#IrishFilm: UK/Irish production company F&ME launch 2018 Slate at Berlinale
Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) the UK and Dublin-based production house run by veteran producers Mike Downey and Samantha Taylor has boosted its 2017/18 production slate to 10 features to be completed or go into production during 2018. The announcement comes hard on the heels of the unveiling of their most recent project (shooting in Dublin) , Rudolph Herzog’s How To Sell a War which has been picked up by Bankside for world sales and which starts mid-March.
We are in the business of producing what I would call world cinema, and so working with our sister companies across Europe and the Caucasus, we have been able to put together a business model that maximises our international talent pool, provides a mutually beneficial two-way co-production street, and in doing so keeps costs manageable and money up on the screen. Insulation against the whims of our political masters has been the name of the game since the demise of a number of producer friendly tools in the last years.
Mike Downey – F&ME
Staying in Georgia and currently at the writing stage, F&ME (IRE) will partner once again with Vladimer Katcharava’s 20 Steps Productions on Nene, the follow up to their previous collaboration Marian Khatchvani’s multi award winning Dede. Nene is already blazing a trail with being selected for this year’s Cannes Cinefondation and winning the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) development grant in December, after being unveiled among four projects from 105 initial submissions. Based on a true story, the feature is centred around the subject of the arbitrary use of power by law enforcement agencies and their use of force against citizens. The film will be produced and co-written by Katcharava, in partnership with Downey and Taylor as well as Dede collaborator JaJa Film Productions of the Netherlands.
With the FIFA World Cup on the horizon this summer, in May another event takes place, The Street Child World Cup. F&ME (IRE) again with Jamillah van der Hulst and Conrad Alleblas’ JaJa Film Productions have partnered on the previous feature length Streetkids United (shot in South Africa) and Streekids United II -The Girls from Rio (shot there). The third in the series is Streekids United III – The Road To Russia will take up the story of the over two hundred street-connected children from across the world will come together in Moscow for their own international football tournament, festival of arts and Congress for their rights. The film will be an Irish/Dutch co-production.
It is a little-known fact that there are over one hundred million street children in the world today. The goal of the documentary is to provide an entertaining, enlightening and elevating insight into the problems of child homelessness across the globe, and to give voice to the voiceless millions of children on the streets – allowing them to stand up and say “I am Somebody”
Mike Downey – F&ME
F&ME has also just come to the end of post-production on another collaboration with JaJa Film Production. Jamillah van der Hulst directs a hard hitting (literally) feature documentary Fighting for Life which is a unique look inside the South African prison Drakenstein Correctional Center and the impressive work of Dutch boxing coach Sharita in the rehabilitation program for prisoners that are serving heavy sentences. Prior to it’s International Premiere, Fighting For Life will get its Dutch premiere during the Sport Film Festival in Rotterdam where Sharita is a Boxing Sports Coordinator for Rotterdam.
Next up for Fame is the Russia/Ireland/France/Lithuania co-production of Ivan I. Tverdovsky’s Jumpman. Best known for his films Corrections Class and Zoology the film is produced by Mila Rozanova of Moscow’s New People Film Company in partnership with Downey and Taylor of F&ME (IRE), Arizona Productions and UAB Tremora and is supported by Eurimages. Jumpman tells the story of Denis – young man suffering from a rare disease – complete numbness to pain – who becomes the centre of a corrupt scam, organised by a group of Russian civil servants.
Moving to Central Europe, F&ME (IRE) is also partnering with Ivan Ostrochovský and Katarina Tomkova of Bratislava’s Punkchart Films on a screenplay written by Rebecca Lenckiewicz (Academy Award and EFA for IDA) and Marek Leščák entitled The Disciple. Ostrochovský, who made his name with art house breakout hits Velvet Terrorists and Koza directs this drama set in a Catholic seminary in Communist Slovakia which will begin shooting in March and will also do post-production in Dublin.
The Disciple tells the story of 17-year-old boy best friends Michal and Juraj leave their home village of Spis in Slovakia to join a Seminary in Bratislava. Two boys fight the oppressive system, but the question is who will win? The film is a Slovak, Czech, Romania, Ireland co-production led by Ostrochovský’s Punkchart, with Pavel Strnad’s NEGATIV s.r.o, Tudor Giurgiu’s Libra Film Productions and F&ME (IRE) as partners.
Meanwhile the recently completed Elvis Walks Home written by Jonathan Preece and directed by Fatmir Koci was picked up this week by Phoenix World Entertainment (also handles Koci/F&ME last production Amsterdam Express) for international sales and had its UK premiere at the London International Film Festival yesterday. Work has begun on their latest partnership, an adaptation of the legendary Arthur Machen’s fantasy masterwork Hill of Dreams in which young aspiring writer seeks beauty through literature but is lured by a femme fatale into a visionary world of fantasy and nightmare in Victorian London.
Machen has inspired artists and writers as far and wide as Michael Powell and Mick Jagger, from “Lost Boy” Peter Llewellyn-Davis to former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as well as being a huge influence on director Guillermo del Toro.
For the first time ever, I’m writing a film about a writer and a story of which I know quite well. As the founder of The Friends of Arthur Machen, the literary society dedicated to promoting Machen, and I have written on various aspects of Machen’s writing. Moreover, as a native of Gwent I, too, have experienced the brooding countryside that Machen describes, and which plays so fundamental a part in The Hill of Dreams.
Jonathan Preece, Writer/Director
Also in the late stages of development is an adaptation of the novel Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker which is currently being adapted by playwright Chloe Moss; a version of the Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, and just after its world premiere in Goteborg is Once Upon a Time in November directed by long-time associate Andrzej Jakimowski.
Last year’s Berlinale saw F&ME (IRE) in official competition with Return To Montauk starring Stellan Skarsgard and Nina Hoss, written by Irish writer Colum Toibin; they executive produced Finnish Academy Award entry Tom of Finland, the Macedonian Academy entry The Liberation of Skopje and the Karlovy Vary special Jury prize/ Asia Pacific Screen Academy winner Dede as well as Rajko Grlic’s The Constitution which picked up over 30 international awards, and on top of that Downey was a consultant on Michel Franco’s controversial Cannes entry April’s Daughters and associate producer on Bodo Kox’s The Man With The Magic Box.
Sam Taylor and Mike Downey founded the UK-based independent production house Film and Music Entertainment as part of an IPO on the Frankfurt DAX. Film & Music Entertainment films have been screened at Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Venice, San Sebastian and Toronto Film festivals. The first 18 years of F&ME’s existence saw it entering into production on 60-odd co-productions with a total budget of $ 200 million involving 132 production companies from all over Europe, Latin America and Asia. It now has a catalogue of rights in over 60 features including Academy Award Nominee and Venice Golden Lion winner Before the Rain, Academy Award Nominee Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Venice opener The President, box office horror hit Deathwatch, Sundance South African hit Son of Man, Jason Biggs starrer Guy X and Dinard winner White Lightnin’ as well as 2012 Berlinale Audience Award Winner Parada by Srdjan Dragojevic.