MADE IN RUSSIA SPECIAL PROGRAM AT THE 69th EDITION OF THE BERLINALE AND EFM
On February 9, 2019 Roskino and the Russian Export Center co-hosted a series of special events within the framework of the Berlinale and the European Film Market. The Made in Russia program at Adlon Kempinski conference space was divided in three parts: a panel discussion on the role of creative industries in international partnerships, economics and development, a showcase of recent Russian projects, and an evening reception.
The panel was moderated by Roskino CEO Katya Mtsitouridze and Christopher Vourlias, Variety’s market expert. The aim of the event was to promote the export potential of the Russian film industry and encourage international content distributors to deal with Russian productions. The roster of speakers included Russian and international industry professionals, producers, sales agents, distributors, investors, insurance agents, and private equity funds.
Katya Mtsitouridze, Roskino CEO:
‘International buyers demonstrate a steadily growing interest for Russian content. Eight years ago when my team and I were invited to transform Sovexportfilm into Roskino, there already were national box office hits such as Night Watch, Day Watch, Shadowboxing, 9th Company, to name but a few. However, the excellent Soviet system of international film promotion had been completely destroyed during the 1990’s. Eight years of our efforts resulted in the establishment of a central point of reference for our top film and TV content providers and the creation of a consolidated promotion toolkit. The industry itself along with the governance and the financing policies have changed a lot over this time. But the essential thing is that Russian producers have fully realized how important it is to sell internationally. In 2010 the overall international sales of Russian film products amounted to $1 million while by the end of 2018 the total was $27 mln. This difference is enough to show that the national film industry is progressing towards international integration.
So far Russian films have proved most attractive to buyers from China and other Asian markets. There is also an interest in Europe and Latin America. New Russian titles are sold to dozens of territories, from Germany and France to Japan, South Korea, and the Baltic Republics. Last year alone we received and redirected to local productions over 130 partnership offers and requests. Roskino has established a comprehensive database of national film companies. We are perfectly positioned to offer advice and organizational support and introduce international partners to local film and TV professionals. We are using a diversified toolkit to promote Moscow and St. Petersburg as filming destinations and help local productions to reach international buyers. We also fully embrace the recent initiative of the Russian Ministry of Culture that would allow Russia to become a minority partner in international co-productions. It would be an enormous step forward.’
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.
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. The creative sector affects income generation, job creation, and export revenues.
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.
National animation has been doing pretty well. Some of the recent features and series, notably Kikoriki, Masha and the Bear, Snow Queen, Kid-E-Cats, have already grown into commercially successful projects.
The government institutions should contribute to the export potential of the national creative industries.
The REC-Roskino partnership is a new and also 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 discussion touched upon several relevant issues, including the experience of international partnerships in film industry, co-production perspectives, Russian and international best practices of of co-production, investments and opportunities for intergovernmental partnerships.
Christopher Vourlias, Variety:
‘’Moscow’s unique locations and top notch professionals make it an ideal filming destination for international productions. In Cannes we have all admired the Moscow in Motion action short and photo project, and yet the global industry is still gravitating towards Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic. The reason is simple: the prices they offer are so low they are hard to compete with. This way they have attracted dozens of major Hollywood projects. However, Russia has been gaining recognition in the global entertainment industry. We have been following the incredible efforts of the Roskino team to promote the national industry as a whole and more specifically Moscow and its capacities. Today’s event offers yet another proof. If anything, Moscow and St. Petersburg have to get a stronger promotion as tourist destinations. The brilliant organization of the FIFA World Cup has shown that Russia is the next hot spot.’
Anna Kachko, producer, Germany:
‘Russia is gaining momentum as a popular market with a great capacity. We get lots of co-production requests from international companies but targeted institutional support is a key factor. Tax rebates would be of enormous help. Co-productions also require nongovernmental financing such as bank loans and other forms of investment. The system must be completely transparent for all the stakeholders.’
Laurent Danielou, producer, distributor, LOCO FILMS founder, France:
‘I have the experience of actually producing films in Russia. I was one of the producers of Alexander Sokurov’s war drama Alexandra featuring in the main competition line-up of the Cannes festival, as well as of Vera Glagoleva’s Two Women, a film that won the general acclaim at several international festivals. I think Russian films are interesting and exciting, more and more beautiful projects appear every year. Russian films have to be supported and promoted internationally, the global industry professionals have to be aware of them. Roskino is the equivalent of the French UniFrance, the only voice of the Russian cinema on the international scene. The structure offers the unique opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the recent productions while the companies represented at the umbrella stand are facilitated in their efforts to find international partners.’
Dmitry Litvinov, Planeta Inform CEO:
‘We have been working with Roskino for many years. Together we have done many markets around the world, and I have to admit that this partnership has contributed to our global success in promotion of national content.
Our company is focused on horrors and sells worldwide. Surprisingly, our products do very well in Latin America, we are very very happy with our box office in that part of the world.
Events of today’s kind offer an opportunity to present our company to international professionals, showcase our projects and make useful new contacts. Last year we have discovered that our films attract a lot of attention in Brazil: apparently our mentalities and dispositions are somehow close and the Brazilian public can relate to our stories.’
The second part of the event offered a showcase of the key recent projects of major Russian companies.
Studio Slon presented Acid featured in the Panorama section of the 2019 edition of the Berlinale. The study of today’s youth is the directorial debut of Alexander Gorchilin, one of the stars of the Moscow Gogol Centre theatre.
Sabina Eremeeva, Acid producer:
‘As a producer I see the importance of participating in a top international festival that first and foremost means an opportunity to promote the film abroad. The French company WIDE is taking care of our world sales and the deals for Japan and Poland have already been closed before the premiere. But this is just the beginning, and Acid features in the market line-up along with the festival screenings. We are very grateful to Roskino for the precious assistance in the promotion of our film at the Berlinale as well as the opportunity to present it here today.’
Mila Rozanova, the producer responsible for international sales and co-productions at Mars Media, showcased 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:
‘We have opened the sales for this film exactly a year ago at the Roskino stand at the EFM. 12 months after here we are again, with the film sold to most of the key territories, 35 countries around the world. Theatrical releases normally happen during the first year, then there is a decrease in demand and sales continue for streaming and TV distribution, so we are here to close the last deals.’
Nadezhda Mikhalkova, The Cursed Seat director and producer, presented her directorial debut produced by VVP Alliance Studio.
Nadezhda Mikhalkova, The Cursed Seat director and producer:
‘I am just an aspiring director so it was very exciting for me to join this event. I have to learn how to promote my project, network, and collect stories. Presenting my work in front of global industry professionals and journalists is a thrilling and meaningful experience. I am grateful to Roskino and to Katya Mtsitouridze personally for offering me the opportunity to communicate with this wide professional audience.’
Vladimir Nikolaev, Wizart Animation Executive Producer, showcased Snow Queen: Mirrorlands, the fourth instalment of the top international box office hit in the records of Russian independent animation. The film is a joint venture of Soyuzmultfilm studios, Central Partnership, and the Chinese HY Media.
Vladimir Nikolaev, Wizart Executive Producer:
‘The fourth instalment of the Snow Queen franchise has successfully opened both in Europe and in Asia. It is the first Russian film to earn over $1 mln in the international box office in 2019. We have already signed the deals with distributors from 45 countries. Meanwhile the previous instalment, Fire and Ice, broke our records by earning $14,2 mln in the international box office. It has been a success in France from the first weeks of release, the very first theatrical release in France for Wizart and for the whole Russian animation. We have been astonished by our success in China where the project earned $11.555.000 in spite of all the well known limitations of the market. This is a breakthrough for the Russian industry. At the moment we are busy with the international sales of the new instalment at the Roskino-REC umbrella stand.’
Diana Yurinova, Riki Group VP for International Development, presented My Toy Panda, an action comedy by Denis Chernov slated for national release on October, 2019.
Diana Yurinova, Riki Group VP for International Development:
‘My Toy Panda is a family action comedy currently in production, scheduled to be completed in 2019. We attach a lot of importance to EFM hoping to find partners for worldwide theatrical release. So far the sales are going very well and we shall be glad to get your offers.’
All Media Company showcased the two recent titles, war thriller Saving Leningrad by Alexey Kozlov and The Conquest of Siberia, Igor Zaytsev’s epic tale of the times of Peter the Great.
Zhanna Shakhshaeva, All Media Head of international Department:
‘During the first days of the market international buyers have already expressed a considerable interest in our projects. Saving Leningrad will be released in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and later in the UK, the US, and South Korea. The Conquest of Siberia will be simultaneously released in Russia, Germany, and the former Yugoslavia. Korean and Spanish releases will follow. Negotiations are going on with France, Italy, China, Japan, and Scandinavia. We hope to repeat the success of Sobibor, a wartime thriller that we sold to dozens of countries last year.’
Planeta Inform Group presented The Dawn, a new horror by Pavel Sidorov starring Oksana Akinshina. This is the new production of the duo behind the international success of The Bride, Dmitry Litvinov and Vladislav Severtsev.
MosFilm Studios focused on 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.
Russian World Vision puts an emphasis on of The House Elf, a family fantasy by Evgeny Bedarev slated for national release in April, 2019. Head of International Department Ekaterina Levitan informed the audience that the film had already been sold to German-speaking countries.
Igmar productions focused on 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, International Relations Manager, mentioned negotiations with interested partners around the globe.
In conclusion Roskino presented the Moscow in Motion action short created with the endorsement of the Moscow government to promote the diverse locations of the Russian capital, draw international attention to the solutions offered by the Moscow Film Commission, and showcase the possibilities of the local productions. The Berlin audience received it as enthusiastically as the public in Cannes. The quality of the production as well as the wonderful locations were unanimously acclaimed.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian film critic (UK):
‘I have first met Katya Mtsitouridze in Cannes many years ago, and I am happy to witness the outcomes of her work and the efforts of her team. While previously no one really knew what the new Russian cinema was about and how to deal with the Russian film industry, today owing to the Roskino events at various film markets we are provided with an overview, there are no more information gaps. This evening we were treated to exciting showcases, thrilling stories, and fascinating images, all very ambitious. And the top notch quality of the Moscow in Motion movie has impressed me a lot. I would even like to see the format develop into a feature.’
Richard Cook, The Lisa Richards Agency, UK:
‘This was an excellent presentation, a highly professional job. I think Russian actors have a very high potential and the best training in the world. And these are not just nice words, I am drawing upon the long and successful experience of working with Yuri Kolokolnikov, Danila Kozlovsky, Yuliya Snigir, and many more. Our agency represents them internationally, and events exposing us to the creations of Russian actors, directors, DPs, and producers are extremely useful and important. These meetups are a must for all of us.’
The event was attended by over 200 industry professionals from 17 countries, including content distributors from France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, the US, and China. Power To The Pixel consultancy CEO Liz Rosenthal, Kino Lorber CEO and founder Richard Lorber, The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw, producer Richard Cook, 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 professionals and dignitaries were among the guests of honor.
As a result, Russian participants received partnership proposals from a number of international companies, including an offer of new Russian content distribution from one of the leading world streaming platforms.
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