Org will help open Russian doors

Commission wants to entice more international cooperation

CANNES -- The Russia film industry is opening itself to the wider world with plans to establish a national film commission based on similar European bodies such as Film France.

The goal of the new commission is to attract more international productions to shoot in Russia and to smooth the way for pan-national co-productions. Alexey Sokhnev from the Russian Ministry of Culture told THR the commission will move "to establish co-operations between regions in Russia and European regional film funds, such as the German funds," a move that would allow co-pros to tap funding both inside and outside Moscow.

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"The commission would make a huge difference," said veteran producer Karl Baumgartner of Germany's Pandora Film. "At the moment, Moscow's criteria to qualify for state funding are very strict and it is incredibly difficult for an international production to access those funds."

Though it had a strong national film industry, Russia is not a location of choice for many international productions. Bureaucratic red tape and Russia's lack of a tax-incentive for visiting productions are two of the main reasons.

"We want to work for a law that, for example, would allow visiting productions to claim back value-added-tax on expenses from Russian shoots," Sokhnev said, "and we will work with producers to maneuver the bureaucracy, getting film permits and so on."

Initially, the regions of St. Petersburg, Sverdlorsk, Vladivostok, Vologada and the Tver Region will participate in the commission, which hopes to launch this summer. More of Russia's 83 administrative regions are expected to join in the coming year.
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