Journey to get treaty created has been more than 10 years.

Producers in Germany and Russia will now be clinking the vodka glasses in celebration at the news that the German-Russian Co-Production Treaty has at long last become reality.

An agreement on “cooperation in the audiovisual field” was signed by Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the Russian Federation’s Culture Minister Alexander Avdeev in the presence of Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Dmitry Medvedev at this week’s Petersburg Dialogue inter-governmental consultations in Hannover.

Speaking to ScreenDaily from this week’s Odessa International Film Festival, producer Simone Baumann, who is also German Films’ Eastern Europe representative and the German chairperson of the German-Russian Film Academy, explained that the journey to this week’s signing ceremony had lasted “over ten years.”

It was in part due to the snail-like progress of negotiations on the treaty that the German-Russian Film Academy was established in summer 2009 to provide a forum for lobbying and promoting closer links between the two countries’ film industries.

Indeed, the Film Academy played an important role in the preparations for the German-Russian Co-Development Agreement which was signed by the Russian Cinema Fund with three German film funds (FFA, MDM and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg) in Moscow three weeks ago.

Having the co-production treaty finally in place will now provide the formal framework for a relationship which has already seen German and Russian producers collaborating on such films as Mongol, The Last Station, Another Saturday, and Baikonur.

Moreover, this year’s Locarno Film Festival will host the world premiere of another German-Russian co-production, Achim von Borries’ Second World War drama 4 Days In May, produced by X Filme Creative Pool with lead actor Alexey Guskov’s Moscow-based production company ZAO Studio FAF, screening on the Piazza Grande.

In fact, as the Russian Cinema Fund’s statistics show, Germany was the leading foreign partner for co-productions with Russia between 2006-2010, leading the field with participation in 11 of the 46 minor or major co-productions during this period, followed by France (9) and Ukraine (8), among others.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the European Producers Club (EPC) has revealed that AR Films’ Alexander Rodnyansky is the first producer from Russia to become a member of this hallowed circle of key European industry players.

This week also saw EPC welcome another seven new members from Germany and France into its ranks: Golden Bear winner Johannes Rexin (Heimatfilm), Mischa Hofmann (Odeon Film), Oliver Berben (Constantin Film), Ilan Goldman (Légende), Marc Lacan (Pathé), Marc Missonnier (Fidelité) and Leonard Glowinski (StudioCanal).