After Italy pact, Russia wants to get closer ties with France, Spain and Germany.

Russia is planning to actively develop co-production with European countries, which is expected to improve the image of national cinema and to increase its popularity abroad.

Recently the Russian State Fund, the organisation responsible for social and economic support of Russian cinema, signed an agreement with Italian state film studio Cinecitta Luce on strengthening joint co-production. Now it seems likely that more similar agreements could be signed with other European countries by the end of 2010.

According to the head of the Fund, Sergei Tolstikov, Russia now hopes to further co-production ties with France, Germany and Spain.

In the case of Germany, an agreement between the two countries on joint film production had been likely to be signed this summer at the Tenth Russian-German forum Petersburg Dialogue. However the partners have decided to postpone it the signing until the end of the year.

According to the German side, this project would provide a good opportunity for young first-time filmmakers to share experience and to establish joint co-production.

However, according to Nikita Mikhalkov, head of Russian Cinematographers’ Union, the project requires more detailed study.

“Cinematography is a business, which is associated with large investments. And in this case there is still unclear what should arise from such an agreement,” he said.

Still, cooperation between Russia and Germany is already under way, thanks to the work of Russian-German Film Academy, which was established last year in Berlin. A similar academy has also been established with France.

In the case of Spain, according to Tolstikov, “no agreements have been signed yet, however Russia considers Spain an important player.”

Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeev said: “Co-production, in most cases, requires less state support. In addition, the co-production projects with the participation of foreign partners usually has a guarantee of quality execution and completion on time.”

Theminister has also not ruled out the possibility of providing state support for some co-production projects, which will chosen based on an assessment of their quality.