Country poised to join Eurimages

Georgia is poised to be the next former Soviet state to join European co-production fund Eurimages, with an announcement expected this year after diplomatic formalities are complete.

The move, which follows Russia’s March entry into the Council of Europe body that promotes cross-border projects, is likely to encourage other countries to come in, the org’s executive director Roberto Olla told Variety Wednesday.

Olla, attending the Moscow Business Square co-production event, which runs during the Moscow Film Festival, said former Yugoslav state Montenegro had begun negotiations, and Ukraine and Kazakhstan had also expressed interest. “There is definitely a new impetus towards co-productions, and other countries from the former Soviet area are likely to follow Georgia,” Olla said.

His comments came on the final day of the three-day event where the focus was on Russia in the European film process, with a range of panel discussions, co-production pitching sessions and screenings attended by producers from Russia, former Soviet states and Europe.

Although Russia and other former Soviet states have been slow to introduce incentives, the trend toward simplifying red-tape and encouraging co-productions is growing.

Earlier this year, Russia’s state Cinema Fund — one of the organizers of Moscow Business Square — announced an $8 million annual co-production support program. Speakers at a roundtable on the outlook for film industries in former Soviet countries confirmed that international co-operation was growing.

Kamila Gainanova, of the cinematography department of Kazakhstan’s ministry of culture, said tax breaks were being mulled in a country that already spends $46 million a year supporting film.

Ekaterina Kopylova, of Goskino, Ukraine’s state agency for cinema, said tax breaks were also being talked about and membership of Eurimages could come as early as 2012.Other countries open for co-productions include Armenia, Uzbekistan — where the first international festival of modern cinema is scheduled to take place in its capital, Tashkent, in October — and Belarus, where the modernization of state film studios Belarusfilm will be complete next year.French director Jacques Perrin, who made the hit documentaries “Winged Migration” (2001) and “Oceans” (2009), was among international guests at this year’s event.

“We are shooting around old Europe, and we never know beforehand where we will shoot next,” Perrin said. “That’s why we would like to establish a network of contacts that will enable us to get acquainted with nature, the environment of northern Russia and neighboring regions.”

Mario La Torre, of Italy’s cultural ministry cinema department Direzione Cinema, which recently signed a co-production treaty with Russia, praised the event for the breadth of its conferences and pitching sessions.Statistics on state film support, the number of productions completed, cinema ticket prices, annual box office grosses and other key data for Russia, former Soviet countries, the Baltics and Georgia, published specially for the Moscow Business Square this year with the support of an intergovernmental cultural and educational agency MFGS — a kind of former Soviet area UNESCO — will be made available online, organizers said.

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