For those Russians looking to buy international material, Berlin is a key market.

Sam Klebanov, who runs Cinema Without Frontiers, one of Russia’s leading arthouse distributors, says in a market where Hollywood films dominate exhibition niche programming remains a challenge.

His lineup for this year includes Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s Oscar foreign-language nommed “No”; Roman Coppola’s “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III,” starring Charlie Sheen; and “A Late Quartet,” Yaron Zilberman’s opus on a classical music group’s disintegration.

In Berlin, he will be looking for arthouse projects, mostly at script stage, by known directors or those with crossover potential, like David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” which grossed $1.1 million in Russia and former Soviet republics last year.

“We’re always hoping to find a gem that others do not see the potential in,” Klebanov says.

For international buyers, more than 40 Russian films will be represented at this year’s EFM by the Russian Cinema Fund, which for the second-year running hosts the Cinema of Russia stand. This includes reps from nine key production companies.

Elena Romanova, head of the international department of the Russian Cinema Fund, says details of this year’s Red Square Screenings, a production platform event that includes the participation of the Cannes film market, will be announced Sunday in Berlin.

For Russian television buyers, the EFM and other major markets are becoming less important. Increasingly they are working with established local movie producers to create high-quality TV drama, rather than buying in foreign pics.

Vyacheslav Murugov, general director of CTC channel and chief content officer of CTC Media, Russia’s leading TV entertainment network, says while Hollywood films would remain a staple of television schedules, quality home-produced drama and other genres, both in series and made-for-television films, was a growth sector.

CTC, which last year had combined audience share of 15.7% for viewers aged 10-45 across its three key channels, CTC, femme-skewed daytime station Domashny and adult, male-oriented Perets, sources up to 30% of its filmed content through output deals with Paramount, Universal, Disney and Sony.

But with the growing sophistication of young television audiences in Russia, high-quality locally produced fare that includes adaptations of international formats and original Russia formats, drama, sci-fi and comedies, is increasingly important.

“We are following the Hollywood path; television is becoming an increasingly important platform for local production,” Murugov says.

New films and series this year on CTC channels include “Molodezhka,” a drama centered on a Russian hockey team, due to air just ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, “Posledniy iz magikiyan,” a cross-cultural marriage tale featuring an Armenian man, his Russian wife and their three daughters, and “80s,” a dramedy set in Moscow in the mid-1980s.

Berlin Daily Spotlight 2013: Russia
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