Masha by Giedre Zickyte
“A sustainable way of feeding the world in the future, producing meat from cells in controlled environments, effectively without having to breed and slaughter animals – wouldn’t that be nice?” asks MetFilm Sales’ Vesna Cudic rhetorically of her recent Hot Docs pick-up Meat the Future.
Over the course of three years, director/producer Liz Marshall followed cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, who is at the vanguard of research into this new food technology. “I am very excited by the film,” says Cudic. “It is really topical, and it is has many [entry points]. It is about science, about the future, it’s about sustainability most of all, the environment, wellness, health, tech and start-ups. There are a lot of people with different interests who will be drawn to it.”
Cudic is also market-screening the Lithuania/Latvia/France co-production The Jump by Giedre Zickyte (see below), about a Russian sailor who caused a major diplomatic incident in 1970 by leaping from his vessel into an adjacent US ship. Cudic describes it as “a Cold War story with incredible and rare archive, about a Soviet sailor who, in a moment of heroism, tries to defect to the US.”
MetFilm Sales is also looking to sell remaining territories, including Spain, Italy, China and parts of Asia (not Japan) and some Latin America, on Jerry Rothwell’s autism-themed The Reason I Jump which picked up the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award at Sundance.
Cudic is looking for pre-sales on two projects, both by ‘all-female’ teams. “Fashion Reimagined (Becky Hutner, supported by BFI Doc Society and pitched at IDFA Forum, Hot Docs and Climate Story Lab) is about sustainable fashion, which is now obviously even more topical than it was six months ago because the fashion industry is experiencing such huge changes right now,” says Cudic.
“This is something that our central character, designer Amy Powney has been campaigning about for years now, reducing the number of fashion lines annually, producing better quality garments locally, and so on.” The film is currently being edited, and producer DUCK Productions is looking to deliver for the early 2021 festival season, says Cudic. All territories are available.
Masha seeks to solve the mystery behind the life and identity of unknown street photographer Masha Ivashintsova, whose 30,000 negatives reveal extraordinary scenes of the daily life behind the Iron Curtain in the final years of the USSR. Film notes state how “as the filmmakers search through her photos and diaries, a story worthy of a Dostoyevsky novel emerges.” The film is once again directed by Giedre Zickyte and is a co-production between France, Lithuania and Latvia. “I am super-excited by this film, which is in the vein of Finding Vivian Maier (2013),” says Cudic. All territories are available on Masha.
The MetFilm Sales chief explains her modus operandi and why pre-sales are core to her business. “A lot of networking, a lot of travel, huge amount of meetings. I always try to make myself available to the filmmakers, always try to be responsive, not to ignore emails. I try to make it really inclusive and open, and I am very open to stories coming from all over the world. I am trying to be open to opportunities and really reactive.
“The reason why I am working a lot on pre-sales is specifically because it is hard, [the sales marketplace] is so crowded. If you are waiting to acquire films once they are completed, if they have global potential and are easy to sell… then there are all these big agents who can swoop in, so it is really competitive. For me, the way to have a strong slate is to come on board early, to seek these jewels at pitching forums everywhere.”
Which means that she has been very active online since lockdown, in order to maintain visibility and to engage with new projects. Nevertheless she urges caution and the need to retain a modicum of common sense as she assesses future work life in the age of zoom.
“We are experiencing over-communication, we are all so scared not to be locked out of this world which is unfolding outside our kitchens and living rooms, so we have this need to over-communicate everything,” she stresses. That said, we must find answers to a whole new set of questions which were beyond our imagination at the beginning of 2020, she observes.
“There is something to learn going forward. Do we really need so many [markets]? Maybe some of the pitching forums can remain digital, maybe some festivals can last longer so we can do more business spread over a longer period. I would rather stay seven days in Amsterdam and do more business than have three two-day trips and fly three times to three different countries. I think there may be some improvement to be had in the future that can benefit both the business and the environment,” she concludes.