Top UK production outfit Film and Music Entertainment commit to Polish Cinema with long term plans to produce more films in the region

// 18th of September, 2013

UK sales outfit Stealth Media join Belgrade’s Delirium and London’s Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) to Handle International sales on The Porcupine by Booker Prize Winning Author Julian Barnes. In addition the Polish Film Institute (PISF) confirms Production Finance.  

Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) CEO and producer Mike Downey re-affirmed at the 38th Gdynia Film festival his company’s ongoing commitment to making films in Poland and, working with Polish talent, as well as bringing international projects to shoot and post in Poland.

F&ME, which is just coming to the end of post production on EPIC an international co-production written by Polish writer and winner of the top prize in Gdynia this year for Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski and directed by British helmer Ben Hopkins.  The film, which shot in Georgia early this year will complete post production in the next weeks in Georgia after cutting in Berlin.

In addition to this, the Polish Film Institute has confirmed production finance on another international co-production, this time The Porcupine by Booker Prize Winning Author Julian Barnes.

Downey was the UK co-producer on Andrzej Jakimowski’s Toronto success IMAGINE, which picked up the Best Sound prize in Gdynia and is the Polish member’s popular choice for the European Film Academy’s European Film Awards.  The other candidate, In the Name of  having been included as a decision of the board.

"We are also in active discussions with a number of Polish film makers," said Downey in Gdynia, " to come on board as partners.  We will definitely support Andrzej Jakimowski’s next project after the excellent success of Imagine, and we also have a long-gestating project with Urszula Antoniak for an English language movie."

In another move Stealth Media World Sales has boarded F&ME and Delerium’s adaptation of Julian Barnes’ 1992 novel The Porcupine, directed by Berlinale Audience Award winning film maker   Srdjan Dragojevic. The films will shoot in the Ukraine, Bulgaria and Macedonia in February 2014, with post production and music composition taking place in Poland.

In addition to Stealth joining the production, additional finance has been confirmed by the Polish Film Institute (PISF) in their latest round of funding decisions via Andrzej Jakimowski’s ZaiR company; and from the Ukranian State Film Agency via Olga Zhurzhenko’s Ukr kino

Set in a post-communist fictional country, The Porcupine takes as its theme the trial of Stoyo Petkanov, a character judged to be a thinly disguised Todor Zhivkov, the former communist leader of Bulgaria. As the newly appointed Prosecutor General attempts to ensnare the former dictator with his own totalitarian laws, Petkanov springs a few unwelcome surprises on the court by conducting a formidable defense. The Times described the book as 'Superbly humane in its moral concerns - an excellent novel'.

"With the support of the Polish Film Institute (PISF) and Ukrainian fund, we are now in a position to green-light the film," says F&ME producer Mike Downey, "We do have a couple of applications outstanding but, we have take the decision to proceed into an early prep, with full prep getting underway in late November 2013.  We have had an extraordinary amount of support from both West and East Europe for this English language adaptation of Julian Barnes’ key novel."

The novel has been adapted for the big screen by Dragojevic and will be produced by Delirium’s Biljana Prvanovic along with Dragojevic and Film and Music Entertainment’s (F&ME)  Mike Downey and Sam Taylor.

Dragojevic said: "Barnes’ The Porcupine examines a recent phenomenon in Eastern Europe: nostalgia for socialism…The script treats this nostalgia as a screen, a strategy to cover up the twin traumas shared by all East European societies: the trauma of socialism and the trauma of transition. Add to this the failure of capitalism since Barnes wrote the book - and we have a very contemporary tale of two systems."

Co-producers are Departures Film from Germany with funding from MDM, Camera Ltd from Bulgaria with investment from the Bulgarian State Fund, Drugi Plan from Croatia with backing from Croatian Audiovisual Centre; Macedonia’s Sektor Film, Romania’s Elefant Films with the Premier Fund in the UK confirmed and with applications pending to the Macedonian Film Fund and the Romanian Film Fund.

Casting has continued on this project with the attachment of award winning German Actress Franziska Petri.  Petri was most recently starring in the Russian film Betrayal and is known for her memorable performances in Vanessa Jopp’s Forget America, and X-Film’s Das Herz is ein dunkeler Wald.

The lead role of Peter Solinsky in the film will be taken by Karl Markovics the Austrian actor fresh from Detlef Buck’s von Humboldt story, Measuring the World.  Opposite Markovics will play ex-Yugoslav acting legend Rade Serbedzija as "The Porcupine" - the old school ex-communist dictator Stoyo Petkanov, who conducts a formidable defence in the post Communist witch hunt that follows after the fall of Communism.  Serbedzija’s credits include:  Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Space Cowboys, Mission Impossible II, Snatch, Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
The film, which is expected to begin pre-production in late Autumn 2013 and shoot in February 2014.

Says Julian Barnes:  "I’m a child of the Cold war. At school and university I studied Russian. In 1965 I went on a big trip with friends - driving from England through Germany and Poland to Russia, up to Leningrad, down to Kiev and Odessa, into Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and home. I visited Romania again in 1979 - indeed, proposed to my wife there. I’ve been to Bulgaria twice, once just before Communism collapsed, once as it did so. So I know something of the background, and when writing The Porcupine I was helped by Bulgarian friends with certain details. I view the fall of Communism as a largely joyous event in itself, though I view much of what followed - the triumphalism of the West, the weakening of the Left’s good, true ideas (as opposed to its totalitarian tendencies), the brutal bullying of the spreading capitalist system - with dismay."

For further information on The Porcupine:
Tanja Lunardelli, Film and Music Entertainment, Tanja@fame.uk.com +44 207 255 2834

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