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Yatsura crossing borders

Local fare rules Russian B.O.

CANNES — Russian box office has been dominated by locally produced hits including “Daywatch,” “Turkish Gambit” and the post-Soviet war epic “9th Company.”

Given the size of the market and its continuing growth, Russian producers have the luxury of not having to sell their films abroad. International continues to be an upside.

However, “9th Company” producer Yelena Yatsura believes it’s time for Russian filmmakers to think beyond the borders of the former Soviet empire.

“Russia is one of the biggest markets in the world. In terms of sales and distribution it’s almost the same as the U.S. Due to our history we’ve been very inward looking, but nowadays with a new generation of directors emerging, Russian cinema also has potential abroad,” said Yatsura, who recently left Slovo Prods., which she ran with Sergei Melkumov, and is now an independent producer with her own shingle, 000 Filmocon.

She has come to Cannes with a slate of Russian-language pics she believes have international potential and for which she hopes to find international partners.

Yatsura’s next project “Belyaev” is a supernatural thriller about the murders of marine scientists and is already financed through Russian money.

The budget is below $10 million (she won’t reveal exactly how much) but she added, “There’s still room for an international partner because we are always looking for an additional market place and an additional audience.”

“Belyaev” is directed by first-time helmer Igor Voloshin.

Yatsura, who’s among the top five Russian independent producers and the only femme in that league, is prepping a $3 million Russian-Swiss co-production with the working title “The Interpreter” about a Russian girl who translates for Russian prisoners in Swiss jails.

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