FOCUS ON RUSSIA at the 78th Venice International Film Festival
FOCUS ON RUSSIA at the 78th Venice International Film Festival: Russia and Italy relaunch the dialogue on cooperation
From 4 to 6 September, a series of events FOCUS ON RUSSIA took place as a part of the business program of the 78th Venice International Film Festival – Venice Production Bridge –with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Culture of Italy, ROSKINO, ANICA SERVIZI and Istituto Luce Cinecittà. For the first time the festival became a platform of professional Russian-Italian communication at the industry level. The parties discussed new measures of state support in both countries, opportunities of non-governmental financing, trends on the international co-production market, an experience of Russia and Italy in coproduction, a new role of VOD-platforms in global distribution of content and their potential for promotion of coproduction projects.
CO-PRODUCTION: NEW OPPORTUNITIES
The main topics of FOCUS ON RUSSIA were co-production strategies, investments between Russia and Italy and Russia’s domestic content market from the perspective of international collaboration. However, the geographical distance, the lack of a systematic dialogue and the lack of transparency of the Russian market made the co-production difficult. Now the situation is changing: the representatives of Italian industry see openness to the partnership of Russian colleagues as well as measures of state support of the co-production in Russia.
Svetlana Maximchenko, Head of the Department of Cinema at the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation: «Today, Russia is an attractive partner on the world market in terms of co-production. First of all, since 2019 the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation supports minority co-production; this year we’ve already received 12 applications for co-production, two of them are projects in partnership with Italy. I hope that next year there will be more applications. Secondly, there are private funds working in Russia, for instance, KINOPRIME, which also supports co-production. Besides that, Russia is integrated into the international co-production market and is a member of European fund Eurimage since 2011. We also have bilateral co-production agreements with eight countries including Italy. At the same time, our main asset is talents – producers, directors, actors; many of them participate in the Venice Film Festival this year. We are happy to invite Italian producers and filmmakers in Russia to participate in different wide-scale professional events like, for example, the Russian content market KEY BUYERS EVENT. I am glad that FOCUS ON RUSSIA program marks the beginning of the professional dialogue between our countries».
Evgenia Markova, ROSKINO CEO: «The business program initiated by ROSKINO in partnership with ANICA SERVIZI was eventful and fruitful, it became the first dialogue between our industry representatives for many years and judging by the feedback and enthusiasm of Russian and Italian colleagues we succeeded in laying the foundation of strong relations and planning the steps of future interaction. I am happy that this program is organized in the moment when Russian producers are ready for the cooperation with Italy and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation initiates a large-scale program of co-production support. We have a rich history of Russian-Italian relations in the field of cinematography and we hope that this interaction will contribute to the revival of the cooperation. I would like to express my special thanks to the colleagues from ANICA SERVIZI for their instant reaction to our initiative of organizing the dialogue of industries precisely at the platform of the Venice Film festival».
The readiness of Italian filmmakers for the joint production with international partners is backed up by the new support measures of the Italian government. In 2021, there are almost 700 million euro allocated to the support of the industry. Tax credits temporarily increased during the pandemic from 30 to 40%, are now officially fixed at this level. The support of minority co-production also works – this year there are 5 million euro are allocated for coproduction. All these measures motivate Italian producers to increase the number of projects including co-production.
Russian and Italian producers were unanimous in their opinion that the key factor of the success of any co-production project is universal, breathtaking stories.
Alexander Rodnyansky, Producer, Founder of AR Content: «We are living in the era of the content revolution. The model of centralized distribution of Hollywood films around the world no longer works. Today we see a large number of film and TV series producers placing their content on the global platforms. Moreover, the competition among platforms is growing, there is a struggle for content. The formula “Content is the king” today is 100 percent true. We must enter the global market with unique, interesting stories about time, people, and their way of life. The world audience watch series from Israel, France, Germany, Turkey, the USA, and Mexico with pleasure; Russian series also reach the top in terms of views on international platforms. This proves that quality content is actually important – stories should resonate in the heart, they should entertain, evoke empathy, emotions».
The representatives of Italian film industry told that the co-production of series is important because Russia is a strong series maker today. At the same time, there is a big potential for co-production in animation segment, and Italy could be not only a co-producer, but also a promotion platform for animation created in coproduction – today there are more than 20 channels for children and teenagers in Italy. Besides that, last few years the state support of this sector grew considerable – tax credits are 40%, there is also a support of co-production projects: Italy successfully works with France, Germany, and India.
Yuliana Slashcheva, Chairman of the Board for the Association of Animation Film Industry, Chairman of the Board at Soyuzmultfilm Studio, CEO of the Gorky Film Studio: «We are extremely interested in co-production with Italian studios and producers. We already have a certain expertise and the experience of cooperation with French companies, now are working on two projects created in our studio and highly rated by our French partners – Cyber Group. Thanks to the international cooperation we gain new experience and the understanding of co-production mechanisms Taking into consideration our experience with France, we are ready to work with Italian partners. We have some projects for children of 8-12 years – there is a certain lack of content in this age segment in Russia, in contrast to Europe where there are many TV channels for teenagers – we see a big development potential in this field, in co-production as well. Speaking about content, we are following the latest trends and paying more attention to the social problems, topics of ecology, tolerance».
Artem Vasilyev, Founder and General Producer of Metrafilms also spoke about co-production in the segment of animation for adults: “This sector is actively developing in Russia and we are ready to discuss the topic of co-production with Italian partners. In addition, we are developing the genre of animation horror based on Russian literature and fairytales. Generally, co-production in animation has a lot of perspectives – besides that, there are several countries involved in the process, the work is technically easier. At the moment we are working in co-production with Poland, Japan, Ireland, and Canada”.
NEW ROLE OF VOD PLATFORMS
During the business program, at the VOD Market Day, Evgenia Markova, CEO of ROSKINO, presented the market of Russian online-services and their new role in the promotion of the content. Today in Russia, there are more than 20 platforms with the audience of 63 million users. Russian online-services follow global trends and offer the audience the impact content.
As the participants of the discussion highlighted creating unique and original content is an important trend today. This content increases the audience’s interest in VOD platforms. At the same time, the difference of European approach to the content and interaction with the audience is in the localization: European online-services are paying more attention to subtitles and dubbing. Another trend is the integration of platforms in the ecosystems.
Moreover, the competition between the platforms is growing: today European online services are concerned about the arrival of world VOD giants at their markets, and they need new tools to fight for their audience.
In general, the digital distribution of the content is making easier its world promotion and interaction with world audience today. That is why the partnership with VOD-platforms and their participation in the co-production process is at the top of the agenda for content makers.
About Russian presence at the Venice International Film Festival
A film by Natasha Merkulova and Alexei Chupov «Captain Volkonogov Escaped» co-produced by Russia, France and Estonia was selected in the main competition. In the Orizzonti Extra section, Russia is represented by «Mama, I’m Home» by Vladimir Bitokov. A documentary film by Nastia Korkia GES-2 will be a part of special screenings. Also, during the Venice International Film Critic’s Week which is a parallel event to the main festival the audience will see Detours (Obkhodniye Puti) – a project by Ekaterina Selenkina included in the programme by the Union of Italian Film Critics (SNCCI).
Besides that, a project by Russian directors Denis Semionov and Georgy Molodtsov, an interactive VR-project «Knight of The Wailing Stars» co-produced by Russia, France and Italy, was presented at the Venice Gap-Financing Market.
Moreover, there is an international co-production project in the festival’s program with Russian producer onboard. It is Italian movie «Atlantide» by Yuri Ancarani. The general producer is Rafael Minasbekyan.
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