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Let’s disclose the 10 FeatureLab projects of 2021

TFL Selections & Awards

Let’s disclose the 10 FeatureLab projects of 2021

May 6, 2021

Ten feature film projects at an advanced development stage are ready to become more and more real.

We are glad to disclose the official selection of the programme led – since 2019 – by the Head of Studies Violeta Bava and curated by Vincenzo Bugno.

“I would like to talk about the creative vigor of these projects – said Bugno – the narrative structures are innovative and their characters, beyond any cliché, come from very different environments and cultural realities. The topic of the family – including contradiction and sense of belonging – seems to play a common and central role within the projects. But we are not looking for topics, we are looking for films; behind these projects, there are already filmmakers with a strong artistic voice.”

The 2021 selection includes 13 female and 9 male emerging professionals active in directing, screenwriting and production, coming from all over the world - Mongolia, Chile, China, France, Finland, Egypt, Israel, Slovenia, Spain, Austria and Iran - and a good balance between first and second feature film projects, respectively 4 debuts and 6 sophomore films, proposed by 10 creative teams.

Keep reading for titles and names.

Director: Nayra Ilic García (Chile)
Producer: Dominga Ortúzar (Chile) – Oro Films
Special marks: This project took part in a TFL Next workshop in 2020.

After the death of her father, Celeste's life (16) changes course. Her mother isolates herself, drugs take over the coast town where she grew up and she seeks affection in the wrong people exposing herself to danger. Celeste wants things to be as they were before, but that means giving up the new life she hopes for.

Director and writer: Tao Zhang (China)
Co-writer: Jérémie Dubois (France)
Producer: Vincent Wang (France) - House on Fire
Special marks: His debut film “Last Laugh”, was showcased in the frame of ACID Cannes 2017.

Dayao and Tiantian live in the countryside but work hard in the city. Pregnant, she wants to buy an apartment there, it is the only way to hope for a better life. When Dayao miraculously survives an accident, he is transformed, free. He waits for her to leave the city and follow him into the forest.


FAMILY TIME – 1st film
Director: Tia Kouvo (Finland)
Producer: Jussi Rantamäki (Finland) - Aamu Film Company
Special marks: Rantamäki produced Cannes un Certain Regard winner “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” (TFL Script&Pitch 2014) and “Fucking With Nobody” in 2020.

It's Christmas time and the family is gathered. Everything goes as usual; grandfather drinks too much and grandmother is trying to keep up everyone's mood. After Christmas, the family members go back to their own, private lives, until it's time for yet another family occasion. A tragicomic study on family dynamics, on loneliness and being together. On how we try to find connection, but don't always succeed.

Director/writer: Ahmed Fawzi-Saleh (Egypt)
Director/producer: Ahmed Amer (Egypt & USA) - A. A. Films
Special marks: Fawzi Saleh previous work “Poisonous Roses”, was featured in the official selection of IFFR 2018.

Ahmed, a rebellious son of the "king" of a slum where the junk of Cairo is collected, struggles to find a place for himself in a patriarchal world. He seeks solace in Sufism as an escape from his oppressive reality.  The ghost of his late father appears to him during a Sufi ritual forcing him to seek revenge and confront what he strived to leave behind. 

HOME – 1st film
Director: Or Sinai (Israel)
Producer: Adi Bar Yossef (Israel) – BARYO
Special marks: The project took part in TFL ScriptLab 2020 and her fiction short "Anna", won both the Cinéfondation First Prize at Cannes in 2016 and an honourable mention at TIFF 2016.

After 15 years of providing her family from afar, working devotedly for a rich family in the affluent Caesarea, in Israel, Bella (50) must leave her "temporary Israeli identity" and go back to Ukraine to fight back her place in her family, in a quest to rediscover both herself and her home.

Writer/Director: Urška Djukić (Slovenia)
Writer/Producer: Marina Gumzi (Slovenia) – Nosorogi
Special marks: Djukić co-directed a short film “The Right One” that was presented within Cannes 2019. She also developed “Little Trouble Girls” within Cinéfondation Residence.

In the early 2000s, a shy and sensitive 16-year-old spends her first year at the catholic high school's choir navigating between society's rules and her budding curiosity in eroticism.

NINA – 2nd film
Writer/Director: Andrea Jaurrieta (Spain)
Producer: Alex Lafuente (Spain) - Bteam Pictures / Icónica
Special marks: Jaurrieta was nominated at the GOYA award 2019 as “Best New Director” for its debut film “Ana by Day”.

Nina, a 45-year-old woman who fled her village in the north of Spain as a teenager, returns 30 years later, sick and a failed actress, to avenge the man who abused her. Reconnecting with the town and her memories will make her rethink whether revenge is the only way to kill her demons.


Director: Elsa Kremser (Austria)
Director: Levin Peter (Austria)
Producer: Lixi Frank (Austria) - Panama Film
Special marks: “Space dogs”, their first work together as directors, was presented at Locarno in 2019.

A young woman, looking for death, finds a man who opens dead bodies in the morgue and brings them to life on his oil paintings. Caught between their own fears and mutual attraction, they wander through the warm Minsk nights. It is a story of an impossible love in the last summer in Belarus.

Director: Alireza Khatami (Iran)
Producer: Elisa Sepulveda Ruddoff (France) – Fulgurance
Special marks: Khatami’s debut “Oblivion Verses” premiered in Orizzonti (Venezia 2017).

Haunted by the suspicious death of his ailing mother, a struggling university professor coerces his enigmatic gardener to carry a cold-blooded act of revenge against his father. However, soon doubts begin to grow if what he did was right.

ZE – 1st film
Director: Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir (Mongolia)
Producer: Katia Khazak (France) - Aurora Films
Special marks: TFL ScriptLab project 2019.
She got the Locarno Open Doors prize in 2020 and her short film “Mountain Cat” won the Best Short Film in Busan International Film Festival 2020.

Meek teenage shaman ZE falls in love with MARLA, a defiant girl who visits Ze's spirit because of an illness. Ze faces the fickle nature of life, love, and growing up when Marla rejects his affections. His personal crisis affects the fragile yurt-district community that depends on his spirit. An intimate and sober portrayal of adolescence set in contemporary Ulaanbaatar.

The ten international creative teams will have the chance to work with experts from the fields of directing, cinematography, sound, but also from production, financing, marketing & sales, and audience engagement. Finally, they’ll also compete for the TFL Production Awards and collateral prizes supporting the production process.

FeatureLab 2021 is organised thanks to the partnerships with the Austrian Film Institute and also with Comunidad de Madrid and Ayuntamiento de Madrid.