With First Virtual Co-Pro Market, Russian Producers Look Beyond Borders

Christopher Vourlias

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The protracted chill between Moscow and the West might be putting a Cold War-style freeze on diplomatic relations globally, but all signs in recent years point toward a Russian film industry drawing closer to its counterparts across the world, with international co-productions steadily on the rise.

The Russian government’s announcement last year of a cash rebate of up to 40% signaled its intent to woo foreign producers to the country; so did a decision by the culture ministry to support Russian minority co-productions for the first time. “Something has changed, and we’re really happy that it’s changing now,” says producer Anna Gudkova.

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Gudkova is the curator of the co-production section of the Key Buyers Event: Digital Edition, a virtual platform to present Russian projects to international buyers organized by Russian film promotion body Roskino. The event takes place June 8-15.

Not since the early 2010s has the Russian industry had a dedicated co-production market, says Gudkova, pointing to past initiatives like the Moscow Business Square section of the Moscow Intl. Film Festival and the Russian Cinema Fund-backed Red Square Screenings. “There was a huge gap, and we tried to fill this gap as much as we could,” she says.

Gudkova says a relatively small number of Russian production companies have developed a history of international partnership. But when the call for the co-production market went out, more than 80 applications from across the industry poured in. “We didn’t expect that many projects would be sent to us. That was really a surprise.”

The selections run the gamut from both live-action and animated feature films and TV series to documentaries. “It was a really wide representation of industry players and projects,” says Gudkova. In selecting the more than 40 projects that will take part in pitching sessions during the Key Buyers Event, she sought out those that were attached to producers and production companies with a reliable track record, as well as projects that had clear international appeal.

In doing so, she said she was guided by her own experiences as a producer trying to navigate the world of international film finance. “For me, the most important thing was to find the right people, and to be guided through this international jungle, and I want to do the same for all the people who come from abroad for the Key Buyers Event.”

For a Russian industry long focused on the domestic market, it’s an opportune time to build new bridges, particularly in light of a global pandemic that has cast the old ways of doing business in doubt. “In my opinion, the only way to survive is sharing experience, is helping each other, is trying to invent new models and discuss new models all over the world,” says Gudkova. “Among the producers, among the distributors, sales agents.”

She adds: “I think this co-production section in [the Key Buyers Event] is a unique place to discuss all those issues, and to share all the experiences we have…and to invent some very innovative ways to recover and to overcome all those difficulties.”

The projects pitching in the co-production market are listed below. More information about the selected projects and production companies can be found here.

Feature Films:
“The Dream,” X-Soul Production
“The First Oscar,” New People Film Company
“Free Fall,” Plan 9
“The Jew,” Motor Film Studio
“Petropolis,” Revolution Film
“Last Honest Olympics,” Horosho Production
“Shostakovich,” Rock Films
“White Road,” Telesto
“Babydoll,” CTB Film Company
“Cookie From Grandpa,” Sputnik Vostok Production
“December,” All Media
“The Danube,” Marmot-Film
“The Summer Ends Soon,” Kinokult P.C.
“Flight,” Pioner Film Group/Proline Film
“Roses of Modigliani,” Inspiration Films
“Fire!” Ark Pictures

ТV series:
“There,” Scoop Production
“Bright Sky,” Format TV
“Rorik,” Premier Studios
“SH,” Lateral Summer
“Eight Days of Summer,” Sputnik Vostok Production

Documentary films:
“Deadline,” Pervoe Kino Film Company
“Zimov Hypothesis,” Ethnofund Film Company
“Bakshi. The Great Compassion Meditation,” Anniko Films
“Winter,” Line Up
“Zakura,” Pioner Film Group/Leopolis
“Romance with Revolution,” Format TV
“Prophet of Doom. Vanishing of Vladimir Alexandrov” (working title), Metrafilms

Animated feature films:
“The Great Race,” CGF Animation
“The Treasure Hunt,” Soyuzmultfilm
“Fairytale Flurry,” Riki Group
“Netski. The Universe of the Net,” Kolobanga Media

Animated series:
“Homies,” Animation Studio 100 KiloWatt
“Weatherville,” Riki Group
“Christmas Academy,” Riki Group
“Beardy Bodo,” Riki Group
“Spaceport,” Parovoz Animation Studio
“Tweetville,” Parovoz Animation Studio
“Boo the Cat and the Good Boy,” Parovoz Animation Studio
“Crabots,” Aeroplane/Riki Group
“Firebots,” Wizart Animation
“Cat Mashka,” Wheel of Fate
“Frosh,” Soyuzmultfilm
“Cosmi Academy,” Brand4rent

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