Russia’s Cinema Fund Announces Result of Pitching Sessions

Based on experts’ evaluations, selected projects are to receive state cash.

MOSCOW – The Russian Cinema Fund, the country’s main cinema funding agency, has publicized experts’ ratings of projects that participated in pitching sessions held on Aug. 13.

Of 28 projects submitted by the “top 13” major film production companies and pre-selected by an expert council for the pitching sessions, 14 were unanimously supported by a jury of experts.

The best rated projects among those competing for $97 million in non-refundable subsidies, include Baba Yaga and Vychislitel (Calculator) by Fyodor Bondarchuk’s Art Pictures; Matilda by and Alexey Uchitel's Rock Studio, centered on legendary Russian dancer Matilda Kshesinskaya; Viking, an ambitious epic on ancient Russia to be produced by the top television station Channel One, and Privideniye (Ghost) by STV.

Among the least popular projects were Art Pictures’ Barman and Kod Durova (Durov's Code), a story of Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte, a Russian version of Facebook, to be made by Alexander Rodnyansky's Non-Stop Production.

The pitching sessions aimed to introduce more transparency into making decisions about what movies should receive state cash, on which the local film sector heavily depends. Last month, there was a similar move by the culture ministry, which provides financing for art house, debut and children’s films, as opposed to projects with a “commercial potential,” submitted by the majors to the Cinema Fund.

Unlike the culture ministry’s pitching sessions, which were open to the public and the press, those by the Cinema Fund were held behind closed doors. But the experts’ evaluations were immediately published – which wasn’t the case with the culture ministry’s pitchings.

Meanwhile, the introduction of pitching sessions for the Cinema Fund projects was not the only change to the government funding procedure. Previously, the selected major companies just collected cash earmarked for them, equally divided between all of them and had the freedom to spend it on whatever projects they chose.

As a result of the new system, Rekun Cinema by Valery Todorovsky didn’t have any projects in the pitching sessions, as all of the projects it has submitted were rejected by the expert council.

Final decisions on which films are to receive state cash, based on the experts’ evaluations, are to be made by the Cinema Fund’s board of trustees.