Zagreb Film Festival Retrospective to be dedicated to Film and Music Entertainment’s Mike Downey and Sam Taylor

// 21st of May, 2009

Zagreb Film Festival Retrospective to be dedicated to Film and Music Entertainment’s Mike Downey and Sam Taylor

The Croatian capital’s largest cultural event, the Zagreb Film Festival, announced today that their first ever retrospective will be dedicated to the production work of Mike Downey and Sam Taylor of London-based production house Film and Music Entertainment.

"Our retrospective will now become an annual event, and will focus on producers who have devoted much of their energy in nurturing new talent, " says Zagreb Film Festival director Boris T Matic, "and we are very pleased that Mike and Sam have agreed to be the subject of this inaugural retrospective. Over the years they have been tireless supporters of debutant film makers and it is our pleasure to honour two such committed and dedicated cineastes."

The Zagreb Film Festival is the premier central European event screening films uniquely by first time directors, and in the 8 years since the foundation of Film and Music Entertainment nearly half of the 34 features that Downey and Taylor have produced have been by first timers. And prior to the foundation of F&ME between them they supported the debuts of quality directors like Milcho Manchevski, Benjamin Ross and Christos Georgiu.

"The refreshing thing about working with first timers," says F&ME’s Downey, "Is that with each new film, you are forced to evaluate things anew and throw away the rulebook. It’s exciting, it’s refreshing and it keeps us on our toes! We have put together a significant body of work over the years, and it is great that such a prestigious festival as Zagreb has chosen to honour Sam and myself in this way."

Among the films to be screened as part of the retrospective will be Michael J Basset’s World War One horror thriller Deathwatch, shot in the Czech republic with Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis; GUY X, directed by Saul Metzstein in Iceland and Canada starring Jason Biggs and Natasha McElhone; Turtle: The Incredible Journey a feature documentary narrated by Miranda Richardson and directed by Nick Stringer and shot throughout the oceans of the world; and Under The Stars shot in Cyprus and directed by Christos Georgiu.

Further debutant films produced by Downey and Taylor include Swiss director Simon Aeby’s sword and sandals epic Shadow of the Sword; Jannick Johansen’s Danish/UK suspenser Murk; Hillmar Oddson’s Icelandic /UK drama Cold Light; Mark Dornford-May’s South African township retelling of the Gospels, Son of Man; Pekka Lehtosaari’s Finnish/Russian animation film Quest for a Heart, starring Mackenzie Crook; Miguel Alcantud’s Italian classical music thriller starring Derek Jacobi: Anastezi-The Great Silence; and Guillermo Groizard’s Spanish film Proyecto Dos.

As icing on the cake at the festival, Matic has programmed in the main programme, out of competition, the Croatian premiere of Dominic Murphy’s Sundance/Berlin hit White Lightnin’. The film, also by a first timer, was shot in and around Zagreb doubling for West Virginia. A gala event is planned by the local co-producer and service provider Mainframe Productions.

"We have worked a huge amount in the region," says Downey, who has produced films by Rajko Grlic, Srdjan Karanovic, Antonio Nuic and Goran Rusinovic, "and it’s nice to know that one’s work both in and outside the area is appreciated. We look forward very much to having a look back at the last years’ work. But there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet. Sam and I are looking forward to the next 34 films."

Downey has been voted in as board member of the European Film Academy for two successive terms and is currently serving his second term on the BAFTA Council, and first term on the BAFTA Film Committee, and has just joined the Board of Directors of The Cheltenham Screenwriters Festival. Taylor has for many years sat on the Pact Skillset Board.

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