With 2014 marking the U.K.-Russia Year of Culture, ROSKINO, the government-funded organization for the promotion of Russian cinema worldwide, has announced Sunday in Berlin that it is opening an office in London, ROSKINO-UK.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the British Council announced that U.K.-Russia Year of Culture will see the biggest ever showcase of Russian culture in the U.K., and U.K. cultural projects taking place across Russia. The aim is to foster cultural exchange and collaboration between people, institutions and governments.
Leading the initiative for Russian cinema in the U.K., ROSKINO-UK will be looking to create new opportunities across a whole range of film activity, including ways for Russian and British filmmakers to work together through co-production; activities and partnerships to promote classic Russian films as well as contemporary hits, and at U.K. film festivals and markets; new ways to distribute Russian films in the U.K.; and promoting British filmmakers in Russia. Using its experience of promoting Russian leading digital content on U.S. VOD platforms, ROSKINO-UK will be looking to expand the presence of Russian films on U.K. VOD platforms.
The organization is also planning to run industry focused events, and to develop a program of collaboration between Russian and U.K. film schools.
2014 is also a special year for ROSKINO, which celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding organization, Sovexportfilm, which over the years built up an international network of 54 offices.
The British bureau of Sovexportfilm, located in London until early 1990s, used to own its own cinema, which hosted film festivals and Soviet cinema weeks, international premieres, including Andrei Tarkovsky’s cult classic “Solaris,” and programs run with U.K. universities. It is a legacy that ROSKINO-UK will rekindle.
ROSKINO has been actively promoting Russian cinema in the U.K. over the past two years as a partner of the BFI London Film Festival, supporting the screening of eight new Russian films, and raising interest in Russian cinema among film fans and industry professionals.
ROSKINO-UK will be headed up by Anna Ryasik, director of international festivals and markets for ROSKINO, and appointed curator of the U.K. office. Ryasik moved to London last year to start preparing for the program.
Ryasik said: “In opening an office in London, ROSKINO will be able to expand its activities in the U.K. and Europe. Companies from around the world are opening offices in London, which is seen as the European capital of business and enterprise. This is an important and exciting next step in ROSKINO’s international strategy for the industry.”
Katya Mtsitouridze, CEO for ROSKINO, said: “Opening our first international office in Los Angeles two years ago marked a gear-change for ROSKINO in generating visibility for Russian cinema, but in addition it has helped us to facilitate links in the U.S. for Russian films and filmmakers, showcase new Russian films and enter a hugely important commercial partnership with the largest VOD platform in the U.S., Hulu. The U.K. is home to a vibrant industry, but also acts as a magnet for international filmmakers and the arts as a whole, which is creatively and commercially exciting for Russian film and television.”
The industry launch for ROSKINO-UK will take place in Berlin during the European Film Market. Details for attending the launch are available at the Russian stand in the Marriott from Feb. 9.
ROSKINO is attending its third European Film Market in Berlin, promoting new co-production projects and filmmakers, the travelling film market DOORS’ slate of 27 Russian films, many of which are prize winners, Russian distribution and sales companies, and filmmakers.
Berlin will premiere the animated short film “My Own Personal Moose,” directed by Leonid Shmelkov and produced by Arsen Gottlieb’s MetronomeFilms, vying for the debut filmmaker prize in Berlin’s Generation Kplus festival selection.
ROSKINO is also presenting “The Hope Factory,” which screened last week in competition at the 43rd Rotterdam Film Festival. The film, which marks the directorial debut of Natalia Meschaninova, who co-wrote the script with Lyubov Mulmenko and Ivan Ugarov, was crowd-funded and produced by the LOOK producer partnership of Elena Stepanischeva, Zaur Bolotaev, Alexander Plotnikov, Peter Gudkov and Eugene Semin.
Mtsitouridze said, “Since Berlin last year when Boris Khlebnikov’s ‘Long and Happy Life’ screened in competition, we are proud to have supported two films screened at Cannes, two at Toronto and a special Russian cinema showcase at the AFM.
“We are thrilled to be bringing new films to Berlin, including the short film ‘My Own Personal Moose,’ a wonderful film about a little boy Misha, whose dream is to meet a real moose, which is screening in the Generation Kplus Short Films selection, and ‘The Hope Factory,’ which was well received at Rotterdam last week.”
“The Hope Factory” follows the lives of a bunch of young people, their dreams, loves and hopes, and ambition to leave their home town. It garnered positive reviews at Rotterdam, initiating interest from international buyers, who ROSKINO will be negotiating with at Berlin.