RWS launches $20 million film finance fund

SOCHI, Russia — A leading Russian studio facility and production company launched a $20 million film finance fund Thursday to kick start movies that have stalled due to the recession.

Russian World Studios — which is owned by AFK Sistema, one of Russia’s top industrial companies — said the coin would finance projects put on hold in recent months.

“Our aim is to help the Russian film industry get through the crisis by providing money for high-class projects,” Sergei Chliants, RWS head of production and distribution, told producers gathered in Sochi for the 20th edition of Kinotavr, a film festival devoted to Russian pics.

The money will be available for projects that have juddered to a halt from the earliest stages of development to those that had already reached production when the cash ran out.

Pledging a “calm and straightforward” process by a company with a reputation for transparency and Western standards of corporate governance, Chliants said that up to eight projects would be chosen for support in the next 18 months, with finance averaging $2.5 million per project.

Noting that out of some 80 Russian-made theatrical feature release last year, only a handful achieved any kind of commercial success, Chliants said that only the best projects with the highest artistic and commercial prospects would win support.

But producers were free to submit proposals, with a dedicated website http://www.rwsff.ru set up to ease the process and a local trade publications advertising campaign depicting a stack of $100 bills to publicize it.

Yuri Sapronov, RWS general director, said the investment offer was one that would benefit both his company — through kickstarting a domestic industry stalled by recession — and filmmakers frustrated by the drying up both of private funds and suspension this year of state funds while the Ministry of Culture, which channels public money to filmmakers, undergoes a Kremlin-ordered shake up.

“The money is available for the next 18 months but we may look at reinvesting profits if it is successful,” he said.

RWS last year opened new state of the art studios in St. Petersburg.

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