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The inaugural edition of CIRCLE Fiction Orbit wraps up in Herceg Novi, Montenegro!

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

After five years of connecting women and non-binary filmmakers through CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator, CIRCLE is expanding into the sphere of fiction filmmaking with its new training initiative - CIRCLE Fiction Orbit.

Photo: Maja Medić

The pilot edition of the program took place in Herceg Novi, Montenegro, with nine participants from all over the world gathering in order to assess their needs and advance their projects with the help of renowned mentors. They are grouped into five filmmaker teams, joining together a diverse group of actresses, screenwriters, directors

and producers.

CIRCLE Fiction Orbit is, first and foremost, a safe space for fiction filmmakers to express their doubts, hopes and aspirations and go in depth into all aspects of the filmmaking process. Creative and psychological support are at the forefront of this new initiative, which builds on the CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator methodology.

The selection committee, consisting of Jelena Mišeljić, Rok Biček and Paula Vaccaro, selected five fiction projects in development for the inaugural edition of the program. All of the projects showcase a broad range of thematic and stylistic preoccupations, while already demonstrating strong international potential.

Photo: Maja Medić

Two childhood friends rediscover their relationship by climbing the perilous slopes of Mount Etna in IDDA, directed by Irene Dionisio (Italy), while unresolved traumas arise during a birthday gathering in KAFFEMIK by director Pipaluk Jørgensen (Greenland) and screenwriter / actress Nukâka Coster Waldau (Greenland). The unrelenting grip of the past is a starting point of LEX JULIA by director Laura Hyppönen and producer Merja Ritola (Finland). The relationship to a homeland left behind pervades PERLA, directed by Alexandra Makarová (Austria and Slovakia) and produced by Sabine Gruber (Austria). Finally, the destinies of four young women intertwine in the dreamlike spaces of contemporary Uzbekistan in THE FOURTH WAY by director Sasha Kulak (Belarus) and producer Julia Shaginurova (Germany).

The head of studies for the inaugural edition of CIRCLE Fiction Orbit is Bianca Oana, Oscar nominated Romanian producer renowned in both fiction and documentary field (Touch Me Not - Berlinale, Golden Bear 2018; Collective - Venice FF, Academy Award Nominee 2021, Anhell69 - Venice FF 2022, DOK Leipzig Golden Dove Award). Other mentors include: Dana Bunescu, acclaimed Romanian editor and sound designer (The Death of Mr Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days - Cannes Golden Palm 2007, Ana, mon amour - Silver Bear 2017); Dominique Welinski, French producer and founder of the Director’s Factory in the scope of Director's Fortnight in Cannes; accomplished/prominent Swiss producer Britta Rindelaub (The Hive, Sundance 2021); Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, award-winning Costa Rican screenwriter and director based in Sweden (Clara Sola, Cannes 2021); and Ivana Mladenović, Serbian-Romanian screenwriter, director and actress (Soldiers: Stories from Ferentari - San Sebastian 2017; Ivana the Terrible, Locarno 2019 - Special Jury Prize).

In the frame of the workshop, CIRCLE offers two screenings for the local public in Herceg Novi - Clara Sola (2021) and Ivana the Terrible (2019) and three masterclasses for local film professionals. The open program is organized in partnership with the Film Centre of Montenegro and Dvorana Park in Herceg Novi.


Directed by: Nathalie Álvarez Mesén

Produced by: Nima Yousefi, Alan McConnell, Géraldine Sprimont, Anne-Laure

Guégan, Karina Avellan Troz, Marcelo Quesada Mena

| 106 min. | Sweden, Costa Rica, Belgium | 2021

Still from Clara Sola

Logline: In a remote village in Costa Rica, Clara, a withdrawn 40-year-old woman, experiences a sexual and mystical awakening as she begins a journey to free herself from the repressive religious and social conventions which have dominated her life.


Directed by: Ivana Mladenović

Produced by: Ada Solomon, Ivana Mladenović

| 86 min. | Serbia, Romania | 2019

Logline: Ivana invites friends, family and former lovers to play themselves; their emotions in a scripted version of the story of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. On the Danube border, drama becomes a comedy.

Full list of participants and projects:


Participant: Irene Dionisio, director (Italy)

Creative producer: Isabella Weber

Produced by: Giovanni Pompili

Production company: Kino Produzioni (Italy)


Participants: Pipaluk Jørgensen, director and screenwriter (Greenland) and Nukâka

Coster Waldau, screenwriter and actress (Greenland)

Produced by: Marika Lomholt Hakesberg and Emile Hertling Péronard

Production company: Polarama (Greenland)


Participants: Laura Hyppönen, director (Finland) and Merja Ritola, producer (Finland)

Produced by: Merja Ritola (Greenlit Productions, Finland)

Co-producers: Marianne Ostrat (Alexandra Film, Estonia) and Richard Kondal (Big

Safari, UK)


Participants: Alexandra Makarová, writer and director (Austria and Slovakia) and Sabine

Gruber, producer (Austria)

Produced by: Sabine Gruber and Arash T. Riahi

Production company: Golden Girls Film (Austria)


Participants: Sasha Kulak, director (Belarus) and Julia Shaginurova, producer


Produced by: Julia Shaginurova and Louis Beaudemont

Production companies: Einbahnstraße Productions (Germany), SESTRA Films

(Uzbekistan) and Les Steppes (France)

CIRCLE Fiction Orbit is organized in partnership with the Film Centre of Montenegro

and is co-funded by Creative Europe - MEDIA.

CIRCLE is co-funded by Creative Europe - MEDIA and organized by Wake Up Films production. Other partners of the program include: When East Meets West Co-pro Forum, Cannes Docs - Marché du Film, Documentary Association of Europe (DAE), European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA), International Emerging Film Talent Association (IEFTA), Film Centre of Montenegro, Greek Film Centre, Agora Docs, CED - MEDIA Office Croatia, CED - MEDIA Office Slovenia, Motovila, Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Cineuropa, Beldocs and EURODOC.

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