Russia warms up to the west

Country bows international co-prod incentives

The Kremlin has launched several measures designed to make filming in Russia easier.

A national film commission is planned and regional film bodies are already promoting film-friendly policies.

The country’s Cinema Fund is opening an office in Los Angeles to Russian-U.S. co-productions and the Red Square Screenings, aimed at foreign film professionals, will bow in October at a cinema in luxury store GUM on Moscow’s Red Square.

The initiatives announced in Cannes reflect a growing trend to integrate the world’s fifth biggest movie market into the global movie business.

Producer Vyacheslav Telnov, head of film funding at the Russian Ministry of Culture, told Variety that foreign producers can be confident about doing business with the Russians.

“Things have changed a lot in recent years and there is a new generation of Russian producers with a better understanding of how business is done internationally,” Telnov said.

The moves are partially prompted by a growing awareness among local producers of the need to stake a claim in the international English-language movie market amid evidence of the limits of domestic box office for local film.

Russian movies enjoyed a wave of popularity that gave them a a 25% share of a $1 billion annual box office until five years ago when a glut of low-quality features turned auds off the local brand.

Today Russian movies struggle to get 13% with Hollywood films taking the biggest share.

The Cinema Fund plans to spend around $13 million supporting Russian international co-productions in the coming year.

Yelena Romanova, head of international relations at the Cinema Fund, said the number and quality of projects pitched for support had sharply increased since funding was launched last year.

Plans for increasing the international reach of Russian films include promoting completion bond schemes through L.A.’s Hive Studios, which will represent the Cinema Fund in Hollywood.

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