Meanwhile, Russia pulls the plug on its co-development fund with Germany.

Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has announced plans to transform national support for the film industry into a revolving fund, increasing investment into film production by 100% by 2017.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow reviewing the “smooth reform” of state support for cinema introduced last year, Medinsky said that, as from 2014, the proportion of the film funding budget distributed between the Ministry of Culture and the Russian Cinema Fund would increase for the latter to 60% “and maybe even more.”

He stressed that the most important principle in future would be to see revenues flowing back to the Cinema Fund from successful productions so that they could “increase the overall amount of money we invest in the film industry.” According to Medinsky’s calculations, this would mean that the $22.9m (760m Rubles) would be recouped by the Fund from 2013’s productions and $36m (1.2 bn Rubles) this year.

By the end of 2016/beginning of 2017, he forecast that the Cinema Fund could then have an “ideal model of financing” with twice the size of its current budget of $90,000 (3m Rubles), 50% coming from the state and 50% as part of the revolving fund of recoupments from supported productions.

Stalingrad’s snub from Oscar shortlist
At the same time, Medinsky commented on the omission of Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Stalingrad from the Oscars’ long list in the Foreign Language Film category. ¨I said from the very beginning to Fydor Sergeivich: ‘You can’t hope for anything.’¨ because the film didn’t make any mention of the Americans’ Lend Lease Act, pay any attention to the USA’s role in the victory over the Nazis and the choice of actors wasn’t ‘sufficiently politically correct’. The Oscars are “an extremely politicised affair,” he added.

Russia pulls plug on German-Russian Co-Development Fund
Medinsky’s optimism was slightly clouded by the news that the Russian Ministry of Culture had decided to pull the plug on its involvement in the German-Russian Co-Development Fund.

The Fund, which had been one of the key elements of the Russian Cinema Fund’s international department’s activities, had been set up during Moscow Business Square in June 2011 with Germany’s FFA and the regional funds Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and MDM to support collaboration between German and Russian producers on the development of projects with distribution potential in both territories.

Funding had been awarded to such projects as Alexey Uchitel’s The Stockholm Syndrome, Alexander Mindadze’s Lieber Hans, Dorogoj Peter, Bakur Bakuradze’s The General and the German-Russian comedy Antalyagrad.

However, after only 18 months, the fund’s future looked bleak a year ago when the Cinema Fund’s international department was closed down (its head Sergei Tolstikov has since become a member of the supervisory board along with Fyodor Bondarchuk and Stefan Arndt at the German-Russian A Company).

Moreover, the German funders had told ScreenDaily during 2013 that the fund was “on ice” and hoped that it could continue its activities once the Ministry of Culture’s programme of restructuring had been completed and new contact persons were appointed.

The official announcement shortly before Christmas of Russia’s decision to withdraw its participation came as a disappointment to the German funders who nevertheless pointed out that “in spite of this development”, German-Russian projects can of course be submitted to their regular funding programmes.

Russian Academy unveils Eagles nominations
The Russian Oscar entry Stalingrad, the ice hockey drama Legend No. 17 and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity are among the nominated films unveiled by Russia’s National Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its 2013 Golden Eagle awards.

Legend No. 17, starring Danila Kozlovsky, attracted 12 nominations ranging from Best Film and Best Direction through those for acting performances to such technical categories as sound, editing and production design.

The comedy Gorko! followed with nine nominations, while Alexander Veledinsky’s festival favourite The Geographer Who Drank His Globe Away and Fyodor Bondarchuk’s 3D war drama Stalingrad clinched six nominations apiece.
Stalingrad was the most successful local film at the Russian box office in 2013 with 6.1m admissions and $51.8m takings, while Legend No. 17 posted 4.2m and $ 29.5m and Gorko! 3.7m and $25.5m, respectively.

Meanwhile, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, and Argo were nominated from a list of 18 titles for the category of the best foreign film released in Russian cinemas between November 2012 and October 2013. All three films had been distributed in Russia by Karo Premier.

The winners of the 2013 Golden Eagles awards will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Mosfilm studios in Moscow on Jan 29.