While international audiences have gotten used to Russian auteurs on red carpets from the Croisette to the Dolby Theatre, where directors such as Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan,” “Loveless”) and Kantemir Balagov (“Beanpole”) have scooped up prestigious awards and Oscar nods, more and more Russian filmmakers are focused on making a splash in the global market.
Buoyed by high-octane actioners and genre titles with slick special effects, international sales for Russian films have been rising roughly 20% per year, according to film promotion body Roskino. During the Cannes virtual market, many foreign buyers may be tempted to give the country’s commercial fare a second look. “It’s the perception that needs to change,” says Central Partnership CEO Vadim Vereshchagin. “Our productions are at the same level as the European productions right now.”
Central Partnership has a strong Cannes slate that includes “Chernobyl,” a big-budget actioner about the aftermath of the nuclear power plant meltdown, directed by heartthrob actor and debut helmer Danila Kozlovsky and produced by Academy Award nominees Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergey Melkumov (“Loveless,” “Leviathan”). Also anticipated is Mikhail Lockshin’s “Silver Skates,” a romantic drama set in 19th-century St. Petersburg that charts the star-crossed relationship between a baker’s delivery boy and the daughter of an aristocratic family.
Art Pictures Distribution will look to close more territories on the sci-fi actioner “Sputnik,” Egor Abramenko’s directorial debut, which was selected for Tribeca and acquired by IFC Midnight for U.S. theatrical release. Art Pictures founder Fedor Bondarchuk will also present “Psycho,” a psychological drama that marks his first foray into TV series, and “Bondarchuk,” a documentary portrait about the director’s Academy Award-winning father.
Planeta Inform has racked up a string of international success stories with genre hits such as superhero actioner “Guardians,” which sold to more than 100 countries. In Cannes the distribution powerhouse will be presenting “The Ex,” a new horror film from the producers of the smash hit “The Bride.” Slated for a Valentine’s Day 2021 release, Planeta Inform’s Anastasia Bankovskaya describes it as “a perfect fit for those who are fed up with sweet comedies … and all that romantic stuff.” For buyers looking for laughs, All Media will present “Hotel Belgrade,” a comedy about a womanizing entertainer who gets mixed up with the mob, featuring Serbian star Milos Bikovich.
Producer-director Timur Bekmambetov’s Moscow-based Bazelevs will be presenting his new feature, “V2. Escape From Hell,” which will be released in both horizontal and vertical formats, for theaters and for smart phones. The company is also developing multiple new projects in the Screenlife format, including “Resurrected,” an English-language thriller from “Gogol” trilogy director Egor Baranov.
For buyers of more auteur-driven cinema, Charades will be presenting “Petrov’s Flu,” the latest feature from Kirill Serebrennikov (“Leto”), currently in post-production, while Memento will be selling Vadim Perelman’s Berlin player “Persian Lessons.”
“Historically, [Russia] has always had a reputation of being home to directors with a powerful vision, and we have every reason to be optimistic about the current and the upcoming generations of talent,” says Hype Film’s Ilya Stewart, who’s producing both films.