Last weekend I participated once again in the Nisi Masa European Short Pitch with 25 teams pitching their short film projects to 35 producers and funders from around Europe. As always the event was a great success and I was impressed with the caliber of projects and talent put before us. The three winners were: From Liverpool, Mike Forshaw with a short drama called Saturday, set around the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, From Lithuania Karolis Kaupinis with a surreal sounding short called The Noise Maker, set in a school that doesn't have enough pupils (it was like watching Ian Curtis delivering a film pitch, it was extraordinary and he kept the audience in stitches with his incredibly deadpan delivery), and From Romania (but based in London) Adina Istrate called The Gender Reassignment Musical, which pretty much tells you what it its about. I must say all three of these pitches were absolutely excellent and I think all three stories stand a really good chance of being made into really great short films.
There were many other projects and pitches that were memorable, some were a little crazy and surprising, and others were more sober. A London-based writer-actor (from Iran & Stockholm) called Yashar Alishenas; gave an entertaining Woody Allen-esque performance, another London-based actor-director called James Schlesinger held an impeccably timed exchange with the lovely Steve Evets who he brought over with him on his pitch teaser. Another team from Lithuania with a project called The Queen Of England Stole My Parents have already set out a successful Kickstarter campaign, which was so catchy they attracted a rich Sheik's thousands within the first day of their project going live. Another team presented their entire pitch dressed as cat and dog, whilst a team from Russian spent half their pitch shouting manically at each other and the audience.
Over the weekend I had the chance to meet really interesting women directors and their producers, Jenni Toivoniemi from Finland and Claire Oakley from the UK, whose previous shorts are truly breathtaking. In fact Jenni's latest short The Date, just won best international short at Sundance. Another project by a woman filmmaker was called Ana and is a genuine personal story which promises to become an award-winning short (if it's made...). It is written and to be directed by London-based Spanish director Carla Pipo.