We got loads of good advice on how to make the story right and how to avoid it going wrong. I felt really good in the forum as I felt that each of the tutors, participants and panellists were listening to what you were saying and they were really helping. They were enthusiastic and very professional. I am proud and thankful to everybody who helped us and my special thanks go to Urmas Reisberg – the scriptwriter – and Mehis Heinsaar the writer of the original great short story on which the film is based.”          

Shorts from the Baltic countries – consisting of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have had a burgeoning reputation over the past few years. While historically Baltic films have always been popular – such as animation from Estonia or the work of experimental filmmakers such as Jonas Mekas from Lithuania – there has been a new generation of emerging films and filmmakers slowly making their mark on the scene with increasing visibility for students from the likes of the Baltic Film and Media School and independent filmmakers beginning to make an impact on the festival circuit.

Between 11th and 12th October 2013, the Baltic Pitching Forum will provide a focus for some of the projects and talented filmmakers currently coming out of the region. The forum will be a special industry event which will help short film projects from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia gain international recognition in the European market place while also promoting the region and its filmmakers.

Organised by the Lithuanian Short Film Agency “Lithuanian Shorts” in association with the Riga International Short Film Festival 2ANNAS in Latvia and the Student and Short Film Festival Sleepwalkers in Estonia, the Baltic Pitching Forum will also aim to set up a place for short film makers situated in the Baltic countries to present their new projects whilst sharing common issues and knowledge, exchanging experiences and good practices, developing artistic ideas and making new contacts. The event will also encourage them to attract active European producers, TV commissioners, film fund representatives, VoD and festival programmers and distributors.

“Before the Baltic Pitching Forum there were no specific events or platforms for the presentation of Baltic Short Films or filmmakers’ ideas,” explains Rimantė Daugėlaitė, the head of Vilnius Film Shorts that will be hosting the event. “It’s essential to create a space for filmmakers and industry professionals so that they can distribute, collaborate, produce and, hopefully, invest.

The forum will consist of one-day pitching training and one-day pitching sessions of selected projects alongside one-to-one meetings with film professionals from all over Europe. The first day of the Forum will be dedicated to training regarding successful pitching and how to prepare for it. The second day of the Forum will be taken up with the presentation of the selected projects in front of an international panel consisting of 7 members.  After the presentation, one-on-one meetings between invited film professionals and participants will take place.

It will be open to Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian based film directors and/or producers who have finished at least one short film project and are now developing a new project which is a fiction short film no longer than 30 min. and which will be targeted at an international audience. 9 short film projects will be selected by the selection committee – 3 projects per country –  and up to 2 representatives of each selected project (producer or/and director) will be invited to take part in the training and pitching sessions held in Vilnius. Entrants who were not so successful this time round can still attend the sessions as observers.

The Best Short Film Project will get the opportunity to travel to the European Short Film Co-production Forum Euro Connection, which will be part of the 39th Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and held between 5th and 6th February 2014.

“One of the goals of the Forum is to facilitate interaction, cooperation and co-production between short film makers from the Baltics and the rest of Europe,” says Daugėlaitė. “There’s plenty of talent in the region and it will be the job of the Forum to ensure that it gets the recognition that it deserves. I’m looking forward to seeing the submitted projects over the coming months and getting the opportunity to help show what those filmmakers in the Baltic region really can do.”

The Baltic Pitching Forum, supported by the Nordic Culture Point, was held on 11-12th October, 2013 during the 8th International Short Film Festival “Vilnius Film Shorts” in Vilnius, Lithuania.

written by Laurence Boyce