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Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 Million Film Fund Launches

CANNES  —  Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s $100 million private film fund Kinoprime is ready for business, the fund’s CEO, Anton Malyshev, said in Cannes this week.

Financed to the tune of $100 million over the next three years, the fund can provide up to 50% of a film’s production budget, with a $2 million cap per project. Its first investment, “Fairy,” the new feature from Berlinale prize winner Anna Melikyan (“Mars”), is currently in post-production and will be released in Russia later this year.

The former managing director of the Russian State Film Fund, Malyshev said Kinoprime would meet a need currently unaddressed by the state funding mechanism. “The Russian cinema fund has just one aim: to make Russian films more box office in Russia. It’s about blockbusters,” said Malyshev. “We need quality movies—not only blockbusters. Very good art projects are good for us.”

He added that for an industry still largely bolstered by support from the Ministry of Culture, an applicant that arrived at Kinoprime with state funding secured would be “good for investment, because it’s low risk.”

The Croisette served as a fitting backdrop for Malyshev’s comments this week, with director Kantemir Balagov returning to Cannes with “Beanpole,” the follow-up to his Fipresci prize-winning “Closeness,” and writer-director Larisa Sadilova appearing with “Once in Trubchevsk.” Both films are screening in Un Certain Regard.

Malyshev said Kinoprime would cast a wide net for films to be considered by its 10-person selection committee, including projects from festival regulars, commercial directors, or up-and-coming prospects. “Kirill Serebrennikov has talent. And maybe a young prospective director has talent, too. Or maybe it’s Fedor Bondarchuk. He’s a star in Russia, and maybe an international star,” he said.

Malyshev added that the fund would also consider international projects, provided they had a “Russian flavor,” such as director or topline talent.

For its first year, Kinoprime is likely to invest in 10-15 projects, said Malyshev, although he expects that number to soon grow. The fund’s potential has hardly been scratched. “A hundred million dollars for three years is not so much. It’s like a boutique,” he said. “We are good now for a start.”

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