RUSSIAN STAND REPORT FROM AMERICAN FILM MARKET (AFM)
In early November, the city of Los Angeles (USA) hosted the 38th annual American Film Market (AFM) (Nov 1st–8th). For the seventh time in a row, ROSKINO was appointed the Market's official partner, with the generous support of the Russian Ministry of Culture and PJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines.
According to the data provided by the Market officials, this year's number of participants saw an 18% increase over 2016, with a noticeable uptick in the Asian professional presence. AFM'17 welcomed 13 new companies from South Korea; in addition, for the first time after a three-year break, participants from India were back at the Market.
This year's edition of AFM unveiled its pilot project Location Show, where over 60 international film commissions and state agencies from all over the world pitched their services to international film crews. The Moscow Film Commission was among them, marking its hugely successful North American debut. A series of business meetings resulted in over 30 official requests for detailed information regarding Moscow-based shoots and their regulations. As of now, several film studios both from Hollywood and Asia are negotiating their WWII-themed and fantasy projects, all to be potentially launched in Moscow. The Film Commission has received their requests for permits necessary to shoot on the city's historical locations.
Maksim Liksutov, Deputy Mayor (Moscow City Council), Head of the Moscow Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Development:
"We are so happy to have the opportunity to present, in partnership with ROSKINO, our Film Commission here in LA, at the world's largest film market. It is a well-known fact that the Moscow of today is a dynamic, vibrant global city, so we are certain that, with due regulatory process, we'll be able to host international film- and TV crews, on the one hand creating new jobs and strengthening Russian filmmakers' position through coproduction, and on the other hand shaping a positive image of Moscow in media and increasing its appeal as a tourist destination."
Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
"The Santa Monica film market traditionally closes out the fiscal year in the film business. This time around, even though some delegates couldn't get their visas on time and some studios had to amend their plans, the sales were, all false modesty aside, truly spectacular. The buyers were lining up around the block to our stand and other sellers of Russian content, with Asian sales companies and distributors leading the pack. The ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide stand, strategically located in the most prestigious zone of the market, is one of the few stands that have their own terraces, and yet it's no longer spacious enough to accommodate all the people. This is the direct result of our methodical and purposeful efforts to promote Russian content in the international arena. Seeing how successful our recent developments have been, we are going to petition the Ministry of Culture for additional funding. Despite the evident political tensions, our American colleagues treated Russian filmmakers in a perfectly amicable and friendly fashion. As it was presented at the Location Show, the Moscow Film Commission generated quite a lot of buzz, and we are currently reviewing several applications."
The ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide stand at the Loews Santa Monica hotel unveiled an updated version of the DOORS Mobile Film Market catalog featuring over 40 Russian projects made between 2016 and 2018 in a variety of genres.
As part of AFM, Art Pictures Studio presented to international buyers a series of new projects including the sci-fi "The Attraction" (dir. F. Bondarchuk), drama "Buy Me" (dir. V. Perelman), "Ice" (dir. O. Trofim), and comedy "Anyone But Them" (dir. A. Boikov).
Dmitry Rudovskiy, producer, co-owner of Art Pictures Studio:
""Ice" is now courted by distributors from Latin America, France, Italy, Spain, and Asia. The final cut that premiered for distribution companies made a great impression, and our partners have all pointed out the story's emotional impact and high production values."
Meanwhile, Central Partnership presented the key films in its catalogue, such as the epic blockbuster "Furious" (dir. D. Fayziev), action/adventure "The Frontier" (dir. D. Tiurin), animated "The Fixies: Top Secret" and "The Fixies 2," as well as the action/drama "Three seconds" (dir. A. Megerdichev).
Pavel Stepanov, Central Partnership CEO:
"This year's AFM has proven a tremendous success. First of all, the international premiere of "The Frontier" went over like gangbusters, and our partners were unanimous in their praise of the film's original plot and unusual fusion of genres. We closed a few Asian deals right after the screening. In other news, the buyers seemed pretty excited about "The Fixies," already a box-office sensation in Russia. And last but not least, I must note the lucrative sales of the epic blockbuster "Furious," which is already sold to over 80 countries worldwide. At AFM we closed a couple more territories, thus covering all Europe and most of Asia long before the opening weekend in Russia."
Timur Bekmambetov's Bazelevs Studio, represented at AFM by the Mirsand Ltd. distribution company, wooed buyers with its most recent item, "Yolki 6" (dir. Z. Kryzhovnikov), which comes out in Russia on Dec 21st 2017. The deal offered by the franchise's regular distributors in China is currently in talks.
Valeria Dobrolubova, Sales Director at Mirsand Ltd.
"The comedy "Yolki 6" has also found a home in the Baltic region with the GPI Company, which has distributed all the previous installments including last year's "Yolki 5." Our sales agent responsible for "The Spacewalker" has closed China, Taiwan, India, Scandinavia, and the UK. As of now, the company's projected revenue stands at over $500,000."
The «Riki» Group of Companies, integrated into the ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide stand, conducted over 20 business meetings with leading industry professionals including film studios, distributors, international sales agents, producers, development heads, and co-production specialists. Of particular interest to them was the third installment of the animated franchise "Kikoriki"––an adventure/comedy entitled "Kikoriki: Deja vu," as well as other features currently in pre-production.
Diana Yurinova, Global Development Deputy Director:
"The package presented by "Riki" at AFM included "My Domovoi," "A World of Children," "The Fire Giant," and "Town Musicians of Bremen." We also did three screenings of the new feature-length "Kikoriki: Deja Vu" (distributed by Odin's Eye Entertainment), and a screening of "The Fixies: Top Secret" (produced by Aeroplan Studios, a member of the "Riki" group of companies, and distributed by Central Parternship). The top managers of "Riki" had meetings with companies as prominent as Lionsgate, Auxmode, Shout Factory, and Dreamworks Animation Television. American industry professionals were duly impressed by the high quality of animation offered by "Riki": they thought it was up to today's world standards and therefore absolutely viable in the global marketplace."
Russian World Vision debuted its based-on-a-true-story war action "Tankers" (dir. K. Maksimov) slated for a wide release in Russia in February 2018. By the time AFM drew to a close, deals had been closed for Japan, South Korea, and French-speaking territories; China, the UK, and German-speaking countries are still in talks. The drama "Temporary Difficulties" (dir. M. Raskhodnikov), also based on a true story, has caught the eye of Chinese distributors, who are now negotiating the terms of its theatrical release. The thriller "Break" (dir. T. Saakyan), currently in post-production, also became a hot-ticket item at AFM: Japan has been closed whereas China, South Korea, and German-speaking territories are ironing out the details with RWV. The comedies "Kids For Rent" (dir. T. Kapitan) and "Make a Wish" (dir. E. Kravchenko) have also been approached by Chinese distributors in regard to non-theatrical rights.
Ekaterina Levitan, International Sales Director at Russian World Vision:
"AFM was a resounding success for our company. The sum total of the tentative deals negotiated over the course of about 100 meetings is almost $700,000. It is worth noting that some of our titles have elicited offers for all distribution rights including theatrical release. "Panfilov's 28," first unveiled at AFM a year ago, continues its terrific international run as we near the signing stage for Scandinavia and former Yugoslavia."
WIZART kept adding new territories to its projects' international exposure. "The Snow Queen 3" has been sold to China, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia; an agreement has been reached concerning a Spring-2018 theatrical release of "Sheep and Wolves" in Great Britain and Ireland. The total amount yielded by AFM deals exceeds $1,000,000.
Yuri Moskvin, WIZART General Producer:
"Wizart made a couple of important announcements at AFM. We were pleased to announce that Aleksei Tsitsilin, the perennial director of our thriving "Snow Queen" franchise, had been joined by Robert Lence––the acclaimed master of animation behind such classics as "Beauty and the Beast," "Shrek," "Toy Story," and "A Bug's Life." Lence is currently at work on the next installment, "The Snow Queen: Through the Looking Glass," traditionally scheduled for a holiday release in Russia in late 2018. Even though the project is still in its earliest stages and the studio couldn't play more than 10 minutes of footage, the franchise's loyal partners in all the key territories got on board immediately. AFM brought us deals with Turkey, Poland, and South Korea, the latter being a top-7 global market known for its fierce competition and demanding audiences. This country has proven, time and again, to be our most faithful "ally" in the global marketplace. We hope the interest in Gerda's adventures will keep growing steadily, and next year's release will be a triumph."
Planeta Inform interspersed familiar titles such as "The Coma" (dir. N. Argunov) and "The Scythian" (dir. R. Mosafir) with new additions: "Robo" (dir. S. Andreasyan), "The Envelope" (dir. V. Markov), "The Partner" (dir. A. Andryushchenko), and "The Unforgiven" (dir. S. Andreasyan).
Anastasia Bankovskaya, International Sales, Planeta Inform:
""The Coma" is quite a buzzy title currently in talks with European and Asian buyers. The screening of "The Scythian" was followed by offers from France, Italy, Great Britain, and North America. "Robo," the story of a boy's friendship with a robot "from the producers of "The Coma" and "Guardians"," is still in pre-production but it's already been warmly embraced by prospective buyers and received an offer from China, sight unseen. "The Envelope" has closed China and Vietnam, with Southeast Asia and Japan still in talks. "The Partner" received positive notices from our Asian clients, who complimented its "cute concept" and "high-quality CGI child." Offers have been pouring in from Korea, Japan, and Mexico. Based on raw footage only, Sarik Andreasyan's drama "The Unforgiven" starring Dmitry Nagiev got an offer from China, while negotiations with Germany, France, Taiwan, and Turkey are ongoing. "The Bride," already off to a terrific start in Brazil, has been approached by a Taiwanese buyer as well."
AFM in numbers:
· Eight productive, eventful days of business meetings;
· Over 7,000 attendees;
· 445 companies presented (18% more than in 2016);
· Over 130 speakers at conferences and business programs;
· 337 films (264 industry premieres and 61 international premieres).