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18 Mar, 2008 03:05

Russian films go global

Over the last five years Russia's film-making industry has been on the rise. The financially healthy business is now luring international investors and producers looking to gain ground in the rapidly developing market.

Only a couple years ago Russian films were barely distributed abroad.

There were honourable exceptions, like Mikhalkov’s Oscar-winning “Burnt by the Sun”. Now that has changed with big-budget films like The Wolfhound, Night Watch and Day Watch being sold to more than 30 countries, sparking international interest in the Russian film industry.
At the last Berlin film market, Central Partnership, a leading Russian production and distribution company alone sold ten films to Europe and Asia.

Russian production companies aim to attract international investors to spread risks and gain better access to foreign markets. Western companies on the other hand seek the vast potential of Russia's film industry to launch international co-productions. Traditionally, they are lured by a cheaper costs, exotic sites and unique landscapes.

Rinat Davletyarov, a well-known film producer is shooting his latest movie in Moscow. “Services in the film industry meet European standards. There is a price difference between making a movie in Russia and in Europe, but it is not as substantial as it used to be. It is certainly not like going to a banana republic and hiring aborigines for beads,” he said.
The fact some Russian producers and actors are becoming well known, also attracts some well-known studios.

However, obstacles remain. There is no legislative base to co-ordinate co-production projects. The royalty issue is not regulated. Also there is a stereotype that dealing with Russian film companies is somehow risky. In the past, some companies did overprice their services, but with recent successful projects and sky-rocketing revenues from successful movies, international joint projects are gaining ground.