German-Russian Co-Development Fund Closes

File photo of Moscow's Red Square

The decision brings to an end 18 months of work and follows a major dip in Russian political enthusiasm for international cooperation.

MOSCOW -- Russian-German cultural relations have suffered a blow with the closure of a co-development fund between the two countries.

The German-Russian Co-Development Fund, founded in June 2011 by regional and national funds that included Berlin-Brandenberg, Leipzig-based MDM, Germany's national FFA film fund and Russia's Kino Fond (Cinema Fund), fell victim to a major shift in political objectives in Moscow.

Germany has been one of the most active European co-production partners for Russia in recent years.

But the closure of the Russian Cinema Fund's international office last January, following the takeover of its functions by the country's culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, scrapped funds earmarked for international productions.

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Medinsky, who had earlier announced that Russian taxpayers' money was better spent on domestic movies, did not rule out contributing to co-productions, but the shift away from cooperative ventures damaged relations.

Announcing the closure Friday, the German funds said in a statement: "The reason for closing the co-development fund is the reorganization of Russian film production, personnel changes and the termination from the Russian side. We regret this, since the co-development fund had just started to produce results, increase production and attract partners from both sides."

Projects from Russian producers could still be submitted for funding in Germany under the "regular programs" of the funds, they added.

Among the projects backed by the co-development fund, which had an annual budget of 150,000 Euros ($205,000), were Alexei Uchitel's Stockholm Syndrome and Bakur Bakuradze's General.