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Berlin: Russian Biz Looks to Bond with International Industry

As Roskino, the government-backed organization that promotes Russian cinema around the world, celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, Katya Mtsitouridze, Roskino’s CEO, and Variety Russia’s Denis Ruzaev explain what the prospects are for international producers looking to work with Russian partners.

More and more Russian producers are looking to get involved in co-production, Mtsitouridze and Ruzaev agree. One of the most active is Georgy Malkov’s Enjoy Movies, whose Russia-U.S. pics include action-thriller “American Heist,” starring Hayden Christensen. Pic’s production partner is Glacier Films.

There is plenty of scope for more international co-production activity in Russia. Of the 167 Russian movies that were in production as of November, only 22 were co-productions.

However, international producers looking to co-produce in Russia should be realistic about the chances of accessing state funding, which is primarily focused on benefiting Russian films, Mtsitouridze and Ruzaev said. Projects that are submitted for funding can expect to be carefully scrutinized before they get the status of a “national movie,” which allows them to qualify for state funding.

Alexander Mindadze, whose Chernobyl-set drama “Innocent Saturday” preemed in Berlin’s main program, struggled to get Russian state funding for his Russian-German co-production set during WWII, “Sweet Hans, Dear Pyotr.” The Ministry of Culture was said to be unhappy with the screenplay’s approach to Russian history, but after a public outcry the film got some funding from the Russian Cinema Fund.

Production costs in Russia, and Moscow especially, are high, but if the budget is in place, and the foreign producer is basically needed to help just with production abroad and getting the international cast, then co-production with Russia can be lucrative, Mtsitouridze and Ruzaev say.

The Russian box office is steadily growing and for medium-scale projects if they are successful in Russia that on its own can be enough to deliver a return on investment.

Another plus point in Russia’s favor is its membership in co-production organization Eurimages. Since Russia joined Eurimages in 2011, co-production has become much more of a viable option for Russian producers. Russian projects to receive Eurimages funding recently have included Vera Glagoleva’s “Two Women” and Alexander Sokurov’s “ “Francofonia: The Louvre Under German Occupation.”

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