Alexander Rodnyansky, who produced Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Oscar-nominated pics “Leviathan” and “Loveless,” says that the Russian films best able to travel tend to be “serious dramas,” such as the works of Zvyagintsev and Alexander Sokurov, whose stories “at their core examine the complexity of human existence.”
Rodnyansky is working with three up-and-coming filmmakers whom, he says, demonstrate “absolute freedom” of expression: Kantemir Balagov, whose “Beanpole” won two prizes at Cannes last year; Kira Kovalenko, whose “Unclenching the Fists” is in post; and Vladimir Bitokov, whose “Mother, I Am Home” has been put on pause due to the pandemic.
“Their perception of the world is much more nuanced and complex than that of an older generation,” he says. “They do not compromise their vision, and in their brutal and complex films they speak the truth as they see it to people of their generation,” he says.
“The good news is that the recent changes in the industry’s management, so to speak — specifically in the ministry of culture and the various ecosystems surrounding it — are a great thing for the local industry overall. Some of the top positions have been taken by forward-thinking and very progressive professionals, seemingly with the best intentions for the industry going forward.”
Evgenia Markova, head of Russian film promotion agency Roskino, is also optimistic, saying international sales of Russian content have been rising by up to 25% a year. Roskino is in talks with the government about upping support for exports, which, coupled with an incentive for production, will boost the local industry further. This week, Roskino is holding an online market, Key Buyers Event, allowing Russian companies to present their projects to international buyers.
Alexandra Modestova, CEO of Expocontent, says mainstream Russian filmmakers harbor strong international ambitions, which pushes them to focus on “compelling stories,” high production values, such as Fedor Bodnarchik’s sci-fi thriller “Invasion,” and strong writing, such as local hit comedy “Son of a Rich,” backed by a wealth of acting talent.
In the arthouse arena, Modestova lauds the younger generation of Russian filmmakers who “reflect boldly on social problems, relationships, people’s choices,” in films that deliver “honest and universally relatable stories.”