In the weeks following the inaugural edition of the Key Buyers Event, a showcase for new Russian productions held in Moscow last fall, Roskino CEO Evgenia Markova reached out to scores of international guests who had made the trip to the Russian capital. After what was largely perceived as a successful event, in which dozens of Russian titles sold to foreign buyers, Markova wanted to understand what else the film promotion body could do to support the continued growth of the Russian industry.
One piece of advice stood out. “Not many Russian names are known abroad,” says Markova. The consensus among many of the buyers in attendance was that “this is definitely what [Roskino] should work on: you should promote your actors, your producers, your directors. You should show the world you exist.”
For the Key Buyers Event: Digital Edition, an online platform to showcase and promote Russian content that takes place from June 8-15, Roskino selected 12 rising Russian actors and directors it believes will become household names soon. Here are the talents that foreign audiences should start getting used to:
Launching her career at the age of 16, Chipovskaya became a nationwide sensation after starring in “Spy,” a hit actioner by directors Danila Kozlovsky and Fedor Bondarchuk, and the TV drama “The Thaw,” from director Valery Todorovsky. She has appeared in more than 30 films and series and became recognized internationally for her performance in “The Road to Calvary,” the screen adaptation of the classic novel by Alexei Tolstoy. This year Chipovskaya stars in the series “The Last Minister,” directed by Roman Volobuev, and “Psycho,” the first series by Fedor Bondarchuk. She is the official ambassador of the Key Buyers Event: Digital Edition.
A rising actress known nationally for her numerous comedic and dramatic roles, Aksenova starred in the hit zombie series “The Day After” and featured in three seasons of “Silver Spoon,” the first Russian series acquired by Netflix. Her recent work includes roles in the feature film “Coma,” the series “Cleaned Up,” and season two of “Russian Affairs.” This year she stars in Konstantin Bogomolov’s “Games People Play,” a series about love and relationships on lockdown.
The prolific actress has appeared in more than 30 Russian feature films, including the upcoming sci-fi thriller “Sputnik,” by Egor Abramenko, which is set for a summer theatrical release in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Akinshina is also featured in Petr Todorovsky’s new drama “Six Empty Seats” and will star in Danila Kozlovsky’s “Chernobyl,” a big-budget drama about the aftermath of the explosion at the nuclear power plant.
Gorbacheva is one Russia’s most sought-after actresses, known for her comedic talent and comic sketches on Instagram, where she has more than 1.7 million followers. She was recognized for her dramatic performance after a breakthrough role in Boris Khlebnikov’s “Arrhythmia,” for which she was honored with the Russian equivalents of an Oscar and a Golden Globe. She starred in Danila Kozlovsky’s “Coach” and a number of highly regarded comedies while developing her own project, “Masha from Russia,” a series about two Russian sisters who move to Hollywood. This year Gorbacheva will star in the series “Chicks,” and in the feature films “Fire” and “Feedback” by Alexey Nuzhny.
After a winning performance in Valery Todorovsky’s “The Thaw,” Isakova starred in the Russian adaptation of “Homeland” and Kirill Serebrennikov’s “Student.” Known for her versatility, she has performed classical roles in the likes of “Anna Karenina” and the historical drama “The Lenin Factor” while also featuring in contemporary stories like last year’s thriller “The Outbreak.” This year Isakova stars in the highly anticipated espionage drama series “Hope,” and “One Breath,” a drama by Elena Khazanova. She will also have a part in “The Three,” by Anna Melikyan.
Borisov held down a series of minor but promising roles before starring in the TV series “Young Guard,” an adaptation of the classic novel by Alexander Fadeyev, which brought him nationwide fame. He later appeared in a string of blockbusters, including “T-34,” “The Blackout,” “Red Ghost,” and “Invasion.” In 2018 he starred in the Karlovy Vary selection “Crystal Swan,” by Darya Zhuk, with a breakout performance coming shortly thereafter with the lead role in Boris Akopov’s “The Bull,” which was awarded at Russia’s Kinotavr film festival and was also selected for Karlovy Vary. His next major role comes in “AK-47,” by Konstantin Buslov, while he continues to appear on screen in films such as “The Fairy,” by Anna Melikyan, and the upcoming “Silver Skates,” by Mikhail Lockshin.
The fast-rising actor is known for his minor roles in films such as “Why Don’t You Just Die?,” the debut comedy thriller by Kirill Sokolov, and “Leto,” the Cannes player from Kirill Serebrennikov. He also played the lead role in “ACID,” directed by Alexander Gorchilin. Kuznetsov has also made a name for himself with his small-screen performances in the Netflix original “Better Than Us” and the series “Russian Affairs,” and is slated to appear in two upcoming international series. He stars alongside Louis Garrel and Camille Cottin in the French feature film “Mon Légionnaire” (Our Men), directed by Rachel Lang. His next leading role is in the epic fantasy “The Heart of Parma,” by Anton Megerdichev.
The son of the internationally acclaimed actor and theater director Oleg, Tabakov debuted in the period drama “Ekaterina” and appeared in the films “The Star,” by Anna Melikyan, and Aleksei Misgiryov’s “Duelist.” Among his most recent works are “Conquest of Siberia,” by Igor Zaitsev, and “Dead Lake,” the Slavic noir series by Roman Prygunov. His upcoming projects include Prygunov’s “Happy End,” Oksana Karas’s “Doctor Liza,” and “Six Empty Seats,” by Petr Todorovsky.
Kozlovsky is a popular Russian film and stage actor known for his performances in History’s “Vikings” and AMC’s “McMafia.” His feature directorial debut came in 2018 with “Coach,” and he follows that this year with “Chernobyl,” the first major Russian feature about the aftermath of the nuclear station catastrophe, in which he also co-stars with Oksana Akinshina and Philipp Avdeev. The film is produced by Oscar nominees Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergei Melkumov (“Loveless,” “Leviathan”) through their company Non-Stop Production, along with Kozlovsky’s DK Entertainment. Kozlovsky’s next feature as a director is the highly anticipated “Karamora,” set for release in 2021.
Five years ago, Baranov began his directorial career at the helm of several episodes of the series “Fartza” and the feature film “Locust.” His best-known work is the fantasy-horror “Gogol” trilogy, the first Russian series created for both theatrical and TV release. The three films were all hugely successful at the box office. Baranov’s most recent work is “The Blackout,” a thriller centering around a small area in Eastern Europe that survives while life on Earth is being rapidly destroyed. He’s also working on the thriller “Resurrected.”
As a student, Melikyan made short films that received awards at more than 40 international film festivals and were acquired by the cinema museums in Rome and Melbourne. Since 2005 she has been managing her own film company, Magnum. Her second feature film, “The Mermaid,” was awarded in Sundance and Berlin. Melikyan’s latest project is “The Fairy,” about the creator of virtual reality games who’s convinced that in reality everyone and everything is controlled, until a chance meeting with a young activist makes him realize that the world is more complicated than it seems. She’s also working on “The Three,” the story of a love triangle told from the perspective of each participant.
Pictured, l. to r.: Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Danila Kozlovsky, Anya Chipovskaya