Relations between the German and Russian film industries have been given a boost at this week's FilmFestival Cottbus - Festival of European Cinema.

At the opening ceremony, Germany's Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier voiced his support for a German-Russian co-production treaty, saying that negotiations should be brought to a swift conclusion.

He also announced his support for the creation of a German-Russian Master Class in the state of Brandenburg in 2009 for young producers, directors and screenwriters from both countries.

The German Federal Film Board's CEO Peter Dinges suggested that Steinmeier's presence in Cottbus 'will be a boost for the conclusion of a co-production treaty. For a long time, progress had been flagging because of administrative reasons on both sides and the restructuring at the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.'

Dinges pointed out that talks on a German-Russian co-production treaty had been ongoing for the past six years but that: 'now there is movement because of interest in the industry for an agreement to be concluded. Steinmeier and [State Minister of Culture] Neumann have recognised the relevance of collaboration between the two countries and the significance of the Russian market.'

Kirsten Niehuus, CEO of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, added that it would be her 'greatest wish that the treaty can be signed at the Berlinale next February.'

This year's festival includes a Russian day, screening highlights of recent productions including Lara Isayeva's Antisex and Reso Gigineishvili's Heat. A roundtable with leading industry figures from Germany and Russia will also take place.

'We want Cottbus to become a platform for German-Russian film relations,' said festival director Roland Rust.

The roundtable's participants included producers Jens Meurer (The Last Station), Karsten Stöter (Yuri's Day), producer-director Mikhail Kalatozishvili (Wild Field), Olga Myasnikova of the film department of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, and FIPRESCI president Andrei Plakhov.