OUTCOMES OF THE 69th BERLINALE AND EFM FOR THE RUSSIAN FILMMAKERS
The 69thedition of the Berlin International Film Festival and the European Film Market unfolded from February 7 to 17, 2019. Roskino supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation brought new Russian productions to the ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worlwide umbrella stand in partnership with the Russian Export Center and its Made in Russia brand.
Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
‘’This year’s edition of the Berlinale was most fruitful for Russia both in terms of the festival program and the market results. The first films of two gifted directors, Alexander Gorchilin and Alexander Zolotukhin, were welcomed by the industry professionals. The reaction of the audience was of particular relevance to us because ROSKINO promoted both titles and supported the festival participation financially. We are also happy with the outcomes of the ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand that this time enjoyed the support of the Russian Export Center and its Made in Russia brand. The daily visitor traffic reached 600 people per day. Russian content attracted both regular partners and new buyers engaged through promotional materials distributed throughout the market. It has been our 8th time at the EFM, and the stability of our partnership allows us to work on special terms and get additional promo opportunities. Russian companies are are happy with their sales. The total estimate is nearly $2 mln. In some cases the volumes for a single territory are not so impressive but as soon as the number of territories covered reaches 10 or more, the returns grow significantly. Some films fail to pay off domestically, so international sales offer a chance to cover at least some part of the production costs. Global box-office success enjoyed by the hits of the calibre of T-34 or Three seconds is a rare phenomenon. In any case, we are thrilled with the beginning of our cooperation with the Russian Export Center and satisfied with the outcomes of the special industry event we co-organized. Amid the political tensions and sanctions Russia deserves to be well represented internationally. Our work during the global film and TV content markets is a manifestation of the proverbial soft power”.
Vera Podguzova, REC Director for External Communications:
‘During the past decade, from 2008 to 2018, the global annual turnover of creative industries and services has more than doubled. Culture and creative industries are key drivers of advanced and developing economies, and they are among the fastest growing global sectors as well. In 2017 the Russian Export Center launched an awareness-raising campaign to promote the audio and video content production industry, including animation, TV, and film studios.
The Russian Export Center has supported the presentation of several new projects, notably the premiere of Trotsky mini-series co-produced by Channel One and Sreda Productions as well as the Heroes of Envell animated series by 0+ Media. There are support options both for market leaders such as Art Pictures and Central Partnership, and upcoming ventures.
The government institutions should contribute to the export potential of the national creative industries. Therefore, the REC-ROSKINO partnership is a new and completely logical step towards the promotion and support of the national industry. We are very excited to join forces with a company that has an experience of over a century of national film promotion.’’
The festival line-up featured two first films from Russia. Acid, the directorial debut of Alexander Gorchilin, one of the stars of the Moscow Gogol Center theatre, was successfully screened in the Panorama section to a complete sold out. The reflection on today’s youth produced by Studio Slon attracted buyers from Germany, Japan, Poland, Greece, and the Baltic states.
Sabina Eremeeva, Acid producer:
‘We have a good feeling about the Berlinale. All the screenings were fully sold out and the audience responded very well. The Q&A sessions showed that people were relating to the film and the problems Acid touched upon were relevant for the European public, however different they may seem from us. As producer I attached a lot of importance to the screening of the international trailer during the special ROSKINO-REC event and the overall market program. The promotional efforts of Katya Mtsitouridze added up to the campaign organized by WIDE Management, the agency responsible for our global sales. All in all, the film was hard to miss. We have already sold the rights for Japan, Germany, Poland, Greece, and the Baltic countries. Some of the deals are still being negotiated. But I am sure this is just the beginning, and a long round of festivals and theatrical releases lie ahead. As for Alexander Gorchilin, the director, he has been invited to join the European FIlm Academy after his very first film which is already an achievement’.
The world premiere of the other first film, A Russian Youth by Alexander Zolotukhin, a student of Alexander Sokurov, took place in the Forum section to a general acclaim. A Russian Youth is a Lenfilm Studio production endorsed by Sokurov’s non-commercial fund Example of Intonation. Zolotukhin’s story explores some of the little-known facts about WWI.
Alexander Zolotukhin, A Russian Youth director
‘On the one hand, the film looks at the ways the national character works in the dramatic circumstances of a certain period. The events of the WWI that started off the series of disasters of the 20th century in Russia and the rest of Europe are an exciting background for the exploration of individual characters of that time. That generation had to face many hardships for 30 years in a row. They were fighting and suffering for most of their life, ever since they grew up. The idea was to see what they were like, to watch their personalities, to see how patient, kind, and sympathetic they were. On the other hand we focuses on the war as it was and the behaviour it provoked in people. But we intentionally avoided mentioning individual cities or battles in order not to lead the attention of the audience astray.’;
Eduard Pichugin, Lenfilm CEO
‘’They say producers should get additional hazard allowances for working with first films. In a way it is true because aspiring directors put very big stakes on their debut: they have to make a statement and a name for themselves. So they try very hard. Alexander Zolotukhin’s master Alexander Sokurov was present on the set almost daily. He contributed a lot and came up with many suggestions but he never offered ready-made solutions, just the wise guidance of a genuine mentor. This is the reason why he set up the ‘Example of Intonation’ foundation in the first place. Lenfilm studios often work with this organization. We enjoy offering our sets and equipment for the first films of young talented directors, student of the great master Alexander Sokurov.’’
ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand
Over 25 Russian companies showcased their portfolios ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand at the EFM, notably Central Partnership, Wizart Animation, Art Pictures Studio, Mosfilm Studios, All Media Company, Mars Media, Mirsand, Russian World Vision, Planeta Inform Group, Riki Group, Igmar, tvzavr, and a number of others. Over 40 new projects were presented at the market along with the updated version of the DOORS to Russian Cinema catalogue.
Central Partnership concentrated on two flagship projects. The first one was Baba Yaga: Terror of the Dark Forest by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy, a joint venture of Non-Stop Production by Alexander Rodnyansky and Sergey Melkumov, QS Films by Ivan Kapitonov and Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy whose portfolio includes several international box office hits of the calibre of The Mermaid. Lake of the Dead, Queen of Spades: the Dark Rite, and The Bride, and finally Central Partnership endorsed by the national Cinema Foundation. The second one was Billion by Roman Prygunov, a CP and RSS Production co-production slated for national release on April 18, 2019, to be simultaneously launched in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
Caterina Pshenitsyna, CP international sales director:
‘The European FIlm Market turned out very intense and productive for our company. On top of the wide international acclaim of Mermaid. Lake of the Dead, international buyers and distributors are still excited about our most recent title, Baba Yaga. Terror of the Dark Forest by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy. European buyers took a great interest to Billion, the action thriller by Roman Prygunov, especially when we demonstrated the very first promo materials. Information on the EFM deals will follow shortly.’
The All Media Company EFM lineup included the new war thriller Saving Leningrad by Alexey Kozlov, The Conquest of Siberia, Igor Zaytsev’s epic tale of the times of Peter the Great, and The Superfamily 2, a family comedy by Dmitry Dyachenko.
Zhanna Shakhshaeva, All Media Head of international Department:
‘Saving Leningrad has been bought by distributors from Korea, North America (both the US and Canada), the UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the UAE. In Germany the film is getting a theatrical release. As for The Conquest of Siberia, it will be released in Korea, Germany, ex Yugoslavia, the UAE, Cyprus, Canada, the US, and the UK. The Superfamily is sold to Germany, the UAE, and Cyprus. Chinese buyers loved the comedy so much they are going to make a localized adaptation. We are quite happy with the EFM results of this year. At the ROSKINO stand we have enjoyed and intensive program and held lots of meetings with our regular international partners that enquire after new content at every market.’
Art Pictures Studio focused on Attraction 2 by Fedor Bondarchuk, an Art Pictures Studio and Vodorod Pictures co-production that proved a very attractive title. Rights were sold to one of the major French TV holdings, AB Group, as well as the Italian distributor Blue Swan. Exciting offers have been made for Yegor Abramenko’s fantastic horror Sputnik, an Art Pictures Studio, Vodorod Pictures and Hype Film co-production that has recently wrapped principal photography in Moscow.
The Wizart Animation Berlinale slate was headlined by The Snow Queen: Mirrorlands, the fourth instalment of the topmost international box office hit in the records of Russian independent animation. The film has been produced by Yuri Moskvin, Vladimir Nikolaev, Boris Mashkovtsev, Pavel Stepanov, and Vadim Vereshchagin. Soyuzmultfilm studios, Central Partnership, and the Chinese HY Media also took part in the project. The Wizart portfolio also included Fantastic Return to Oz and Sheep and Wolves: Pig Deal.
Yuri Moskvin, Wizart managing producer:
‘Wizart Animation had a great time working at the ROSKINO-REC umbrella stand. We were also happy to introduce our global colleagues to our work in progress during the Russian content exporters showcase branded Made in Russia. Our recent releases, The Snow Queen: Mirrorlands and Pig Deal have found distributors in Israel, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand. The successful Chinese release last year has ensured the interest of Asian distributors. Our Snow Queen is to debut in Indonesia with the biggest distributor of the territory, CGV Indonesia, a branch of the Korean chain CJ CGV Co. We have already had a positive experience with their affiliate in Vietnam, Blue Lantern LLC. The previous instalment of the franchise, The Snow Queen 2, is getting a Japanese release in 2019. It has also been acquired by the Canadian theatrical distributor Cinemas Guzzo. We have had several series of negotiations with our Canadian colleagues because of the traditional difficulties our content is facing on that market. However, the North American release is enormously important to us and I hope it goes well. We have also screened Fantastic Return to Oz for the international buyers for the very first time. The previous instalment, Legends of Oz, had got theatrical releases in China, Korea, Latin America, Germany, the UK and a number of other countries. We are setting our hopes high for the new instalment as well.’
Mars Media focused on T-34, a WWII action thriller by Alexey Sidorov, one of the recent headliners of the national box office. The plot centers on the clash between two tank aces, the German Hauptmann Yager and the Junior Lieutenant Ivushkin who has managed to escape from Nazi captivity.
Mila Rozanova, International Sales and Co-Productions Manager, Mars Media
‘Same as last year, we shared the ROSKINO stand at the Gropius Bau. There was a steady flow of international buyers, both new and well known. We focused on the sales of T-34, finalizing deals with France, the US and Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Latin America. The remaining territories will be covered in the follow-up of the industrial screening in Berlin. For the rest, we are looking forward to Cannes where we are going to bring lots of new material.’
Mosfilm Studios showcased Decision: Liquidation, a recent true-story-based thriller by Alexander Aravin focusing on one of the most dramatic chapters of Russia’s recent history. The film follows the vicissitudes of an elaborate intelligence operation planned to destroy the guerilla leader Shamil Basayev. The script is based on the reports and records of some of the actual participants. Sales of Karen Shakhnazarov’s period drama Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story, a loose adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Vikenty Veresaev’s In The War, also carried on during the market.
Elena Orel, Mosfilm International Relations and Distributions Director:
‘Just as always, the ROSKINO stand excelled in organization. The space was well designed, the promo materials were everywhere, the team was super helpful and friendly. Getting things done in such an atmosphere is nice and easy. In the follow-up of the market we hope to close the deals for several remaining territories concerning both Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story and Decision: Liquidation. We have also received a number of offers that had to do with the recently restored golden classics, one more proof of the fact that the Mosfilm library has a timeless value.’
Planeta Inform Group showcased The Dawn, a new horror by Pavel Sidorov starring Oksana Akinshina. The latest production of the duo behind the international success of The Bride, Dmitry Litvinov and Vladislav Severtsev.
Anastasia Bankovskaya, Planeta Inform International Sales Director
‘We have a long tradition of participating in the EFM, and we enjoyed working at the ROSKINO/ Made in Russia stand. Our lineup was headlined by The Dawn, the second thriller by the box-office-winning team of Dmitry Litvinov and Vladislav Severtsev. The European market premiere produced excellent results. Buyers from Japan, Korea, China, South-East Asia, Germany, France, the UK and the US have confirmed their interest.
Among other titles, we have showcased the long-awaited actions, notably Robo and Coma slated for national release in the end of 2019. The 13-minute episode of Coma appealed to buyers from the US, Italy, France, Japan, and Central Europe”.
Riki Group is focusing on two feature animations by Denis Chernov, My Toy Panda, an action comedy slated for national release on October 27, 2019, and Our Friend Finnick, a family comedy. Both titles are being negotiated with French, German, Central European, Turkish, Central Asian, Chinese, and Korean companies.
Diana Yurinova, Riki Group VP for International Development:
‘We are witnessing a steadily increasing interest towards Russian content. Industry presentations attract a growing number of international producers and distributors interested both in releasing and co-producing our project, the companies working at the ROSKINO umbrella stand get a strong presentation, and the visitor numbers are also growing over the recent years. These positive trends are directly related to the increase in quality of the Russian animation and its international box-office success that attracts new industry partners. We see stable demand from European, Turkish, Israeli, Central Asian, Chinese, and Korean distributors.’
Russian World Vision proceeded with trading their family fantasy The House Elf by Evgeniy Bedarev, already sold to German-speaking territories. The film is slated for national release on April 11, 2019. Buyers from France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, China, the US, Canada, Latin America, and Turkey have shown substantial interest. The Russian-spoken version may get a release in Germany and other European countries. Pain Threshold by Andrey Simonov attracted buyers from China, Japan, South Korea, and Spain, as well as French- and German-speaking territories. RWV used the market to promote two projects currently in development, The Forest by Evgeny Puzyrevskiy and The Locked Door by Arseny Syukhin. Both titles have already been sold to Vietnam, and negotiations continue for the UK, Japan, South Korea, and Latin America. The RWV portfolio also includes also includes The Big Deal by Mikhail Raskhodnikov, Follow Your Dream by Antonina Ruzhe, All or Nothing by Dmitry Suvorov, and Temporary Difficulties by Mikhail Raskhodnikov, and Gasholder. Klubare, a criminal comedy by Ivan Kursky. Buyers from Eastern Europe and in-flight programmers were interested in all of the listed titles.
RWW carried on with the sales of Break, a thriller by Tigran Saakyan released in Russia on February 14, 2019. The German release is slated next, and rights have already been sold to China, South Korea, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Latin America, and Turkey. Konstantin Maximov’s war drama Insuperable has already been sold to Japan, South Korea, the UK, and Scandinavia, as well as German- and French-speaking territories. Negotiations are still going on about distribution in China, Poland, Slovakia, North America, and Latin America.
Mirsand Ltd focused mainly on its recent projects, notably Yolki: Six Degrees of Celebration, the final instalment of a successful franchise by Timur Bekmambetov, Yegor Baranov, Anna Parmas, and Alexander Kott, as well as Dragon,a fantasy by Indar Dgendunbaev, and The Spacewalker by Dmitry Kiselyov.
Valeria Dobrolyubova, Mirsand Ltd Chief Operating Officer:
‘The film market in Berlin is a gratifying event in terms of diversity of content offered by Russian participants. EFM is an opportunity to greet our regular partners, inform them about our new project, and look for new content to distribute. We have successfully pursued all of these directionsat the ROSKINO umbrella stand. Negotiations are going on concerning new projects while our regular portfolio is still attracting a steady interest of the international buyers and distributors. We are negotiating with the US and the Czech Repubic on The Spacewalker while Dragon generated a lot of interest in Latin America. Poland, the UK, Germany, Korea and France are among our partners.’
The flagship project by Igmar productions was the historical drama Cry of Silence by Vladimir Potapov, an adaptation of Tamara Tsinberg’s short novel The Seventh Symphony set in wartime Leningrad. Victoria Zhuranova who is responsible for international relations at Igmar acknowledged a keen interest of buyers from many countries. Negotiations are being carried on with several territories.
Tvzavr showcased MoviesChain, one of the first film platforms using blockchain-based technologies to connect independent filmmakers to their audiences. The company considers this resource a revolution in independent distribution that decentralizes and disintermediates the global distribution industry.
Olesya Teplova, tvzavr Vice President for Strategic Communications:
‘In the sensitive political and economic situation we are facing international platforms facilitating the distribution of both independent and mass market projects are of paramount importance. MoviesChain by tvzavr enjoys a unique position on the Russian market. The platform allows content producers to reach global audiences and curbs expenditure by eliminating the chain of intermediaries while offering the public a selection of previously inaccessible content. We have held over 100 meetings at the ROSKINO stand and signed over 40 contracts with companies from Canada, the US, the UK, France, India, Argentina and obviously Russia.’
The total sales estimate of the companies presented at the ROSKINO - Russian Cinema Worldwide stand exceeds $2 mln. New content has been sold to buyers from 45 countries around the world.
In order to promote the export potential of the national film industry Roskino and the Russian Export Center co-hosted a special industry conference within the Berlinale and the EFM framework. The Made in Russia program of February 9, 2019 featured three parts: a showcase of recent Russian projects, a panel discussion on the role of creative industries in internashional partnerships, and an evening reception.
The panel was moderated by ROSKINO CEO Katya Mtsitouridze and Christopher Vourlias, Variety’s market expert.
REC Director for External Communications Vera Podguzova, Planeta Inform Director General Dmitry Litvinov, tvzavr Head of Marketing and PR Olesya Teplova, director and producer Nadezhda Mikhalkova, producer Anna Kachko, and Wizart Executive Producer Vladimir Nikolaev contributed to the panel discussion and shared their views and experiences concerning international and intergovernmental partnerships in film industry, co-productions, their development and investment prospects.
The leading national content exporters showcased their key titles: Acid by Studio Slon, The Cursed Seat by VVP Alliance, Snow Queen: Mirrorlands by Wizart Animation, The Conquest of Siberia by All Media, T-34 by Mars Media, The Dawn by Planeta Inform Group, Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story by Mosfilm Studios, My Toy Panda by Riki Group, The House Elf by Russian World Vision, Cry of Silence by Igmar Productions, and finally Moscow in Motionby Roskino.
The event was attended by over 200 industry professionals from 17 countries. Power To The Pixel consultancy CEO Liz Rosenthal, Kino Lorber CEO and founder Richard Lorber, Head of German Films Simona Beaman, The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw, Head of the Russian trade delegation in Germany Viktor Ilskiy, former German Under Secretary of State for Europe, political relations and the UN Dr. Wolf-Ruthart Born, Daniil Bisslingher of the 3rd European Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, McKinsey & Company Partner Dr. Nico Raabe, and a number of other high-profile figures were among the special guests.
In total EFM-2019 welcomed over 9.000 visitors, including 1500 buyers, 480 stand holders, and many representatives of the global industry media.
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