The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation is to create a government-sponsored, non-commercial organisation for the promotion of the Russian cinema abroad.

The move – announced in Cannes this week – comes as Russia’s increasingly bullish film industry seeks to heighten its profile in the international marketplace.

The new organisation, which will grow out of the existing Sovexportfilm, aims to combine government and private financial support to create events and activities in several countries around the world to support the industry and its creative talent.

The body will expand on Sovexportfilm’s current mandate: to foster international cooperation in the cinema sphere, and will provide support to Russian films and film-makers for major film festivals and distribution markets starting in 2010.

“Russia is in the midst of its second successful year at the Cannes International Film Festival, and we feel the time is right to establish an official organization to build on the success that the Russian Pavilion is having here,” commented Aleksandr Golutva, First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation and Head of the Cinema Department. “There is more interest than ever in Russian film, and shooting at Russian locations, and this new organization will provide a coordinated and targeted program for increasing that interest internationally.”

Initially, the new outfit will be funded by the Ministry of Culture, out of its budget for film festivals and the “Days of Weeks of Russian cinema” event, but in the long run, it is envisaged that local producers and distributors will take over the financing of the organization.

The Ministry of Culture is also planning to set up a new, internal organisation to encourage film and TV shoots in  Russia.