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Russian producers head to Berlin with new projects from Seidler and Lungin, Bondarchuk and Bekmambetov

EXCLUSIVE: The King’s Speech writer David Seidler working on adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s Queen of Spades with Pavel Lungin attached to direct.

The Russian Cinema Fund (RCF) is heading to Berlin’s EFM as the umbrella organisation for seven of the biggest Russian production and distribution outfits, including Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Production and Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Art Pictures Studio.

Included on Art Pictures’ slate is a David Seidler adaptation of iconic Russian author Alexander Pushkin’s short story Queen of Spades, which has Pavel Lungin attached to direct, and Bondarchuk’s big-budget World War II action Stalingrad.

Seidler’s script, currently in early development, is a contemporary reimagining of Pushkin’s 1833 morality tale which recounts the story of a Russian officer who goes mad in an attempt to uncover the secret behind a money-spinning card cheat.

The film is set to feature music from Russian composer Tchaikovsky, who based his 1890 opera on the short story. Acclaimed director Lungin is a three-time Palme d’Or nominee whose most recent title is 2009 drama Tsar about the ruthless reign of 16th Century despot Ivan The Terrible.

Art Pictures will be looking for co-producers on the project which has an estimated budget of around €12m.

Bondarchuk is currently directing Stalingrad, a $30m 3D war drama about one of the major battles of WWII. Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergei Melkumov and Dmitri Rudovskiy produce alongside Bondarchuk. August Diehl is among the film’s cast, which has been kept under wraps.

Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Productions will bring a number of staff to Berlin and will be screening recently completed titles including New Year’s Eve-set omnibus comedy Yolki 2 (Bekmambetov directs one section and produces) and kidnap thriller The Orphan (Kamen), Vyacheslav Kaminskiy’s debut which has been among the top five films at the Russian box office since release on Jan 19.

Animation studio Wizart Animation will be introducing buyers to 3D animations Sheep’n‘Wolves and The Snow Queen, which it hopes to complete production on this summer.

Other companies coming to Berlin under the Cinema Fund banner include Central Partnership, Riki Group and representatives from Russian television and radio companies.

On February 8 the RCF will meet with representatives of the three primary German state funding bodies and German producers signed up to the German-Russian Co-Development Fund with the body’s funding decisions to be announced at the RCF’s stand on Feb 10.

Also at the EFM, the administrative council of the French-Russian Film Academy will meet to decide its funding decisions and programme for the next General Assembly of the Academy which will take place during this year’s Moscow Business Square.

The RCF will also take part in the EFM co-production market and make a presentation about the Fund’s 2012 remit and activities on February 13.

The RCF, headed by executive director Sergei Tolstikov, took over from the Ministry of Culture as the lead source of state film funding in Russia in 2010, with one of the Fund’s primary ambitions to grow the country’s seven leading production and distribution entities. Elena Romanova heads the RCF’s international department, which launched in early 2011.

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