Countries work out details on long-awaited deal

Russian competition film “Innocent Saturday” — the country’s first feature about the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster — found its German co-producer, Bavaria Pictures, thanks to a Moscow Film Festival business event.

The film, the second feature directed by veteran Russian screenwriter Alexander Mindadze, was one of a number of projects selected for the inaugural edition of co-production forum Moscow Business Square.

Leipzig-based producer Simone Baumann, a fluent Russian speaker with more than 20 years’ experience working with Russia, was involved in the forum and knew Bavaria was looking for a Chernobyl project.

She put the filmmakers in touch with Bavaria, which came in as a co-producer, adding European coin to backing from Russian and Ukrainian producers who include Alexander Rodnyansky and Oleg Kohan.

Philipp Kreuzer, deputy managing director for Bavaria Pictures, said Matthius Esche, head of mother company Bavaria Film, had been developing a Chernobyl project but was not entirely satisfied with its direction.

Baumann, well known in Germany for her Russian connections, was a natural choice to turn to for contacts in the region, and she was able to introduce Esche to Mindadze.

“Simone acted as a bridge into Russia for us, and after the meeting with Mindadze, we decided not to pursue our own project but to become involved in the Russian-Ukrainian one,” Kreuzer said.

Bavaria supplied all the camera equipment and organized the CGI, which was used to re-create sequences where the nuclear reactor goes into meltdown.

“It was a true co-production with a lot of creative involvement. We are very happy with the result — a real ‘auteur’ film with a subtle message that we believe will appeal to audiences,” Kreuzer added.

Said Baumann: “The project was already quite well developed and the quality of the script convinced Esche to go with it. The fact it is now in competition here shows the value of networking.”

Anna Katchko, a co-founder of the Moscow event with Olga Kolegaeva and Konstantin Nafikov of RFilms, said the role the event played was key.

“The way in which this project came together — and the fact that is now in competition in Berlin — demonstrates the importance of such events,” Katchko said.

The number of co-productions made in Russia is growing, she added, with some 20 in the pipeline this year.

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