“Revolutionary” change to guidelines making projects with non-European directors eligible, collaboration between European Producers Club and Russian Cinema Fund

Georgia is set to become the 36th member of the Council of Europe’s pan-European co-production fund by the end of this year.

Speaking at this week’s Moscow Business Square, Eurimages executive director Roberto Olla said that the fund’s board of management had greenlit Georgia’s accession and the diplomatic paperwork was now being done so that it could “hopefully” become a member as early as September, but “definitely by the end of the year.”

He pointed out that Georgia’s membership of Eurimages would be “a great opportunity” now for Russian and Georgian producers who often work together in co-productions.

Since joining Eurimages in March, Russia has been involved to date in one funded project — the Polish majority co-production Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s Poklosie, to be produced by Apple Film Production with Russia’s Metrafilms and Slovakia’s Attack Film — but Olla said that he had had meetings during this week’s Moscow Co-Production Forum about potential projects for submission that would have majority Russian participation.

At the same time, Eurimages‘ Russian national representative Leonid Demchenko noted that three Russian films – Elena, Euphoria, and How I Ended This Summer - had received distribution support earlier this month for theatrical releases in France, Romania and Hungary.

Meanwhile, Olla revealed that a policy meeting of the fund during its Helsinki meeting had decided to modify the Eurimages regulations from 2012 to allow projects with a non-European director to be eligible for funding.

Describing the policy move as “a bit of a revolution,” he said that this would mean, for example, that from next year a German-Italian co-production could then have a director coming from, say, China or India attached to a project applying for Eurimages support.

In addition, the Russian Cinema Fund (RCF) and the Paris-based European Producers Club (EPC) signed an agreement to collaborate on fostering the co-production of European and Russian films.

Elena Romanova, head of RCF’s International Department, and Alexandra Lebret, EPC’s managing director, spoke exclusively to ScreenDaily about the venture which will concentrate on mainstream feature film projects in the budget range of €1m to € 20m.

While Romanova will be identifying Russian projects with international potential which are needing European partners, Lebret would be selecting projects with Russian elements from EPC members that would lend themselves to a co-production with Russia.

As part of the collaboration, EPC will organise a meeting for the Russian and European projects at the co-production forum in Rome this autumn as well as a co-production workshop during next February’s Berlinale.

“Such a collaboration is important because Russian producers don’t know about the procedures for getting European financing support and they don’t understand the various tax incentives,” Lebret said. “Similarly, the Europeans need to get to know more about the Russian market. This is where such a venture can play such a useful role.”

In fact, the two partners already started their collaboration this week with the invitation of National Film and Television School (NFTS) graduate Tatiana Korol’s €1m feature film Passing Clouds to be piched at the Moscow Business Square.

The bittersweet comedy-drama about a British couple travelling across Russia on the Trans Siberian Express will be produced by Jelena Goldbach and Nik Powell of Scala Productions.

Goldbach – who completed her MA in Film & TV Producing at NFTS this year – and Koriol were interested in meeting potential Russian and German co-producers during their stay in Moscow this week.