Making their mark at Cannes, setting up a film commission in Beverly Hills, and inviting a cadre of industryites (including me) to a series of screenings during the upcoming 34th Moscow International Film Festival, Russia’s film industry is putting down money on raising its global profile.
From June 22-24, the Russian Film Commission USA, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Cinema department of the Ministry of Culture and its state film promotion body Roskino (aka Sovexportfilm) are mounting the “Digital October Open Roskino Screening, DOORS” inside Moscow’s old October Chocolate Factory, which has been transformed into the Digital October Center. They will screen 20 new Russian films including Renata Litvinova’s “Rita’s Last Fairy Tale,” starring Russian rock star Zemfira, introduce filmmakers and present industry panels for MIFF attendees. Their stated purpose: “encouraging acquisition discussion and activities and meetings with filmmakers who have new and existing projects.” They also want filmmakers to consider Russia as a location and co-production partner.
The Russian Film Commission USA is headed by festival programmer, acquisition and co-production executive Eleonora Granata and Hollywood Foreign Press member Sergei Rakhlin; they work for Roskino Director General Catherine Mtsitouridze.
At Cannes, the Russian Federations’Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Roskino and “Planeta Inform” Communication Group boasted the fifth Russian Film Pavilion as well as a Cannes Film Market booth and presented ten new films to distributors on May 18. They also promoted their wares along with 100 other countries as an official partner of the Market’s “Producers Network.” “Our focus is to bring Russian product with global appeal to the international industry,” said Mtsitouridze.
In the main Cannes Competition was Sergey Loznitsa’s Nazi occupation resistance drama “In the Fog” (a Russia-Germany-Latvia-Netherlands-Belorussia co-production), which won the FIPRESCI critics’ prize, Taisia Igumentsev’s short student film “Road To” played in the Cinefondation program, winning the First Cinefondation Prize and €15,000.
Attending Cannes and speaking to the press were Mtsitouridze, Viacheslav Telnov, Head of the Cinema Department of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, and Dmitry Litvinov, Director General of Planeta Inform. Roskino sponsors and partners include Sberbank, Channel One Russia, Kommersant and Variety.
Also presented at the Russian Pavilion at Cannes was “Mayakofsky,” the first film produced by and starring “Good Bye Lenin” actress Chulpan Khamatova, directed and co-written by Alexander Shein (“Euphoria”). Co-starring Supermodel Natalya Vodyanova, “Mayakovsky” explores the vibrant life and mysterious death of the renowned Russian poet and artist who was shot in Moscow on April 14th, 1930. The film is partly based on playwright & historian Arkady Wachsberg’s global bestseller “The Magic & Mystery of Lily Brik,” a book about Vladimir Mayakovsky’s greatest love. Wachsberg worked with Shein on the screenplay; Mayakofsky influenced the Dadaists and Surrealists as well as modern poster design and advertising. Giya Lordkipanidze (“América”) and Sergei Chliyant also produced the film, which is slated to start principal photography at the end of 2012 in Russia, Ukraine, France, the U.S., Hungary and Canada for a planned 2014 release.