SOFA European training program launched in Poland with largest class to date

SOFA European training program launched in Poland with largest class to date


The European School of Film Advancement (SOFA) training program, which aims to strengthen regional film industries across Europe with a focus on Eastern Partnership, has launched its ninth edition and project selection for 2022-2023.

The first SOFA workshop, which runs until September 30, started on Sunday outside the Polish capital Warsaw.

After two virtual years, the program returns with an expanded edition consisting of a lineup of 16 projects and 20 participants, made up of up-and-coming film industry executives, curators and cultural managers from 17 countries, including Ukraine, Belarus, Poland , Czech Republic, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Denmark, Bangladesh, Switzerland and Germany.


During the opening session of the programme, participants emphasized the need for creative cooperation across borders between the countries of the Eastern Partnership and the EU, given the fraught political situation in a number of European countries.

SOFA’s 2022-2023 project selection includes corporate and institutional projects focused on environmental activism, mental health in the film industry, film education, indigenous cultures, sustainability, inclusion and accessibility, and the preservation of independent film journalism and criticism, as well as distance learning.

Projects are selected on the basis of their “quality and feasibility” in developing the film culture and industry in their country of origin and must have “the ambition to promote structural change or new forms of collaboration in the regional film landscape.”

Projects include Cinema Nutsa by documentary filmmaker and Sundance/Berlinale alumna, Georgia, Salomé Jashi, who aims to establish the first arthouse cinema in Tbilisi in 2021; the establishment of a Council for Audiovisual Production in Azerbaijan by Gunel Gadirova; and Sane Cinema by Louise Højgaard Johansen (Denmark/Czech Republic), an international consultancy focused on mental health in the film industry and developing tools for organizations and individuals. Other projects include WarszawaPraga Studio, a digital media and video production facility affiliated with the redevelopment of a rough neighborhood in Warsaw, and MoreFilm.Fun by Olga Zhurzhenko and Sia Titova (Ukraine/Poland), a distribution company based in focuses on children’s content.

SOFA’s intensive one-year program, consisting of three focused workshops supplemented by regular virtual sessions, aims to support, nurture and realize the “dream projects” of the participants who sign up with a specific project plan in the field of distribution. education, financing, exhibition, curation or criticism. The projects are then tracked over the course of the year, with each of the intensive workshops focusing on project development, marketing strategies, as well as financing and business plans.

SOFA Director Nikolaj Nikitin said: “Projects supporting activism, free expression or the establishment of institutions that help develop the pan-regional cultural industries are highly valued by SOFA this year. In challenging times, along with the development of new businesses and independent institutions, it is a clear priority to support projects that see film and AV-Media as a force for freedom of expression, resistance and empowerment through our common work of civil society .”

Berenika Partum, SOFA Project Manager for Poland/Hungary, added: “The heart of SOFA is nurturing and connecting the human infrastructure that can support a positive, cooperative impact of a film industry and culture across Europe and beyond.”

SOFA’s decision-makers include Ewa Puszczyńska (Poland), producer of the films “Cold War” and “Ida”; Tine Klint (Denmark), founder of sales agent and aggregator LevelK; Jan Naszewski (Poland) of New Europe Film Sales; Iza Kiszka-Hoflik IKH Pictures Production (Poland); Michal Bregant (Czech Republic), CEO of Národní filmový archive, Prague, and President of ACE – Association des Cinémathèques Européennes; Karel Och (Czech Republic), Artistic Director of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; Marit Van Den Elshout (Netherlands), former head of IFFR Pro; Jay Rinsky (US), who runs Little Cinema; producer Peter Rommel (Germany); and former head of the Israel Film Fund Katriel Schory.

The SOFA participants 2022-23 are:

  • Leonid Kalitenya and Natalia Bruzhnik (Belarus / Lithuania) with the project BFN – Belarusian
    Filmmakers Network
  • Dániel Botos and Máté Körösi (Hungary) with the CinemaJam . project
  • Bibesh Roy and Arifur Rahman Khan (Bangladesh) with the project TALKIES – A Cinematic Pleasure
  • Olga Zhurzhenko and Sia Titova (Ukraine / Poland) with the MoreFilm.Fun project
  • Pavel Ruzyak (Czech Republic) with the project Filming without Barriers
  • Gunel Gadirova (Azerbaijan) with the project Council for Audiovisual Production
  • Salomé Jashi (Georgia) with the project Cinema Nutsa
  • Grzegorz Czyż (Poland) with the project WarszawaPraga Studio
  • Louise Højgaard Johansen (Denmark/Czech Republic) with the project Sane Cinema
  • Elena Rubashevska (Ukraine / Poland) with the project IFCH – International Film Critics Hub
  • Teimuraz Chkhvimiani (Georgia) with the Deli Residency project at Svaneti IFF
  • Joanna Wyrwa (Poland) with the Film for Better project
  • Nadejda Koseva (Bulgaria) with the project CITE – Cinema International Teenage Education
  • Aleksandar Arsovski (North Macedonia/Croatia) with the project Short Fits – Film Market
  • Danijela Radulović (Montenegro) with the project PROFILMIA LAB – Virtual Film Lab
  • Anja Mayer (Germany / Switzerland) with the project My Remote Knowledge Guide


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