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Tribute to Mike Downey
A native of Great Britain, he originally focused on theatre art, he graduated from the University of Warwick and worked as a theatre director. Yet in Europe, Mike Downey is known primarily as one of the most significant independent producers. Fifteen years ago, he established his own company, F&ME (Film and Music Entertainment), and his portfolio includes more than fifty feature films and documentaries.
Downey's recipe for success seems to be co-production. He sees the future of British film also in the cooperation of European cinemas and common participation. During his career, he has cooperated with distinguished, original and distinctive filmmakers of both the European and Asian regions. It is interesting to note that he focused his production activities also on local co-production projects – Bathory and Angels. The overall revenue of “his” projects surpasses 300 million dollars.
IFF Febiofest will present four of his production accomplishments. The first is Goltzius and the Pelican Company (dir. Peter Greenaway, co-production of the UK, Netherlands, France, Croatia). The film balances between a film essay and a highly stylised, artistically precise historical film which allegorically discusses the possibilities of film language in general. The role of a decadent art benefactor and a spoilt aristocrat is delightfully portrayed by F. Murray Abraham.
The following two films share the year of production, the year of 2014. The pair of bitterly comedic stories present a similar motive – political dictatorship. Both offer also other layers of meaning and story lines. The President (dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, co-production of Georgia, France, UK, Germany) describes the last days of a former dictator who escapes the revolutionaries with his little grandson. Lost in Karastan (dir. Ben Hopkins, co-production of Georgia, Russia, Germany, UK) is a comedy which pokes fun at a British filmmaker who accepts an invitation to a film festival in the totalitarian Caucasian state of Karastan. The leading role of the egotistical director in this English speaking film is portrayed by British Matteh Macfayeden. Breathe Umphefumlo (dir. Mark Dornford-May, co-production of South Africa, Germany, UK) is transposition of Puccini's La Boheme to a South African slum of today. The impressive variations of famous arias are sung in the Xhosa language. The exceptional project premiered at this year's Berlinale.
Mike Downey continues his successful co-production campaign throughout the world and cinema. Out of his several projects in the making, it is worth pointing out for example the forthcoming documentary, In a Search for Miracle, which will be made in British-Bulgarian co-production. Constantin Bojanov, a Bulgarian director, follows four different natives of India who search for their own, original path of faith which helps them to overcome the mediocrity of everyday life. With Welsh Marc Evans ( Snow Cake, starring Alan Rickman), he is preparing a bitter-sweet comedy called Cassy and Jude.
Breathe Umphfumlo / Breathe Umphfumlo / Bohéma v rytmu Afriky (South Africa, Germany, United Kingdom) Director: Mark Donford - May (Tribute to Mike Downey )
Lost in Karastan / Lost in Karastan / Ztracen v Karastánu (United Kingdom, Georgia, France) Director: Ben Hopkins (Tribute to Mike Downey )
The President / The President / Prezident (Georgia, France, United Kingdom, Germany) Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Tribute to Mike Downey )
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