Kossakovsky Brings Krogufant to the Forum

    Other buzzy titles included The Self Portrait, The Mole Agent, Writing with Fire and People's Hospital.

    Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky has unveiled fresh details at the IDFA Forum on his upcoming documentary Krogufant, exploring the emotional life of farm animals destined for our dining room tables.

    Speaking at the final session in the Central Pitches on Tuesday, Kossakovsky explained the title took its cue from a children's book about an imaginary animal combining a crocodile, jaguar and elephant. His film will focus on pigs, cows and hens. Typically, Kossakovsky – who was joined on the pitching stage by his producer Anita Rehoff Larsen at Norwegian company Sant & Usant – went off script. “They're going to kill me because I am not going to follow my script,” the filmmaker told the commissioners, sales agents and producers assembled in the Compagnietheater.

    Forum central pitches: Krogufant (Ruud Jonkers Fotografie)

    “A few of my closest friends just left the room. They said, ‘No, we're not going to listen to you or watch your trailer, you will convince us to be vegan and before lunch it's not a good pitch’,” he added.

    “Don't worry guys, I’m not to show you concentration camps with millions of pigs. I am not going to show you slaughtering. I guess we’ve already seen lots of films about slaughtering and it still didn’t work, we still don’t get it,” continued the director.

    The director instead plans to show a sow, cow and chicken with her offspring in their first two months of life. He gave a taster of the black and white, observational approach he is planning with a trailer showing a sow with her young litter, which he dedicated to Ally Derks.

    The project and trailer drew an enthusiastic response from the commissioners on the floor.  Not all the broadcasters felt they could offer it a slot in their schedules, but funders with a more creative, theatrical editorial line were enthusiastic.

    Tabitha Jackson, head of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, praised “the strength of the directorial voice” and “the execution”.

    Forum Lunch (Ruud Jonkers Fotografie)

    Other buzzy projects presented this year included arts documentary The Self Portrait, about a woman suffering from severe anorexia who turns to photography as a form of therapy, and Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent, about an octogenarian undercover agent placed in an old people’s home to investigate reports of abuse.

    Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas’s Writing with Fire, about a digital news agency run by a group of rural women belonging to the so-called ‘untouchables’ community, and People's Hospital were also titles cited by commissioners quizzed after the final Central Pitches session. The latter delves into the reality of China’s health system through a wry, fly-on-the-wall approach looking at the widening gulf between patients and health staff.

    It is the debut feature of Siyi Chen, who studied documentary in New York and Peking, in collaboration with up-and-coming producer Ruochan Xu, who worked with Nanfu Wang on Hooligan Sparrow and I Am Another You.

    Forum central pitches: Writing With Fire (Ruud Jonkers Fotografie)

    “I was happy to see Writing with Fire went really well, as did People’s Hospital with its great trailer showing fantastic access. It’s a new generation and a female filmmaker so that’s great,” said IDFA Industry chief Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen.

    “But I think what people really liked this year, especially in the Central Pitches, was the great variety ... political stories, investigative stories like Sunken Eldorado, art stories. Obviously, not every project was for everyone, but I think the selection went well,” she added.

    The Forum continues on Wednesday with Round Table Pitches including Magnus Gertten’s new project With Love, about a woman now living in hiding in Sweden who was forced to flee her native Uzbekistan after her efforts to get her brother freed from a remote desert jail propelled her into a murderous web of intrigue.