EXCLUSIVE: Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has closed deals for four titles to be theatrically released in Brazil.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily during this week’s Rio Film Festival, Media Luna’s Ida Martins revealed that Renata de Almeida of Filmes da Mostra has picked up Stijn Coninx’s Marina, based on the childhood memories of the Italian-Belgian singer Rocco Granata, and Diederik Ebbinge’s feature film debut Matterhorn which premiered in Rotterdam where it won the Audience Award.

In addition, Alberto Levy’s new distribution outfit CAFCO Films - Cicurel Art Films acquired Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s Chaika, which competed in San Sebastian’s New Directors competition last year, and Antoinette Beumers’ American-set road movie Jackie, starring Holly Hunter and Carice van Houten.

The two deals had been initiated by Media Luna’s Carolina Jessula.

Martins, who recently added Jan Verheyen’s The Verdict to her sales lineup, was in Rio representing three films screening in the festival programme: Bettina Blumner’s Broken Glass Park, Nejc Gazvoda’s Karlovy Vary title Dual, and Argentine director Marco Berger’s Hawaii.

Moscow Showcase

Media Luna New Films will also be one of ten sales agents participating in European Film Promotion’s (EFP) first European film showcase to be held in Moscow from October 23-27 under the banner of Westwind.

Media Luna’s Sophie Colom will be presenting the Dutch film Matterhorn which won the Audience Award at the Moscow International Film Festival in July.

Other sales agents attending the event include Italy’s Intramovies (Vincent Lannoo’s In The Name Of The Son and Maciej Pieprzyca’s Life Feels Good), The Match Factory (David Wnendt’s Wetlands), Reel Suspects (Brendan Muldowney’s Love Eternal), Beta Cinema (Uberto Pasolini’s Still Life) and First Hand Films (documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction).

The screenings at Moscow’s 35mm cinema will be accompanied by a series of industry roundtable and networking events.

Looking ahead to Westwind’s launching, some sales agents and distributors are bullish about the potential for European films on the Russian market.

According to Beta Cinema’s Tassilo Hallbauer, his company has had “a good experience in Russia in recent years, not only with bigger productions, family entertainment or comedies, but also with arthouse films. However there is still a lot more potential and unfulfilled demand in the Russian market, especially for European films.”

EFP also cited Russian distributor Igor Lebedev of Caravella DDC, who suggested that many European films had the chance to receive „100+ print theatrical distribution geared at a wider audience“  over and above a handful of festival screenings. “Hopefully, this initiative can help single out such projects,” Lebedev said.

However, it remains to be seen whether this optimism is well placed.

A different perspective was outlined at another MEDIA-supported event during Locarno’s Step In in August when the focus was on the challenges facing independent distribution - and specifically arthouse cinema - in Russia.

Sergei Nekrasov of VolgaFilm, which distributes in Russia, CIS and the Baltics, described independent distribution in Russia as “a case of Russian roulette” and noted that “people of 35 and above are not going to the cinema anymore. They prefer internet trackers, TV or home entertainment, and you can hardly see them in the cinemas unless it is a big Russian event film.”

“The core audience of the Russian market at the moment is 16-21 years,” he added, pointing out that “there is a different perception of what arthouse films are in Russia compared to other European territories. We consider The Artist or The Master to be arthouse. At the same time, we released Camille Claudel 1915 which was Bruno Dumont’s highest grossing film in Russia – with $30,000.”

Moreover, Alexandra Ternovskaya of Cinema Prestige remarked at the Locarno event that “people [in Russia] don’t want to see serious films, they go to the cinema for entertainment and leisure.”