Zagreb's PROFilm Days audiovisual industry symposium: highlights

"We must focus on film restoration and preserving our film heritage!"

By Priyanca Rajput 5 Oct 2023

Zagreb's PROFilm Days audiovisual industry symposium: highlights
Canary Black panel discussion with deputy mayor and producer. Cr: Film Zagreb

The 5th edition of the audiovisual industry symposium 'PROFilm Days' which took place at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Croatia, saw numerous domestic and international experts share their experiences, and discuss the challenges they face.

This year's 5th edition of the PROFilm Days symposium explored various current topics through panels and presentations by experts from the AV industry.

The event spotlighted domestic producers Igor Nola and Nebojša Taraba, who brought major film projects to Croatia such as Ipcress File, Hotel Portofino, Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, and many others. Nola was responsible for the filming of the film Canary Black, starring Kate Beckinsale in the lead role, which was shot in Zagreb for over 60 days in late 2022/early 2023.

During a panel titled 'Canary Black: What Does Such a Large Project Mean for the City of Zagreb,' he provided the following data: 'During the filming of action scenes, 175 security personnel ensured the streets' safety daily; 402 film professionals worked on the film, including 320 Croatians, of which 14 interns; 1,180 extras; 14 Croatian actors and actresses (4th role Romina Tonković); 592 thousand euros were spent on all hotel accommodations; the total Croatian budget share was an impressive 13.884m euros.' Nebojša Taraba, the producer of the third season of the series 'Hotel Portofino,' also shared fascinating numbers: '15 million euros stayed in Croatia from the filming of three seasons of Hotel Portofino, with over 27,000 overnight stays; 95% of the film crew were Croatian film workers, including interns in all sectors!'

The series Hotel Portofino is broadcast in more than 70 countries, and the third season, as well as the film Canary Black, are expecting their worldwide distribution in 2024. 

"Over the past five years, we have hosted numerous film professionals, including Oscar and Emmy winners, but what's most important to us is that we have discussed our industry as an industry, a cultural branch that not only has artistic value but also generates income and promotes our country and culture in a fantastic way worldwide. It is also crucial to emphasise that international productions, training new interns, learning from other film professionals around the world, helps national projects as well, which are increasing year by year," said Mia Pećina Drašković, head of the Zagreb Film Office.

Luka Korlaet, deputy mayor of Zagreb, emphasised that the city supports the audiovisual sector in all aspects and fully understands the significance of films and series for cities. He pledged to continue providing the necessary support to both Croatian and international productions in Zagreb. He also stressed the importance of infrastructure and the need for a film studio, indicating that the city is already working on possible funding models and locations. 'The filming of Canary Black in Zagreb was quite challenging, especially in coordinating schedules with all the departments, road closures, and night shoots. But now that the first test has passed, it will undoubtedly be much easier for us for future productions.' Mr. Korlaet stated.

Christopher P. Marcich, director of Croatian Audiovisual Center, reminded everyone of the results achieved in the 15 years, including over 1,100 co-financed films of all genres and lengths, and over 200 Croatian films screened in cinemas. He emphasised that with increased funding from the Ministry of Culture and Media and other legal obligations, better conditions for national production and the entire sector will be made possible.

The 'Big 70!' panel, which brought together Zagreb Film, Pula Film Festival and the Academy of Dramatic Arts, all connected by this truly impressive 70th anniversary, shared a unanimous notion: "we must focus on film restoration and preserving our film heritage!"

The panel titled '12 Transformations for Stories and the Future,' organised by CED- MEDIA Office Croatia, featured two experienced film professionals: producer Helena Granqvist (Sweden) and screenwriter Valeria Richter (Denmark). They have gained significant experience in the international film and TV industry, covering a wide range of production and writing for feature and documentary films, TV series, as well as financing and organising labs for innovative development, production, and script consultation, creating new training concepts for young talents and experienced filmmakers.

Three representatives of the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI): John Rakich from Canada, who is also the LMGI president, Benjamin Hendriks from the Netherlands, and EJ Richards from the United Kingdom visited Croatia from one end to the other in seven days. They emphasised that Croatia has many undiscovered locations that have not yet appeared on screen, which location managers always seek.

Every year, the Croatian Film Workers Society selects a feature film to represent Croatia in the Oscar competition in the Best International Feature Film category. This year, the film 'Traces,' the feature debut of director Dubravka Turić and producer Ankica Jurić Tilić, was chosen. Director/scriptwriter/editor Dubravka Turić and Tajana Stanković, responsible for the excellent art design in the film, talked about the journey from the script to Croatia's Oscar candidate. Boško Picula, the panel's moderator, shared predictions from Variety magazine, which placed Traces 26th out of a total of 90 nominated titles.

At the end of the symposium, national and regional distributors, including Igor Stankovic, director of MCF Megacom (Serbia), Boštjan Virc, producer (Slovenia), Slobodan Čiča, regional distribution director for Universal International, Ivor Šiber, producer and distributor (Croatia), and Danijela Fabric Fabijanac, president of the Cinema Network Croatia, discussed the differences in the viewership of Serbian, Slovenian and Croatian films in theatres.

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