Ateliers du Cinéma Européen co-production lab showcases nine projects including Monet’s Water Garden and Siberian train movie Sarma.

Russian and French producers met up in the French capital this week for a co-production lab organized by the Paris-based Ateliers du Cinéma Européen (ACE).

The initiative is the first co-production meeting organized by ACE in connection with the French-Russian Film Academy, aimed at fostering film industry cooperation, since its launch in Saint Petersburg last July.

“The idea of this lab is not necessarily just to achieve co-production deals but to foster contacts between French and Russian producers,” explained Ronan Girre [pictured], ACE chief executive and head of studies.

Alongside a pitching session, Oleg Berezin, managing director of Russian distributor Neva Film, talked about the distribution market in Russia and producer Igor Mishin discussed about fund raising there.

Paris-based producer Catherine Dussart of CDP shared her experiences producing Pavel Lungin’s 2005 feature Poor Relatives and Michel Zana of French distributor Sophie Dulac unveiled the company’s strategy for the upcoming release of Alexandr Sokurov’s Faust in France next week.

A total of nine projects were pitched, many of them combining French and Russian elements.

Siberia-based producer Nikolay Bem presented French filmmaker Robin Dimet’s train movie Sarma, about two students — one French, the other Iranian – who mistakenly take a train from Moscow to Siberia.

Bem, who operates under the Siberian Studio of Independent Cinema, previously co-produced Alexandr Kuznetsov’s creative feature documentary Territory of Love with French Co-Kiné.

Yelena Yatsura of Moscow-based In Motion, whose recent credits include Aleksandr Gordon’s Brothel Lights and Nikolay Khomerikis’ sci-fi thriller Belyaev, pitched Transition, which she described as a road movie with a twist.

Pre-production has begun on the film co-starring Dinara Drukarova and Oskana Fandera. It is due to shoot in September.

The French projects included Remi Chayé’s feature-length animation Longway North about a young Russian aristocratic who defies her parents to become an Artic explorer like her grandfather, being produced by Paris-based Sacrebleu Productions. 

The €8m project has already acquired the backing of France’s National Cinema Centre as well as Canal+ and French distributor Diaphana.

“The story takes place in Saint Petersburg and later in the North Pole region which is why we think it could be of interest to Russian partners,” said Sacrebleu founding head Ron Dyens.

Nathalie Mesuret of Blue Monday Productions presented A Free World about a young French woman working as election observer for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan.

“Films about democracy struggles are very popular and topical right now… I think this project could be of interest to Russian producers,” commented Yatsura.

Paris-baed Lucas Rosant of Mandras Films pitched Mongolian Byamba Sakhya’s tale of unrequited love Remote Control, set in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator and revolving around a runaway boy.

“Mongolian films are rare these days. Since the collapse of the Mongol Kino studios in the 1990s there is practically no funding so it is difficult to get films off the ground,” commented Mandras.

Ilan Girard of Arsam International, who previously collaborated with Russian producers on Goodbye Bafana and White Lilacs, presented Chantal Picault’s Monet, The Water Garden which is due to star Gérard Depardieu as the legendary impressionist painter.

“I know that there is no Russian element here but I know there is a great appreciation for Monet’s art in Russia which makes the think there could be some interest… I’ve also worked with Russian producers in the past and would like to build on this,” commented Girard during his presentation.