OUTCOMES OF THE RUSSIAN PARTICIPATION AT THE AFM 2019
The anniversary 40th edition of the American Film Market (AFM), one of the most important industry events of the year and the biggest market in North America, took place in early November of 2019. For the 9th time this year Roskino endorsed by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation partnered with the AFM.
This year’s line-up featured over 7000 global industry professionals, including 375 registered exhibitors, including 77 new names from 22 countries. Combined they were representing thousands of films and projects in every stage of production.The US had the biggest presence with 160 companies, followed by the UK (31), France (26), Russia (19), South Korea (17), Germany (12), Italy (8), Romania (8), and Thailand (8).
AFM also hosted more than 400 screenings of 313 films from 114 exhibiting companies, including a record of 80 world premieres. In addition, more than 25 of the Academy Award entries submitted for consideration for the ‘Best International Film’ category were among the titles represented at this year’s market. The AFM industry program included a variety of conferences, panels, workshops and presentations covering every aspect of content creation from financing and production to post production, marketing, and distribution. AFM 2019 identified several main trends that are likely to be relevant for the global industry over the next few years, including an increase in streaming platforms and the launch of rebate systems in new territories around the globe.
On November 10, Roskino in association with the Producers Guild of America and Producers Without Borders held a conference on Producing in Russia: Navigating International Co-Productions from IP to Delivery.
The panel featured top industry professionals, including Steven Beer, legal counsel and managing partner of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo P.C. representing leading entertainment industry content providers, and Steven Adams, producer, President of Alta Global Media. The event was presented by Roskino CEO, TV1 anchor Katya Mtsitouridze and Co-Chair of the PGA International Committee, Producers Without Borders founder Kayvan Mashayekh.
The debate was dominated by the new decree on state subsidies for ‘cinema organizations providing services for international audio-visual content production on Russian territory’ that allows international partners to get back up to 30% or even 40% of production costs incurred in Russia. The panellists discussed the new film subsidy system in much detail, dwelling on co-production options from the perspective of the Russian version of rebates. The conversation touched upon several relevant issues such as the characteristic aspects of filming in Russia, the experience of international co-productions, and providing appealing content for global audiences, and many more aspects of globalization in film industry.
Kayvan Mashayekh, Co-Chair of the PGA International Committee, Producers Without Borders founder
‘Russia is pregnant with so many stories, from its history and its past, that a lot of people outside of Russia do not know about. It is a great way to build a bridge and connect to new audiences and find a way to work with Russian counterparts in finding stories to tell.
The rebate incentives are going to take time to implement and they're going to take time to actually find a way to become a reality for co-productions to actually flourish. People will start using them and finding a way to trust one another and to establish contacts and connections that turn out to be a real thing, then other companies can become more aware and other people may find out about it. The world's got enough politics as it is, and here the key thing is to try to concentrate on the human element of the story and connections. At the end of the day, it's just one word. And that word is trust. It is all about trust and working with partners you trust. When you do that, a lot of things flow naturally from that relationship. Roskino is a company that goes back for over 95 years. All this time it has been around, promoting Russian cinema around the world. And it has a very high profile due to the efforts of the new team. It is an ideal base to start creating an avenue of trust between the countries.'
Katya Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO
‘AFM is one of the biggest events of the global film industry, the culmination of the whole sales year. After the market companies are ready to sum up their annual results. The event is attended by all the key industry stakeholders. We had a series of meetings with the top management of several American companies to discuss possibilities of co-productions in Russia and witnessed a keen interest. At this point we must implement the rebate system in a way that would enable a consistent and sustainable process yielding good films. This is why it was especially important for Russia to be present at the market. We are happy to acknowledge that in spite of a complicated international situation and the level of political misunderstanding between our two countries, the reactions of our global colleagues at the AFM and especially our American hosts were unfailingly friendly, welcoming, and full of trust. This year’s edition showed a marked trend of growing interest in Russian productions presented at the Roskino – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand as well as those brought by individual content providers. Our special thanks go to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the United States in Moscow for assisting us with visas for all members of the Russian film delegation.'
Roskino – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand
The Roskino – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand at the Loews Santa Monica hotel brought together a number of regular Russian participants, including All Media Company, Planeta Inform Group, Mirsand Ltd. owned by Timur Bekmambetov, Mosfilm Studios, and other major national producers and distributors. The booth also showcased the updated version of DOORS international travelling film market featuring over 40 Russian projects of 2018/2019.
All Media Company displayed several recent projects, including The Hero, a secret service thriller directed by Karen Oganesyan that was subject to negotiations with buyers from France, Italy, and the US. Saving Leningrad by Aleksey Kozlov has been sold to China and Taiwan, and negotiations are going on with Italy. Many territories took an interest in Coupled by Timofey Zhalnin while The Conquest of Siberia by Igor Zaytsev was sold to the UK.
Zhanna Shakhshaeva, All Media Head of international Department:
‘We had over 40 meetings, mostly with representatives of key territories like France, Italy, America, Japan, Korea, Spain, and China. Many of the visitors reported on the shrinking capacity of the event. However, at the Roskino stand we had a very busy time. All buyers comment upon the high quality of the Russian content, including the projects in our portfolio. Our goal is to go on keeping the bar high.’
The Santa Monica slate of Planeta Inform Group featured Coma by Nikita Argunov, Robo by Sarik Andreasyan, The Lenin Factor by Vladimir Khotinenko, and the recent Kalashnikov biopic by Konstantin Buslov.
Anastasia Bankovskaya, Planeta Inform International Sales Director:
‘We have worked hard at the AFM, focusing on Coma, Robot, ând AK-47, aka Kalashnikov. As a result, Coma was sold to France and Italy, Robo found an Italian distributor, Kalashnikov was acquired by France and Japan, The Lenin Factor by Japan, Unforgiven by Latin America. We hope to follow up on these deals with a number of other agreements regarding our key titles in the coming weeks, and draw up a total balance at a later stage.'
Mirsand Ltd distributors showcased Fau by Dmitry Kiselev, a new Timur Bekmambetov project currently in production. The plot is based on the true story of a valiant Soviet pilot of WWII times who managed to escape Nazi captivity by hi-jacking an enemy plane and bringing along a top secret German weapon. The total AFM sales amounted to about $125 thousand.
Valeria Dobrolyubova, Mirsand Ltd. Head of Sales:
‘At the market we negotiated with all the key international territories regarding Fau, our new project slated for a 2020 release. Our Baltic and French partners are willing to sign an agreement on the basis of the available summary and the standing of our company known for its recent release of The Age of Pioneers. Our partners from Asia and Central Europe are looking forward to the first promo materials in order to complete the negotiations on Fau.’
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