Programmes & Courses

The seventh and final year of the ENGAGE programme has culminated in an impressive group of up and coming filmmakers being awarded prizes for their projects.  Five students and graduates from Finland, Sweden, Germany and the UK were recipients of this year’s prizes at the final workshop of ENGAGE VII 2014, which took place from 28th September to 2nd October in Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.

All 20 ENGAGE VII participants took part in a pitching session in Tallinn, presenting their projects to a panel of film and television commissioners and professionals from across Europe.  Panel members were Jan Erik Holst (Executive Editor, Norwegian Film Institute), Kaarel Kuurmaa (Documentary & Development Consultant, Estonian Film Institute), Ross McKenzie (Development Officer, Creative Scotland), Bernd Günther-Nahm (Executive Director, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein), Brendan McCarthy (Head of Development, Financing & Distribution, Fantastic Films, Ireland), Jukka Asikainen (Screenwriter, Finland) and Anneli Ahven (Producer, Exit Film, Estonia).  The prize fund of €6,000 was provided by Creative Scotland, the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Irish Film Board and the Finnish Film Foundation.

The winners were: Writer/Producer Saana Räntilä (Finland), awarded €1,500 for her feature film Addicted to Benedict, a comedy drama following the exploits of a group of elderly friends as they follow the Pope across Europe; Writer Gerlind Becker (Germany) and Producer Violetta Palak (UK/Poland), also awarded €1,500 for their feature Candy Girls, a road/buddy movie set around two former jazz musicians reconciling their friendship; and Writer/Director Gabriela Salazar (Sweden/Chile), awarded €3,000 for her feature drama Run Run about a grieving Chilean Swedish woman running from the north to south of Chile, fulfilling her deceased partner’s dreams and exploring her roots.

This year’s Jyri Sillart memorial prize, for the project with best visuals, went to Writer/ Director Anastasia Lobkovski (Finland) for the visual approach to her children’s fantasy feature The Snow Queen.

In addition, former Edinburgh Napier University graduate Katri Vanhatalo’s documentary project A Knock on the Door was given a special mention by the panel.  Katri’s project follows the very personal journey of her uncle’s recovery from alcoholism and his attempts to find acceptance again amongst his Jehovah Witness family and community.  You can read Katri’s previous blog post on her experience at the first ENGAGE VII workshop in Dun Laoghaire here –   And ENGAGE participant and former Screen Academy Scotland MA Screenwriting student Alexia Fernandez Frasquet also collaborated with Saana Räntilä as a writer on Addicted to Benedict.

ENGAGE Director, Professor Robin MacPherson of Screen Academy Scotland at Edinburgh Napier University said:

“The seventh and final ENGAGE (in its current MEDIA supported form) revealed another vintage year of 22 talented young film and programme makers from across Europe.  Inspired by the 26 industry professionals from 9 countries who this year, as every year, generously shared their experience and expertise, at the very last plenary workshop in Tallinn their up-and-coming colleagues impressed an independent panel of experts with the quality, diversity and professionalism of their project pitches.  After seven years of introducing young Europeans to each other and to the European audiovisual scene and building cross-border links which will endure, it’s time for ENGAGE to call ‘wrap’.   But plans are well advanced for a new and different successor project that will take the best of ENGAGE and build it into a new format to be presented to the ERASMUS+ programme which is the new home for what were formerly the MEDIA Initial Training projects.  

On a personal note, having led ENGAGE for the past seven years it’s also time for me to step back and let a new generation of colleagues take the lead.  I’ve been very fortunate in having had the pleasure to work with a fantastic set of colleagues both at Screen Academy Scotland and our partner film schools IADT, BFM and Aalto as well as the many, many industry colleagues who have contributed so much over that time and ensured that ENGAGE not only met but exceeded our expectations.  To MEDIA, the national film funds and to everyone who has ‘engaged’ my heartfelt thanks.”

ENGAGE, a collaboration between Screen Academy Scotland at Edinburgh Napier University, the National Film School at IADT in Ireland, the Baltic Film & Media School at Tallinn University and the University of Art & Design Helsinki, has just completed its seventh year. It has been supported on an annual basis by the MEDIA programme of the European Union since 2008.

ENGAGE fostered creative collaboration between student and recently graduated filmmakers in Europe by providing a 6 month programme of workshops and development activities designed to enable participants to benefit from the expertise, insight and feedback of a wide range of industry professionals.  Although ENGAGE in its current format has now come to an end, it is hoped a new training initiative for up and coming filmmakers will be established in 2015.

For further information about future ENGAGE plans see the website –