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Russia steps up support for co-productions

Gov't aims to attract foreign shoots, boost local film

Russia’s government-backed film fund is planning to increase support for co-productions in a bid to attract foreign industryites and increase its films’ international profile.

The Federal Fund for Social and Economic Support of the National Film Industry, set up last year to channel some $64 million of state money to filmmakers via eight production companies, is due to announce a budget for co-production support next month.

Industry sources say the figure could be in the region of $8 million a year, from the fund’s $95 million budget.

The money will be used to support as many as 10 co-productions a year and could help ease their path in a country many international producers regard as difficult.

Fund head Sergei Tolstikov, talking with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a Kremlin conference on cinema earlier this month, said, “We plan to support several co-productions with other countries with the main objective of upgrading the quality of films and promoting our cinema abroad. We will be in a position to have a hands-on discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of this new model and make a preliminary review of the results toward the end of this year.”

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To be eligible for funding, co-productions must be at least a director or producer’s third film and there should be some link to Russia, such as employing local crews, according to Elena Romanova, the fund’s head of international relations.

Support for co-productions is also now available via the ministry of culture, which spends an annual $25 million on cultural, arthouse, debut, documentary and animation projects.

Alexei Sokhnev, program director of Moscow Business Square, a co-production forum that takes place during the Moscow Film Festival, welcomed the increased support.

“There is a no way for Russian producers to diversify their sources of funding and increase distribution without co-productions,” Sokhnev, a former culture ministry official said.

Last year four co-productions won support from the culture ministry including director Alexander Mindadze’s Berlin competition player “Innocent Saturday,” about the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster, which also had post-production support from the fund.

Up to 18 co-productions will be presented at the Moscow Business Square in June, which will focus on films from Brazil, India, China, Russia and the former Soviet states.

The event is also hoping to repeat last year’s regionally focused European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs’ producer forum.

Producer Eugene Zykov, who co-founded the Russian Film Commission in 2009, is promoting Russia as a location for co-productions. He’s in Berlin for talks with producers about a number of projects, including a U.S./Canadian feature about St. Nicholas.

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