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Film Base Berlin ramps up co-productions

Mathias Schwerbrock’s Film Base Berlin has boarded “The Two Women,” an adaptation of Ivan Turgenev’s 19th century Russian play (also known as “A Month in the Country”) starring Ralph Fiennes.

Co-produced by Moscow-based Horosho Production and directed by Vera Glagoleva, “The Two Women” is a comedy about the bored wife of a wealthy landowner who falls for a young tutor while brushing off the advances of a devoted admirer and family friend, played by Fiennes.

The film is set to shoot in Smolensk, Russia, in June 2013.

The Russian Cinema Fund, which is backing the production, will present the project at Cannes.

The pic is one of several productions in the works at Film Base Berlin, which co-produced Farhan Akhtar’s recent Bollywood hit “Don 2,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, which secured some $2.7 million from regional and federal funders in Germany.

Schwerbrock is focusing on international co-productions from key territories such as North America, Asia and Eastern Europe. His current lineup includes “The Same Eyes,” a reincarnation drama written and directed by Brit-Canadian Paul Black and co-produced by Patrick Cassavetti (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”). Set in Toronto and Berlin, the pic follows various people whose paths cross while searching for lost love and grappling with long forgotten memories.

Also in the works is Aleksei Uchitel’s psychological thriller “The Stockholm Syndrome,” a German-Russian co-production and one of the first films to secure backing from the recently launched German-Russian Co-Development Fund. Uchitel is co-producing the film, about a woman who falls in love with her kidnapper, via his St. Petersburg-based Rock Films.

Schwerbrock is likewise producing Vanessa Ly’s “Game Park,” the story of a French-Cambodian family torn apart by dark secrets stemming from the Cambodian Civil War.

While Schwerbrock is increasingly moving into producing his own films, he also operates as a line producer and continues to work in that capacity on a number of international projects, including “In Berlin,” a $9 million spy thriller by South Korean director Ryoo Seung-wan (“The Unjust”) about a North Korean agent on the run in the German capital.

While the producers of “In Berlin” — South Korea’s Filmmaker R&K and CJ Entertainment — are not tapping any German incentive coin, Schwerbrock said Asian producers are beginning to see the benefits of international partnerships.

Schwerbrock said the $80 million-a-year German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) has put Germany on the map as an international co-production hub.

“Everybody that is coming here is picking up money from the DFFF. The Americans, the French, Brazilians, they are all coming here looking for co-financing. We’re not only offering our production services but also money, funding, a German distributor. I think the Asians are realizing that more and more and are increasingly interested. It’s what the international and American markets came here for, it’s soft money, and it’s easy.”

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