Russia seeks to partner with Euro neighbors as biz matures

Russia is forging a path in international co-productions, helped by developments that include the country joining Eurimages and new government funds for co-prods.

Russian producers can now access financial support from Eurimages — the EU-backed support fund for co-production and distribution — for co-productions with European countries, while distributors and exhibitors can co-finance Russia’s transition to digital projection technology.

Earlier this year, Sergey Tolstikov, head of the state-backed Cinema Fund, said he would set aside $8 million in state coin for international projects, although Russian industry insiders say it is not yet clear when the funds can be accessed.

That does not seem to be slowing the trend: 21 feature co-prods are set to be shot this year, including German director Veit Helmer’s romantic comedy “Baikonur” set in and around the Russian space-rocket launch station in Kazakhstan.

The new direction in co-prods is bolstered by two annual industry events: the Moscow Business Square co-production market, which runs during the Moscow film festival (June 27-29), and October’s Project for Tomorrow that showcases works in progress from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Co-productions are a hot topic at the Film Finance Forum Moscow presented by Winston Baker in association with Variety. “The Last Station” producer Chris Curling of Zephyr Films says he had positive experiences in working in Russia.

The film, which centered on events during Leo Tolstoy’s waning years, was largely shot in Germany and funded by Teutonic regional funds but also included the participation of Russian director-producer Andrey Konchalovsky, and used locations at Tolstoy’s country estate near Moscow.

“My experience could not have been more positive; we had a Russian composer and recorded the music in St. Petersburg,” says Curling, who will address the forum.

“The Russian market is growing very fast,” says. “It seems to me that the Russian film industry will soon be taking its place among the French, German, British, Italian and Spanish industries. The more contact the better.”

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