Founding group has first meeting, chooses co-toppers

Moves to set up a German-Russian film academy got a boost during the Berlin Film Festival when producers from both countries elected joint chairmen of an org to further industry ties.

A group supporting the founding of the academy (Verein zur Foerderung der Deutsch-Russischen Filmakademie), which was set up last year, had its first full meeting in the German capital on Wednesday.

The body, which has around 50 members including producers, cultural ministry officials and public funding board executives, chose German producer Simone Baumann (LE Vision, Leipzig) and Russian independent producer Alexander Rodnyansky as joint chairs.

The group aims to establish a film academy within the year, working with the Postdam-Babelsberg Film School in Berlin, to host training courses for producers and promote co-productions.

Those plans were given a boost Wednesday by Russian cultural ministry official Sergei Sernov who told association members that recent changes to Russia’s film law would make co-produtions easier.

“The Russians have relaxed rules that insisted on 70% Russian participation in co-productions to 50%,” Baumann told Variety. “Now it is possible for half the creative team and crew to be non-Russian and the project will still benefit from an 18% tax incentive. This is done simply by productions not having to pay Russian value added tax. It is a major benefit and should help spur coproductions.”

Baumann added that there were hopes that a long-awaited German-Russian co-production treaty — already agreed by the two countries’ cultural ministries — would also get go ahead soon.

“It is awaiting the greenlight from the Russian ministry of finance but that is all,” she said.

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