Leaders of the national Film Industry discussed international Cooperation

On November 14, the first day of the Forum, a Panel Discussion 'Russia in the World Film Market' took place as part of the Section 'Cinema' in the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum.

Film experts and representatives of the industry discussed specificities of promotion of the Russian content abroad and development strategy for international co-production cooperation. Participants of the discussion also spoke about the Russia's position on the global film market, projects that form a new brand of the Russian cinema, and the way Russia should be presented to foreigners on the screen.

The discussion was attended by Fyodor Bondarchuk, film director, producer, actor and Head of the Section 'Cinema'; Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation; Pavel Stepanov, Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation; Evgeniya Dalnichenko, Project Manager for Support of Export of Russian Creative Industries of the Russian Export Centre (REC); Yuliana Slashcheva, Chairperson of the Management Board of the Animation Film Association and the Soyuzmultfilm animation studio; Evgenia Markova, Director for Industrial Relations of Expocontent; Valery Kupeev, Head of the Russian Office of Film Commissioners, and Du Liang, Producer of Amrita, distributor of Russian films in China (PRC).

Today, the world film and entertainment industry is enjoying the unprecedented boom: film economy globalization brings international box office success and co-production to the forefront; streaming services are at the peak of their popularity, and the content no longer needs to be in English. Therefore, in the nearest future Russia may become a new world-class content provider. Сontemporary national filmmakers already create projects that deserve awards of prestigious film festivals.

'We can actually see a positive trend from one market to the other: we are considered not as separated actors, but as the industry which is able to provide high-quality products. We receive such feedback from both media and buyers. Within the country companies are not always friendly to each other, but the volume of the market we are called to conquer is so huge that it's reasonable to show a united front. And I think, this year the industry has come together as never before,' Evgenia Markova, Director for Industrial Relations of Expocontent, shared.

Fyodor Bondarchuk told about achievements of the Russian cinema on the global arena and shared his opinion regarding peculiarities of sales of large-scale projects:

'It's important not to sell, but to present films, because all buyers want to see participation of the artist, his or her personal attitude, emotional engagement. When you believe in the project, when you fight for it and recommend how to arrange marketing in the best possible way, it's noted.'

The national film industry is preparing for implementation of the federal system of rebates (tax repayments) from film production, which may make Russia a new world production centre. Participants of the discussion gave consideration to the methods of raising foreign investments using the new system.

'A rebate program enables economic growth-rate. To provide new workplaces in the country it's necessary to support the business which can create them. Foreign customers will partly arrange filming on the territory of our country, and the Russian contractor will hire people and create workplaces. It enables development of both cinema and film tourism,' Evgeniya Dalnichenko, Project Manager for Support of Export of Russian Creative Industries of the Russian Export Centre (REC), noted.

A new system and the state support of film production were also addressed by Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation.

'The goal of the Ministry of Culture is to create conditions and organize control. We provide subsidies - that's what the Cinema Fund is for. We create legislative conditions, introducing rebates in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development. I think this is our common great victory. Business will take it from there. We have quite a competitive industry, we make high-quality films from the technical point of view, but since the times of the USSR we have not done too well selling our products abroad. We can create a high-quality product that will never be repaid if it is intended for the home market only. We must enter foreign markets: we have 100% potential for that. This has not only economic but political meaning for us as well - we must demonstrate our country. Introduction of the rebate system is useful in every sense, but it is mostly export of our country's image, presentation of its unique locations,' the Vladimir Medinsky noted.

'To make rebates work they must be sold correctly and promoted abroad: a proper explanation in the language of filmmakers is required, as well as assistance of film commissions and arrangement of meetings to demonstrate what Russia is like in terms of production. Why is Russia attractive for foreign film producers? There's a well-developed film industry - there are groups that can work speaking both English and Chinese in Russia. And locations, of course. Undoubtedly, there are locations in Russia, but the problem is to gain access to them. Another factor is state support. It's not about funds, but about moral support. The state is interested in development of international cooperation. The last factor is the cost of production. In Russia film production is 3.5 times cheaper than in Europe. Russia is highly competitive in the international market of film industry in this matter,' Valery Kupeev, Head of the Russian Office of Film Commissioners, added.

Yuliana Slashcheva, Chairperson of the Management Board of the Animation Film Association and the Soyuzmultfilm animation studio, told about prospects of the rebate system in animation:

'I think animation rebates have a great potential and excellent opportunities, because animation develops all across the world, and countries that are leaders in field of animation, where studios are overwhelmed and resources for production are not enough, produce a lot and locate production abroad. Russia has a prospect of attracting large animation production companies. We expect such projects to take place at our studio next year already. At least one international project will be located at the Soyuzmultfilm animation studio. Due to exchange-values of rouble and dollar animation production costs even less here than in most countries. If a part of expenses are repaid, I think, some large animation powers, such as Canada or France, will locate production in Russia,' Yuliana Slashcheva shared.

Participants of the discussion also gave consideration to international co-production. The issue of cooperation in field of filmmaking between Russia and China was covered by Du Liang, distributor of Russian films in China.

'The current foreign policy of Russia and China helps us in our cooperation. Still, if it's politics that works, it means we work in the commercial area poorly. To enter our market Russian films need Chinese script writers, a good director and one Chinese producer - people who understand Chinese audience well. Our film market is specific, one must have a gust of it. There were times when Hollywood films were popular in China, but today in the atmosphere of some conflict with the USA, people's attitude has changed.

We have promising future: the Chinese market is just opening for Russian films. And I'm glad to hear news about rebates - we are also interested in cooperation with Russia, and we would like to film here. I really hope that in five years Russian films will become a brand in China, and Chinese viewers will like Russian actors and actresses. However, there are still many problems to be solved,' Du Liang concluded.