RUSSIA AT THE 68TH BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL AND THE EUROPEAN FILM MARKET
The 68th Berlin International Film Festival and the European Film Market (EFM) will take place from the 15th to the 25th of February 2018. For the seventh year running, ROSKINO, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Culture, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Moscow Government will be presenting Russian films at the ROSKINO stand: Russian Cinema Worldwide (Martin-Gropius-Bau, No. 106).
68th Berlin International Film Festival
President of the Competition jury Tom Tykwer, the German director, screenwriter, film score composer and producer, will be joined by actress Cécile de France (Belgium), photographer and former director of the Filmoteca Española Chema Prado (Spain), producer Adele Romanski (USA), composer Ryūichi Sakamoto (Japan) and film critic Stephanie Zacharek (USA).
This year, Russian projects have been included into a number of the Berlinale’s programmes. Aleksey German Jr.'s biopic Dovlatov has been entered into the festival’s most prestigious main competition. The film narrates a few days in the life of writer Sergei Dovlatov in Leningrad in the early 70-s, on the eve of the emigration of his friend Joseph Brodsky, the future Nobel laureate. The film is a whirligig of paradoxical and funny situations, an encounter with Leningrad’s criminal world and literary life, the Lenfilm Studio, music, poetry recitals, the craft of journalism and the passionate desire to buy his daughter a doll that is impossible to find.
Artem Vasilyev, Producer:
“Dovlatov being included into the main competition of the Berlin International Film Festival is very important for us. Besides the chance to compete with other films from around the world at the highest level, with an invariably subjective outcome rooted in a whole array of factors, participation in the Berlinale ensures the film’s exposure to distributors from other countries and can seriously impact the international prospects of the film. In the case of Dovlatov, our sales company Alpha Violet has already locked down the first deals. We are sure that more deals are to follow during the festival.”
Timur Bekmambetov's latest feature Profile, a US-Russia-UK-Cyprus coproduction, will have its World Premiere in the Panorama section of the Festival. The film follows a British journalist who goes undercover and infiltrates an international terrorist hacker organization, focused on recruiting young women from Europe.
In the Berlinale Classic section, Russia will be represented by the epic Letyat Zhuravli (The Cranes Are Flying) by Mikhail Kalatozov, the only Soviet or Russian film ever to have won the Palme d'Or in Cannes. In 1959 the film was also nominated by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in the Best Film and Best Foreign Actress categories. The lead roles are played by Tatiana Samoylova and Alexey Batalov. The main characters Boris and Veronica are a young couple in love that plan to get married. Suddenly, their plans are shattered by the outbreak of World War II. Restored and converted into a digital format by Mosfilm, The Cranes Are Flying was invited to participate in the Berlinale Classic. Restoration works were headed by Igor Bogdasarov, Mosfilm Deputy General Director and Chief Engineer.
Karen Shakhnazarov, Mosfilm General Director:
“For us it’s a matter of prestige that is a testimony to Mosfilm’s potential as this section brings together leading American and European companies. Film restoration is something we’ve been developing successfully here at Mosfilm. We have a highly qualified team, unique know-how and technologies, and despite the fact that restoration is a time-consuming and cost-intensive process, we have already restored and digitized around 100 films.
It’s not the first year Mosfilm has taken part in the Classic section of an international film festival. We’ve presented restored copies of Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky in Cannes, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker and Elem Klimov’s Come and See in Venice. The latter took home the VENICE CLASSICS AWARD FOR BEST RESTORED FILM in 2017.
The Cranes Are Flying is both a national treasure and a masterpiece of international cinema. It’s an amalgam of amazing writing by Viktor Rozov, brilliant directing by Mikhail Kalatozov, unique and innovative photography by Sergei Urusevsky, remarkable performances by Tatiana Samoylova, Alexey Batalov, Vasili Merkuryev and other amazing actors. We are happy that we were able to restore it and give it a new life.”
Another Russian film, The Son, a coproduction with France, directed by documentary filmmaker Alexander Abaturov, has been included into the Forum section of the Festival. Vdol´ i poperyok (Between the Lines), a short film by Russian director Maria Koneva, features in the Generation Kplus line-up.
ROSKINO at the European Film Market (EFM)
The EFM film market will hold a premiere market screening for industry professionals of the sci-fi feature adaptation of the bestseller A Rough Draft by Sergei Lukianenko, the author of the famous “Night Watch” series. The new film was made by Sergey Mokritsky, director of Battle for Sevastopol, which was sold to more than 40 countries around the world, and the New People Film Company. The storyline is centred on young Moscovite Kirill, a talented computer game designer. One fine day, he finds he has been completely wiped from the memory of everyone he knows and loves. Kirill discovers that he has been chosen for an important and secret mission. His task is to act as a customs agent between the dozens of parallel worlds that exist in the universe. Can Kirill find out the truth behind these secret worlds and uncover who it is that controls them, and why?
International buyers will be the first to see the version of the film for theatrical release. So far, only Sergey Lukianenko has viewed the rough cut of the film and he gave rave reviews about the work of the director and his crew, noting that the fantasy world brought to life in the film resembles and even goes beyond that which he imagined when he wrote his book.
Distributor WDSPR, recognised as the best in Russia in 2017, is releasing A Rough Draft in Russia in spring 2018. At present, the team led by Ilya Toropov that worked on projects including He’s a Dragon and LegendNo.17, is in the final stages of work on the CGI. The film was shot with the support of the Cinema Fund and the Ministry of Culture. A Rough Draft also became the first project created with the participation of the Moscow Film Commission, which assisted with the organization of shooting at restricted and difficult to access sites. International sales will be handled by English company REASON8. There has been widespread interest in the project internationally and several significant deals will be closed in Berlin.
Natalya Mokritskaya, Producer:
“The film A Rough Draft follows in the footsteps of striking Russian fantasy filmmaking that began with Night Watch. You will see the Moscow you’ve dreamed about: we are, after all, showing our wonderful city in different worlds, in different styles, suited to every fancy.”
Also during the EFM film market, Kirill Serebrennikov’s new film Leto is set to be announced on the international stage. The film was edited by the director while under house arrest. The film is based on little-known facts from the biography of cult singer Viktor Tsoi and unfolds in the summer of 1981 in Leningrad, where Russian rock was born, under the influence of Western rock artists like Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. Sales of the film will begin at the Berlin film market. The rights were bought by the film company Charades, which was founded by former upper-management of European distributors Wild Bunch, Gaumont and Studiocanal. The film was produced by the Russian Hype Production and the French Kinovista.
Ilya Stewart, Producer:
“We are delighted that distribution sales will get underway at the Berlin film market, one of the most important sales events of the year. Kirill Serebrennikov’s film Summer is a coproduction between Russia and France, which received support from the National Centre of Cinema (CNC). We take pride in the fact that Charades are handling international distribution of the project, a company which we feel a close connection to in spiritual and ideological terms. It was founded less than a year ago by the management of major distributors and motion-picture companies Wild Bunch, Gaumont and Studiocanal, who possess a colossal amount of experience. We believe that Summer, which is in the final stages of post-production, will be well received by audiences in Russia and beyond.”
Souzmultfilm studio will present the film Hoffmaniada to the international film industry for the first time. The film, which has been under development for more than a decade, is a romantic fantasy based on the tales of the famous German author Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman. The film predominantly features puppets, with elements of 3D animation and computer imagery. Screenwriter Viktor Slavkin, director Stanislav Sokolov and famous Russian artist Mihail Сhemiakin participated in the project, and the creators of the picture are traveling to Berlin with a unique collection of hand-made puppets that will be exhibited in the Russian House of Science and Culture.
Yuliana Slashcheva, Chairwoman of the Board of Souzmultfilm studio:
“Our studio has been working on Hoffmaniada for many years, we have invested great effort and put our heart and soul into the film. This film really means a lot to us. It will be on screens very soon and I'm certain it is being eagerly awaited by a great many Hoffman lovers in Russia and other countries. The brilliant directing of Stanislav Sokolov, the wonderful puppets, which are works of art based on the sketches by Mihail Chemiakin, the latest technology and the exceptionally fine and completely flawless work of our artists and animators combine to make this film truly unique. I am sure that Hoffmaniada will be a hit with audiences and will earn a place in the annals of Souzmultfim’s classics.”
There will also be a corner dedicated to the Moscow Film Commission on the ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide stand. The Moscow Film Commission was established and organized by ROSKINO and the Government of Moscow, with participation from the Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development. This will enable industry professionals to receive exhaustive information during the duration of the film market about assistance available to international film and television production companies for organizing filming in Moscow. Assistance includes consultation and scouting to select locations, assistance in obtaining permissions to film in inaccessible or restricted sites or streets in the city, consultation on the choice of local production companies and line producers, help getting the best rates for rental of the latest filming equipment, provision of a unique, continuously updated database of English-speaking actors and much more. For details, see the ROSKINO press release from Berlin.
Katya Mtsitouridze, CEO of ROSKINO:
“This year we received a record number of applications from Russian companies requesting space at the ROSKINO stand at EFM, and so for the first time in 7 years in Berlin we decided to increase the size of our stand. The Russian cinema industry, regardless of the objective challenges it faces, is quite ready to deliver competitive content to the international market. In addition to blockbusters with commercial appeal, we are also presenting indie films like Hoffmaniada from Souzmultfilm. We are delighted that Aleksey German Jr.’s new film Dovlatov is part of the Main Competition of the Berlinale. The film is a deep and sophisticated statement by a mature artist. Profile, the latest feature from another amazing Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, has been included into the Panorama section. The movie is a tech breakthrough of a new format. Another piece of news is that our stand will have a Moscow Film Commission corner, with comprehensive information about opportunities for filming in our city. We have put a great deal of work in together with the Government of Moscow, and in particular Maxim Liksutov, Head of Moscow Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development, and now the first fruits of our labour will be presented at the EFM. In a nutshell, we have a lot of work to do and are full of enthusiasm as we approach the Berlinale”.
On the stand of ROSKINO, Russian Cinema Worldwide, more than 25 Russian companies will present their projects to international buyers. The Russian companies represented include Art Pictures Studio, Central Partnership, All Media, Russian World Vision, Planeta Inform Film Distribution, WIZART, Souzmultfilm and IGMAR, among others. As part of the European Film Market, more than 40 Russian films will be presented on the stand, along with an updated version of the DOORS to Russian Cinema catalogue.
Central Partnership’s stand will feature a presentation of their flagship project Three Seconds (dir. А. Megerdichev). The sports drama about the victory of the Soviet national basketball team at the Munich Olympics has grossed almost $48 million in Russia. Other films that the company is presenting include adventure film Frontier (dir. D. Tyurin); animation films The Fixies: Top Secret and The Fixies 2; Coach, a drama about football starring and directed by Danila Kozlovsky; and horror film Mermaid: The Lake of the Dead (dir. S. Podgaevsky).
Dmitry Rudovsky and Fyodor Bondarchuk’s film-making company Art Pictures Studio are presenting drama Buy Me (dir. V. Perelman) and Ice (dir. O. Trofim), a melodrama about figure-skating, to buyers at EFM.
All Media’s new projects on show at the European film market include historical action film The Conquest of Siberia (dir. I. Zaytsev). The action takes place during the times of Peter the Great’s reforms, when in the taiga the emerging Empire was clashing with medieval warlords: it was a melting pot of beliefs and peoples. The history of Russia in Asia was played out by Swedish prisoners, ethnic minorities, merchants from Bukhara, officials and officers, convicts, architects, chroniclers, Chinese smugglers, shamans and escaped Raskolniks, Orthodox missionaries and belligerent steppe Dzungars. In addition, All Media is presenting historical drama Sobibor (dir. K. Khabensky) starring Konstantin Khabensky and Christopher Lambert and the thriller Selfie (dir. N. Khomeriki).
Wizart will be presenting its animated feature The Snow Queen: Wonderland at the EFM, which is the fourth installment of the successful franchise. For the very first time, a Hollywood professional, the American Robert Lence (whose credits include Disney's Beauty And The Beast and Toy Story) has joined the creative team to direct the project alongside Alexey Tsitsilin. The Russian release of the film is planned for December 27, 2018. Wizard’s second successful animation project to be presented is the second in a franchise, Sheep & Wolves-2, directed by Mikhail Babenko. The first film in the series enjoyed a theatrical release in Scandinavia in 2016, an unprecedented success in the history of Russian independent animation. The film also won the Grand Prix at the Seoul Guro International Kids Film Festival, and the prestigious Lahore International Children’s Film Festival award. Sheep & Wolves-2 is scheduled to hit screens in Fall 2018.
Planeta Inform Group of Companies is to present its new film Leaving Afghanistan at the Berlinale. Directed by Pavel Lungin, the story is set in Afghanistan around the time of the withdrawal of Russian troops in 1988. The plot focuses on an under-the-radar operation to extract the 108th Motor Rifle Division from the Charikar valley to the Salang Pass. The company will also present a teaser of its new horror, Deadly Still (dir. A. Zenkovich), and a trailer and a fragment from The Unforgiven (a drama directed by S. Andreasyan), starring Dmitry Nagiev. Other projects include sci-fi blockbuster Coma (dir. N. Argunov) and Robo (dir. S. Andreasyan), a story about the friendship between a boy and a robot.
Russian World Vision will be attending the EFM, bringing its works for the international distributors including Tankers (dir. K. Maksimov), a war film that is based on true events. The studio’s other new projects include a drama titled Temporary Difficulties (dir. M, Raskhodnikov), also based on a true story; Break (dir. T. Saakyan), a thriller currently in the production stage; and a comedy called Kids For Rent (dir. T. Kapitan).
Mars Media and AMEDIA Production are coming to the European Film Market with their key joint project T-34 (dir. A. Sidorov), a World War II adventure action. The story revolves around the stand-off between two tank aces, the German Hauptmann Jager and Lieutenant Junior Ivushkin, who had made a daring escape from a German prison.
The European Film Market has long gathered together cinema industry professionals in Berlin. This year, more than 9000 visitors are expected, including around 1500 buyers, 480 stand-owners and the international press. This year the EFM will have a new section: the EFM Producers Hub. Its goal is to provide producers from around the world with access to free consultations from global experts in financing and distribution strategy.