The American Film Market (AFM), one of the key industry events of the year, was held in Los Angeles during the first week of November. ROSKINO supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has been an official partner of the leading US film market for 8 years in a row.

This year’s lineup included over 7000 participants from 80 countries that presented over 2000 projects at various production stages. Deals for a total of $1 bln were closed during the market, covering projects at diverse completion phases.

The market program featured a thriving Location EXPO section that showcased over 100 film commissions and governmental agencies with special offers for international film crews. The Moscow Film Commission used the opportunity to reiterate the news of its main features for the American audience. The agency is aimed at supporting Russian and international film and TV productions in setting up filming in Moscow, streamlining all kinds of administrative, organizational, and operational affairs as well as permitting for restricted locations. The Moscow government takes charge of the red tape issues and offers assistance in obtaining filming permits for projects that shoot on location.

ROSKINO presented its high-profile initiative, the Moscow in Motion multimedia project aimed at promoting the Russian capital as a diverse and flexible filming destination. The project combines a series of 450 images of Moscow locations shot over the year by the renowned photographer Anton Lange, a location guide for international producers, the Moscow in Motion action short, and the Film Moscow AR smartphone app. International industry professionals commended the project and were extremely positive about Moscow’s chances of placing itself on the world location map. The ROSKINO team held over 90 meetings in Santa Monica and received dozens of requests for more details on filming regulations in Moscow. As a result, 17 productions currently developing projects of various scales contacted the Moscow Film Commission for co-production opportunities.

Katia Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO:

‘We have received many exciting proposals of co-productions with Russia. For instance, Dreams Beyond Entertainment LLC, a global Indian production company based in Mumbai with a branch in New York is currently developing Clowns, a family drama that is set for filming in Moscow in November, 2019. The team is currently scouting for locations and looking for English-speaking Russian actors. The ROSKINO team has been advising the project since Cannes. The producer Ashish Wagh is planning a visit to Moscow at the earliest possibility to set up production and finalize locations. He is willing to work with the Moscow Film Commission in that respect.

Ron Singerton, the author of the bestselling novel A Cherry Blossom in Winter, is currently discussing a co-production with Russian companies, counting on MFC support. At the moment the producers are adapting the book into a period drama about the Russo-Japanese war, to be filmed in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Japan late in 2019.

Jonathan Robert Adler, Head of Grey Eagle Films, and Warren Adler, the author of the bestselling The War of the Roses, contacted us about their Trans-Siberian Express project. The producers are looking for a Russian partner to undertake a joint adaptation and make a feature film, potentially with MFC support.

George Ferris, a Hollywood-based writer, is working on a project set during WWII that is supposed to be filmed in Moscow and St. Petersburg, among other places. It is a $50 mln project with principal photography scheduled to start by the end of 2019.

This is just a sample of the projects we found through our proactive advertising and campaigning at the AFM. Dozens of companies were interested in working with the MFC and finding Russian partners.’

The Moscow Film Commission was also featured at the Production Without Borders panel co-organized by Cloud 21 digital marketing and PR agency and Kultura PR International jointly with Roskino. The list of speakers included the founder of the International Film Trust Michael Benaroya, ROSKINO CEO Katya Mtsitouridze, the founder and CEO of Nantouselta Entertaiment Shari O’Donnell, the founding partner of Metan Global group Larry Namer, and Double 4 Studios President Andrei Zinca. The project was moderated by the British award-winning director Kate Rees Davies. The participants discussed some of the key issues of international film and TV co-productions and their future prospects.

Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO

‘We are having a hard time because of the sanctions, and yet co-productions are more than possible. We are working on three projects with China, there are some ideas in development with Poland and Kazakhstan. However in most cases they result from personal contacts rather than government initiatives. Tax rebates have yet to be introduced although some progress is being made in that respsect. For the moment ROSKINO as the international representative of the Russian film industry gets a lot of co-production requests that we redirect to national film companies with relative experience.’

Andrei Zinca, film producer, Double 4 Studios President (Romania):

‘It is high time to build bridges, and the film industry offers an excellent basis for that. I come from Romania, and we have spent 15 years setting up a system of tax rebates for international film productions. It was not an easy thing to achieve but the efforts are paying off. Now we get many crews coming to film in our country.’

Larry Namer, producer, Metan Global President & CEO (US)

‘We were the ones to bring Santa Barbara to Russia. We have also organized rock group tours and launched an entertainment TV channel, so all in all I have spent lots of time in Russia. And I must compliment Moscow on its newly established film commission. Frankly speaking, it was long due because it is quite hard for a foreigner to deal with filming regulations in Russia or for that matter in any other country with an unfamiliar legislation and administrative framework.’

Russian productions were showcased at the ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide umbrella stand that traditionally included All Media, Riki Group, Russian World Vision, Mirsand, Parovoz Studio, RFG Distribution, Film Collection, and other Russian production and distribution companies. The program featured a presentation of the updated DOORS traveling film market at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The new version lists over 40 national titles of 2016-2018.

ALL MEDIA showcased Saving Leningrad, a war drama by Aleksey Kozlov based on the true story of the barge 752 that had capsized on Lake Ladoga during the siege of Leningrad. Negotiations went on about The Conquest of Siberia, Igor Zaytsev’s epic tale of the conquest of Siberia, and Super Family: Better Than Avengers, the second instalment of Dmitry Dyachenko’s comedy franchise.

Zhanna Shakhshaeva, All Media Head of international Department:

‘Our main AFM highlights included Saving Leningrad, a wartime action, the wartime drama Sobibor, and Superfamily-2, a family comedy. The first and the last title are currently negotiated with the UK, Spain, Germany, Korea, and China. We have already closed the deals on The Conquest of Siberia with Spain, Germany, and the former Yugoslavian countries. As for Sobibor, all rights for the US have been acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films. We have also got a distributor in Latin America’.

The Riki Group lineup included several feature animations: My Toy Panda by Denis Chernov, My Friend Finnick by Denis Chernov, and Super Tina by Andrey Bakhurin.

Diana Yurinova, VP International development, Riki Group

‘We are very happy with this year’s market outcomes. Both our new projects attracted distributors and buyers from different countries and got good reviews. Our meetings resulted in preliminary agreements and we are going to close deals for Middle East and the former Yugoslavia on My Friend Finnick. My Toy Panda appealed to US, Indian, German, Vietnamese, and Latin American companies. Deals for Middle East, the former Yugoslavia, France and the Baltic countries will be signed shortly.’

Russian World Vision used the AFM as an opportunity to present The House Elf, a family fantasy by Evgeny Bedarev, and two horror features currently in production, The Forest by Evgeny Puzyrevsky, and The Locked Door by Arseny Syukhin as well as some other new titles. Sales went on for Tankers by Konstantin Maximov, Break by Tigran Saakyan, Temporary Difficulties by Mikhail Raskhodnikov, The First and All or Nothing by Dmitry Suvorov, and a number of other titles.

Ekaterina Levitan, RWV Head of International Department

‘Our new fantasy project attracted buyers from all over the world. For instance, we had an offer from German-speaking territories and are now finalizing the deal. For the two horror features currently in pre-production, The Forest and The Locked Door, we are considering an offer of theatrical distribution in Vietnam. The distributors of that country are also interested in Break. Chinese distributors are discussing Seven Dinners by Kirill Pletnyov, All or Nothing, Mikhail Raskhodnikov’s new project under the working title of The Big Deal, and Antonina Ruzhe’s comedy Follow Your Dream. These titles have also attracted the buyers working with international airlines. We are also negotiating the deal with a Chinese distributor for Temporary Difficulties, and rights are going to be sold to international airlines as well. Moreover, rights for Break and Tankers are still on the table for countries that are as yet uncovered.’

Mirsand Ltd distributions showcased Timur Bekmambetov’s Profile, an online terrorist thriller, winner of the audience award at the Panorama section of Berlinale-2018.

Parovoz Studio announced a 6 min educational animation project, Boo the Cat and the Good Boy by Roman Vereschak as well as Koshchey. The True Story, a family adventure by Andrey Kolpin scheduled for release in 2020.

Marie Llida, Parovoz Studio International Projects producer

‘Parovoz Studio presented two new projects: Koshchey. The True Story, a feature animation, and an animated series under the title of Boo the Cat and the Good Boy. Both projects have been well received by AFM participants. We have discussed potential cooperation with digital platform content aggregators and other perspective partners. We have also had a new round of negotiations with our Latin American partners to work on a co-production aimed at Spanish-speaking territories.’

Film Collection showcased Pain Threshold, a thriller by Andrey Simonov narrating the story of a group of young people that fight for their dear life against the striking settings of Altai Mountains. The film generated a lot of interest at the AFM, and negotiations with several international buyers were opened as a follow-up of the market.

The AFM lineup of RFG Distribution featured Never Say Goodbye by Pavel Drozdov, Witnesses by Konstantin Fam, Escape to Greece by Stas Ivanov, The Last Trial by Alexey A. Petrukhin, and The Lost Reflection by Elena Zhigaeva.

Marina Mnatsakyan, RFG Distribution Head of Sales:

‘The AFM was an intense and exciting time for us. Apart from negotiating the distribution of our own projects, we decided to acquire a number of titles to diversify our content portfolio, and next year we are going to start a co-production with Poland and India. We’ve got big plans, and our team is set on their implementation. As for the market follow-ups, a series of deals are currently being finalized.’