The 68th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market came to a close on February 24th, 2018. For the seventh time running, ROSKINO presented a crop of Russian films at its ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide stand, with the generous support from the Russian Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Moscow City Government.
An international jury presided over by the German filmmaker Tom Tykwer awarded the festival’s highest honor, the Golden Bear, to Adina Pintilie’s experimental „Touch Me Not,“ which also took home the Best Debut prize.
This year’s lineup boasted several entries from Russia in different programs. Aleksey German Jr.’s „Dovlatov“ was included in the most prestigious main competition, where Elena Okopnaya, the film’s production and costume designer, won The Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.
Elena Okopnaya, Production/Costume Design, „Dovlatov“:
„I’m happy to see a major award go to a movie so challenging for European audiences. It came as a surprise to the whole crew, and I hope it’ll contribute to our movie’s future success. This film was a personal challenge for me as well. I tried to treat with great respect the epoch we recreated, its people, their everyday lives and surroundings. My intention was to communicate through the tiniest details the spirit of that time period as well as the characters‘ feelings and emotions. First and foremost, I’d like to thank my husband, the talented director and screenwriter Aleksey German Jr., whose faith in me brought all my plans to fruition.“
Aleksey German Jr., Director, „Dovlatov“:
„I’m happy that our film received this award. Frankly speaking, we flew back to Moscow with no expectations, so this distinction came as a complete shock. I’m also pleased with the award we got from the readers of Berliner Morgenpost, but what matters to me the most is that after the screening I saw people reading their recently purchased copies of Dovlatov’s books. Some of them asked questions about our local writers and artists and the whole cultural milieu of Leningrad in the 1970s. This is what makes all the difference at the end of the day, whereas the festivals themselves, whether it be Cannes, Berlin, or Venice, don’t mean that much to us. Our most important task was to remind people of those wonderful writers and artists.“
At the EFM, which is part of the festival structure, „Dovlatov“ was picked up by Netflx for all English-speaking territories including Canada, the USA, Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia. So far, the title has been sold to 30 countries worldwide including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Turkey, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, and China among others.
Timur Bekmambetov’s „Profile,“ presented in the Panorama sidebar, won the Audience Award of Panorama, this section’s top prize. Based on the real events chronicled in a book by the French journalist Anna Érelle, the film details a high-stakes case of investigative journalism and is shot in the innovative „Screenlife“ format developed by BAZELEVS Studio. The feature was produced by Timur Bekmambetov and Olga Kharina; written by Timur Bekmambetov, Olga Kharina, and Brittany Poulton; edited by Andrey Shugaev („Spacewalk,“ „Yolki,“ „Game of Truth“). The production assembled an international team of cast and crew members.
Timur Bekmambetov, Director:
„My Mom was a journalist, so I grew up convinced that a journalist’s duty is to tell the truth and remain unbiased. It is, of course, a tall order when you have to make morally-charged choices between duty and conviction and personal feelings. I admire Anna. When she published the findings of her investigation completely uncensored, she let us all see those events through her eyes, in her shoes. It requires no small willpower, and cannot be underestimated.“
ROSKINO at European Film Market (EFM)
This year, the ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide stand at the EFM inaugurated a corner dedicated specifically to the Moscow Film Commission, a joint effort of ROSKINO and Moscow City Government supported by the Department for Transport and Road Infrastructure Development. Throughout the week, ROSKINO employees held over 80 meetings with industry professionals discussing collaboration prospects on projects to be filmed in the capital of Russia. Some international producers and studio execs have already planned their visits to Moscow meant to help them take stock of the Russian film market and scout possible locations. Among them are: Trialuty (Canada), Tenax Media, Entertainment One, Myriad Pictures, representatives of a French company that funds prospective film projects, leading Italian producers from ANICA (Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisivee Multimediali), and other production companies.
Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
„All in all, it was a good Berlinale for Russia, both in terms of festival presence, since our films didn’t go home empty-handed, and in terms of the market. All the featured companies bar none have expressed the same sentiment that ROSKINO’s tireless promotion shone a spotlight on our titles, which is confirmed by sales figures. As for our Commission, we couldn’t be more pleased with our international team who had dozens of meetings in Berlin advertising Moscow as a film location to filmmakers, producers, and executives from abroad. Our commercials and a video showcasing the splendid and versatile locations to be found in Moscow drew sizeable crowds on a daily basis. We are just embarking on a journey other cities completed years ago, but the early fruits of our labor are already visible. It’ll take time, however, to overcome the stereotype of Moscow as an expensive and unaccommodating city for filmmakers.“
At the EFM, famous British producer Paul Ritchie shared his experience of working in Moscow, where several episodes of the BBC/AMC co-produced „McMafia“ had been filmed with the support from „Vodorod“ Studio. The show is based on British journalist Misha Glenny’s book entitled McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld. As they plan subsequent seasons, the producers intend to continue their collaboration with the Film Commission, from casting English-speaking Russian actors to
overseeing the shoot logistics in Moscow’s key locations. At the moment, the Moscow Film Commission offers a wide variety of services that range from getting permits for shooting in restricted-access locations and city streets, to choosing local production companies and line producers, to renting state-of-the-art equipment at the lowest prices and maintaining a unique, regularly updated database of English-speaking actors.
Paul Ritchie, Producer:
„Moscow is featured prominently in „McMafia,“ so over the last year I flew in to that city three times in a row. The whole crew had a wonderful time there, largely thanks to the Russian team’s professionalism. The overall cost of filming in Moscow put it just about on a par with other East European countries, if not lower. This factor pretty much sealed our decision to shoot in Moscow.“
Frank Priot, International Consultant for the Moscow Film Commission: „As of today, industry professionals are unaware that Moscow, after all the fluctuations in the past, is now a highly affordable shooting location, especially if compared to Budapest or Prague.“
The ROSKINO – Russian Cinema Worldwide Stand presented to international buyers film projects from over 25 Russian companies, such as: Art Pictures Studio, Central Partnership, All Media, Russian World Vision, Planeta Inform Film Distribution, WIZART, Souzmultfilm, IGMAR, Mosfilm, Mars Media etc. Over 40 Russian titles were for sale at the EFM, and an updated edition of the DOORS to Russian Cinema catalogue was introduced as well.
„Central Partnership“ and Аirmita Culture Development Co. have sold their „Three Seconds“ (dir. A. Megerdichev) to China.
Liang Du, CEO of Airmita Culture Development Co.:
„“Three Seconds“ is even more impressive than many Hollywood sports movies. It is also based on a true story, which should resonate with the audiences on a deeper level. That’s why we’ve decided to make „Three Seconds“ our priority in 2018. The film broke box-office records in Russia, but this is not the reason why we are going to prioritize its release. You see, the Chinese market is enormous and varied, and domestic, or even international, success doesn’t always translate to considerable box-office receipts in China. However, we are optimistic about
„Three Seconds“ because our market is lacking in true-story sports films that would be as exceptionally inspiring.“
Chinese distributors have long been known to favor Russian productions. In 2017 alone, the blockbusters „Flight Crew“ and „Viking,“ both produced and distributed by Central Partnership, were released in China theatrically. Another deal closed at the market involved Spanish rights to „Three Seconds,“ to be handled by the major distribution company „Mediaset.“
Dmitry Rudovsky and Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Art Pictures Studio wowed the market with their „Ice“ (dir. O. Trofim), which had already come out in Russia as well as abroad in Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Baltic countries. Offers were soon made by France and Hungary; a deal with Latin America is nearing approval. Negotiations are in final stages for Canada (the Francophone region), Spain, Germany, South Korea, and Japan. Another offering from the studio, Vadim Perelman’s „Buy Me,“ has secured limited release in Germany and France.
An animated documentary from the Georgian artist Rezo Gabriadze „REZO,“ produced by Timur Bekmambetov, premiered at the Berlin Film Market as well. Rezo Gabriadze is a writer with a loyal cult following, and the creator of a unique puppet theatre. Directed by Leo Gabriadze (Unfriended, Lucky Trouble), this autobiographical animated documentary explores the ideas of deep-seated humanity, kindness, and generosity in the harsh post- WWII era.
Valeria Dobrolyubova, MirsandLtd., Exclusive Distributor for Bazelevs: „The appreciative audiences of Berlinale and EFM welcomed our films with arms wide open, both Timur Bekmambetov’s PROFILE and the animated REZO. The opening night is just the first step of a long journey. We have a lot of interesting work ahead of us as we make sure that not only professional festival audiences, but also regular moviegoers appreciate the films produced by Bazelevs.“
„Souzmultfilm“ unveiled their animated feature „Hoffmaniada“ to industry professionals at EFM. First presented at a market screening, the movie went on to sell at the ROSKINO stand. Some big names involved with this project are screenwriter Viktor Slavkin, director Stanistlav Sokolov, and acclaimed Russian artist Mikhail Shemyakin.
Maria Smirnova, Chief Commercial Officer at Souzmultfilm:
„We couldn’t be happier with how things went at the EFM. All the goals we had set for ourselves were accomplished. „Souzmultfilm“ presented a film that enjoyed a very warm reception. Numerous festival reps and international distributors attended the screening, so afterwards we were approached by Asian distributors and several festival committees. We are currently in talks with French and German distributors.“
All Media premiered at the EFM its historical action „The Conquest of Siberia“ (dir. I. Zaytsev) and continued to sell the true-story drama „Sobibor“ (dir. K. Khabenskiy) starring Konstantin Khabenskiy and Christopher Lambert, as well as the thriller „Selfie“ (dir. N. Khomeriki).
Zhanna Shakhshaeva, Head of International Department at All Media:
„It’s been an incredibly productive market for us. We had a lot of meetings with our international partners. „Sobibor“ is still going strong, now having sold to Brazil, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Bulgaria. It’ll be released theatrically in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and America. The international premiere will take place in Poland. We’re also in talks on „The Conquest of Siberia,“ „Selfie,“ and „Super Bobrovs 2.“ We’d like to thank our colleagues from ROSKINO for making this film market such a pleasant experience.“
Wizart presented at the EFM two of its flagship projects, the animated feature „The Snow Queen: Wonderland“ and Mikhail Babenko’s „Sheep & Wolves 2“, the newest installment in a popular franchise.
Yuri Moskvin, Managing Producer, Wizart:
„For our animation studio, this market was as busy as it was successful. While we were in Berlin „The Snow Queen: Wonderland“ got off to a great start in France, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Both leading distributors and box- office analysts agree that we’re headed in the right direction. For example, Video France and KLB SAS, Universal Pictures partners, purchased French and Francophone distribution rights to „The Snow Queen.“ As the third movie came out in theatres it was crucial for us to ensure a wide international rollout for the next installment. It was at the EFM that we closed deals on both our titles for the
USA, where they will be released by the end of the year, and South Africa, where our characters will be dubbed in Zulu and Afrikaans. The new installments of these franchises are hotly anticipated by our partners in Turkey and the Middle East. Wizart also serves as a sales agent for „Urfin and His Wooden Soldiers,“ which will now be released in Germany and the UK.“
The slate of „Planeta Inform“ combined both familiar projects („Coma,“ „The Scythian,“ „Robo“) and recent additions („The Unforgiven“ and „Deadly Still“). A trailer and a new excerpt from „The Unforgiven,“ starring Dmitry Nagiev, screened at the market sparkling negotiations with Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Latin America. „The Scythian“ was sold to the UK, Ireland, and the USA. „The Bride,“ previously sold almost worldwide, signed Korea, while „Guardians“ closed deals with the Middle East and Northern Africa. „Coma“ was picked up by a Spanish distributor. Planeta Inform also premiered the first teaser for Anton Zenkovich’s new horror „Deadly Still.“
Anastasia Bankovskaya, Head of International Sales at Planeta Inform:
„Our new horror „Deadly Still“ has already received offers from Southeast Asia and China, with Taiwan, Thailand, China, Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Latin America, and the UK currently in talks.“
Russian World Vision courted international buyers with their period drama „The First Ones“ (dir. D. Suvorov), currently in talks with China, Japan, South Korea, the UK, and other territories. „Tankers“ (dir. K. Maksimov), already sold to German- and French- speaking territories, Scandinavia, Japan, and South Korea, was approached by buyers from Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Bosnia, with the UK still in talks. „Break“ (dir. T. Saakyan), its deals with German-speaking territories and Japan already sealed, caught the eye of Hungarian and South Korean distributors. RWV also managed to sell all but theatrical rights to „Kids for Rent“ in China. „Panfilov’s 28“ (dir. K. Druzhinin, A. Shalopa) added Iran to its already impressive international reach.
„Mars Media“ and „AMEDIA Production“ focused on the epic „T-34“ (dir. A. Sidorov), an action-packed account of WWII. The first footage shown at the market piqued the buyer’s interest. As of now, deals with large distributors in South Korea, France, the Baltic region, and Germany are all but finalized, while China, Japan, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy, and Eastern Europe have expressed a great deal of interest.
Ruben Dishdishyan, Producer:
„We’re happy to have attracted notice from buyers from all over the world. We hope that this story has universal appeal. Our colleagues appreciated the scope, action scenes, and storytelling of our project and claimed that „The Fast and the Furious in Tanks“ could be its official slogan.“
This year’s edition of the Berlin International Film Festival welcomed over 21,000 accredited participants from over 130 countries. The overall ticket sales exceeded 330,000. The EFM also showed growth by having 10,000 attendees from 112 countries.
ROSKINO is the only Russian state institution promoting Russian cinema internationally. Since its foundation in 1924 ROSKINO facilitates the integration of the Russian filmmakers into the world industry. In 2014 the company celebrated its 90th anniversary.
The company promotes Russian cinema at major film festivals (Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto, Beijing, London), markets (AFM in Los Angeles, EFM in Berlin, Marché du FIlm and MIPCOM in Cannes), and awards (The Oscars, Golden Globes, EFA Awards). It supports distribution of Russian cinema and solicits international investments and co- production partnerships.
One of the most prominent initiatives of ROSKINO is the DOORS international traveling film market that allows the company to present national cinema at various markets around the world.
Since 2012 ROSKINO operates the Russian Film Commission USA based in Los Angeles.
In 2014 ROSKINO launched a London office, ROSKINO UK.
In October, 2014 ROSKINO organized the Saint Petersburg International Media Forum, a high profile event uniting three types of content markets dealing with film, TV and new media that generated a considerable attention in the national and international media industry. The Media Forum attracted 2700 participants from 57 countries from around the world.
In May, 2016 ROSKINO became official partner of the Cannes Film Festival international film market Marché du Film, where it presented the program Focus on Russia, which consisted of 12 events ranging from press conferences to showcases of new projects.
In 2017, together with the Government of Moscow, ROSKINO has founded the Moscow Film Commission, an institution with the mission to promote the city as a unique shooting location and to provide assistance to international film and TV production companies in organizing shoots in the capital of Russia.
Katya Mtsitouridze is head of ROSKINO, Channel One film expert, Variety Russia Editor-in-Chief, SPIMF concept developer and general producer.
Katya graduated from the Tbilisi State University with an MA in history and film studies.
She is the author and narrator of This Is Cinema, a regular show on Russia’s Channel One.
She is ROSKINO CEO since 2011.
Katya’s portfolio includes diplomas of the film festivals in Cannes and Venice as well as the AFM market in LA.
In June, 2001, she was a member of the FIPRESCI jury at the 23rd Moscow International Film Festival.
In May, 2002, she was a member of the FIPRESCI jury at the 55th Cannes International Film Festival.
In June, 2003, Katya was on the jury for debut films at the 25th Moscow International Film Festival.
In May, 2008, she was a member of the jury of the Un Certain Regard section of the 61th Cannes International Film Festival.
Still in 2008, she initiated the creation of the Russian Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival which she is heading to the present day.
From September, 2010 to January, 2011 Mtsitouridze provided PR support in US and Canada for The Edge (Krai), a film by Alexey Uchitel, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the HFPA Golden Globe awards.
In September, 2011 she was in charge of the international PR and advertising campaign of Alexander Sokurov’s Faust that won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival.
In June, 2012 she held the first DOORS International Traveling Film Market of Russian content within the framework of the 34th Moscow International Film Festival.
In November, 2012, Katya reached an agreement with HULU, one of the leading US digital platforms, for the VOD release of 12 contemporary Russian titles.
In May, 2014 she reached a further agreement for the distribution of CTC Media TV Content through HULU platforms.
In October, 2014 Katya held the first edition of the Saint Petersburg International Media Forum of which she was the concept developer and general producer.
In 2016, Katya has received the prize of the First National Business Communication Award in the “Breakthrough of the Year” category for the company’s outstanding achievements in 2016, particularly for ROSKINO’s partnership with the world’s biggest film market Marché du Film as part of the 69th Cannes International Film Festival, thanks to which Russia has become the event’s true headliner.
In 2017, together with the Government of Moscow, Katya has founded the Moscow Film Commission, an institution with the mission to promote the city as a unique shooting location and to provide assistance to international film and TV production companies in organizing shoots in the capital of Russia.
Katya is a member of FIPRESCI, the Russian Filmmakers’ Union, the Russian and International Unions of Journalists, the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Russia. She also holds an MA in History.