Independent sector reels from state film support changes

RUSSIA

Indie film production in Russia is an endangered species at risk of extinction after big changes in the way state film support is channeled to producers.

A new system introduced late last year with the backing of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has left many indie producers out in the cold.

Eight of the country’s biggest production companies — Direksiya Kino (which produces films for Russia’s top TV pubcaster the First Channel), Nikita Mikhalkov’s TriTe, Central Partnership, Timure Bekmambetov’s Bazaleevs, Profit, Rekun, St. Petersburg-based STV and R-Pictures — have each been given $8.5 million to produce at least three features. At least 30% of the budget of each film must come from private sources.

Producers left out in the cold include Renat Daletyarov of Real Dakota, which has a string of Russian comedy hits including “Lubov Morkov,” and Sergey Livnev of Leopolis, whose hits include spoof “Hitler Kaput.”

“Indie producers are looking much more closely at international co-productions,” says arthouse distrib/producer Sam Klebanov of Kino Bez Granits. Distributors of indie fare are increasingly turning to 3D, with titles such as Hong Kong horror film “Child’s Eye” — in development by the Pang brothers — a recent pickup by Kino Bez Granits.

Total 2009 box office: $735 million

Total 2009 releases: 323

Top 2009 indie film: “New Moon” $18.6 million

Top 2010 indie pickups:

• “Precious,” LeopArt

• “Enter the Void,” Premium

• “The Big Dream,” Kino Bez Granits

• “The Illusionist” Kino Bez Granits

• “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil,” Luxor

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