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Russian Film Week in the UK 2018: Russian filmmakers presented their projects in London

3 December 2018

RFW Industry Forum organised by Perkon Productions and Rock Films and supported by the Russian Export Center was held during Russian Film Week in the UK on November, 28 and November, 30. Pitching was held on the second day of the program where Russian filmmakers presented their projects to potential partners from England under the Made in Russia brand.

“‘We made it our goal to tell potential foreign partners about film production in Russia, to demonstrate the possibilities of the Made in Russia brand and to find common ground between our countries within the framework of support and development of the film industry. Russian Film Week is not over yet, however, we can already see great prospects with regard to the focus of foreign investors on further cooperation. We are sure that this will lead to a long-term partnership in the future', commented Maria Patrusheva, director of the Made in Russia program and director of special projects and promotion of Russian Export Center.”

The projects in development stage were presented during the first part of the pitching day.

The project which received the most interest was The Deed (Vodorod company). It was presented by the director Alexey Smirnov. The film tells the story of a couple who go through the family crisis after 15 years of marriage. The lead characters Lena and Vova travel to London and become the victims of a terrorist attack. They manage to survive and Lena even saves the life of a young girl. When they come back home, Lena becomes a hero and Vova is called a coward behind his back. Fedor Bondarchuk and Yulia Vysotskaya play the main characters. The budget of the film is $1.9 million. The producers are looking for partners to shoot in London.

“I think that today, despite all the political difficulties it is very important to hold events which promote international cooperation between filmmakers. While selecting projects I chose producers with whom I have worked before. We also invited British filmmakers who have historical ties with Russia. Johnny O'Reilly and Nicholas Rooney presented their projects at the pitching. I am glad that we have The Deed which is being developed by Vodorod company. I brought the idea of this script by Anastasia Palchikova to Fedor Bondarchuk when I was still working at Art Pictures. The Deed is an ideal co-production example of English reality grounded in the script and not written specifically for the pitching. In addition, I believe in the director Alexey Smirnov. I think he did make an impression on the audience. We really hope that the projects will find their partners because English cinema during the last few years has been incredibly interesting and attractive. And the social processes which take place in the UK, and the themes discussed in the British films echo the Russian ones. I think we have a lot of potential opportunities for fruitful cooperation”, said Anna Gudkova, curator of pitching.

Irina Orkina-Sekste presented the high budget project Paper Birds produced by Sputnik Vostok Production. According to the plot, Marion Hutton, a former star of Miller's Orchestra, decides to set out on a journey to find Glenn Miller who was reported missing and had been officially declared dead 12 years previously. Producers plan to spent $25-32 million. The release of the film is scheduled for 2020.

Johnny O'Reilly, director and producer of The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley, presented the film to potential British partners. During his twelve years in Russia, he created several co-production projects which were released in various countries. His new noir genre work will tell the story of the undertaker Paddy Buckley, who is trying to revive his dead wife in his mind. The budget of the film is $5-10 million.

Lenin was presented by the producer of the film Elena Yatsura. The film talks about Lenin's sojourns in Great Britain, France and Switzerland. The shooting of the film is planned in these countries.

Producer Roman Borisevich presented the project Bird's Milk produced by the Koktebel film company, to the delegates. The film tells the story of a teenager Adriana, who, in search of a better life, is preparing to flee to Europe from Transnistria. The budget is $500,000, $350,000 of which has already been received. The producer expressed confidence in the success of the film at film festivals.

Scriptwriter Kirill Fokin and producer Artem Vitkin presented the science fiction film Fire to potential partners from England. The film will be directed by Valery Fokin, artistic director of Pushkin Russian State Academic Drama Theater (Alexandrinsky Theater). According to the creators, Valery Fokin rarely works in the cinema, but his films are nevertheless popular among viewers.

Also, an adaptation of Lev Tolstoy’s novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich was presented by director Nicholas Rooney. The budget of the film is $5 million. At the completion of the script, a director and executive producers were assigned. Nicholas is looking for investors, co-producers, sales agents and other partners.

The projects in development stage was presented during the second half of the pitching day.

The film Jealousy by Nigina Sayfullaeva was presented by producer Pavel Odynin (Droog Grooga film company). Midwife Lena is tired of her quiet family life. She decides to break bad and tries to regain her sexuality. Participants watched a 20-minute excerpt from the film. The creators are confident that given the increasing campaign for women's rights and #MeToo movement the film may cause serious resonance, both in Russia and abroad.

The film Senafon (Vita Aktiva and 2D Celluloid) tells the story of an old man who cannot recover from the death of the wife and is depressed. The son sends him to Thailand to recuperate where at the age of seventy years Xenophon learns to enjoy life anew. The producer Vasily Solovyov who presented the picture stated that shooting took place in Thailand, and that now the picture is in the post-production stage.

Battle (Rock Films) was of a particular interest the audience. The picture was presented by the producer Alexey Uchitel and the creative producer Anna Shalashina. This dynamic, beautiful film tells the story of a street dancer who, having lost his hearing, learns to listen to the music coming from within.

The sport orientated drama One Breath about a divorced woman who unexpectedly finds a new meaning in life from the sport of freediving was presented by the screenwriter Alyona Alova. Shooting took place in Russia and Malta.

One more inspiring movie about the fate of a strong woman presented within the pitching was Pencil from the film companies Salt and Victoria Film. According to the plot, the artist moves to a remote place to be with her husband who is serving a sentence in a local colony for excessive political activity. She gets a job as an art teacher, and by means of a simple pencil and creativity helps local children to transform their lives.

The presentation of Last Honey Bulgaria which brought the session to a close became the absolute adornment of the pitching. The film tells the story of a young man, in Alma-Ata at the time of the Great Patriotic War who was trying to solve the mystery of the death of a writer, the former resident of the office apartment, and the creator of a variety of apples called "Last Homey Bulgaria". The project was presented by the director Alexey Fedorchenko and the producer Artem Vasilyev.

Summing up the results of the two-day program, the founder of RFW Filip Perkon expressed the need to organise similar events in the future: "Earlier we experimented and combined the industrial program with a production forum and also with networking. So, it is the first fully-fledged cross-cultural forum. I am pleasantly surprised that at a time of political differences and sanctions, representatives of the industries are ready to exchange experiences with each other and aim for cooperation. With time the fruits of our efforts will become apparent. We have sown the seeds of cooperation between Russian and British cinematographers and now have to water them, so that they will grow yet more".

Projects in development:

The Deed / Подвиг
Company: Vodorod
Director: Alexey Smirnov
Writer: Anastasia Palchikova
Producers: Fedor Bondarchuk, Vyacheslav Murugov, Mikhail Vrubel, Alexander Andryushchenko
Actors: Fedor Bondarchuk, Yuliya Vysotskaya
Lena and Vova are middle-aged, but still in love. They have two kids, and still live life to the full. In London, where they come for their 15th wedding anniversary, they get caught up in the middle of a terrorist attack. They manage to get out alive, and Lena even rescues a little girl. When they come home, to everyone, Lena is a hero, and Vova a coward, hiding behind his wife. This will begin to tear the family apart, awakening all problems they had during their marriage, putting their love, self respect and their own selves to a great test. Until, when it is almost too late, Vova regains clarity. To save his family, he has to perform another heroic deed.

Paper Birds / Бумажные птицы
Company: Sputnik Vostok Production
Writer: Alexander Gonorovskiy
Producers: Alex Kessel, Inna Orkina-Sekste
December, 1944. A military aircraft took off from the UK Twinwood air base, however, it never reached its destination. Among the missing was Major Glenn Miller, the greatest big band bandleader of the swing era. In 1956 another plane landed in Budapest with Marion Hutton, a former star of Miller's Orchestra, on board. Hutton came to communist Hungary to find Glenn Miller many years after he had been officially declared dead. Having come to Budapest on the eve of the uprising, Marion was searching for the Soviet Ambassador Yury Andropov, who resembled Glenn Miller.

The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley
Director: Johnny O’Reilly
Writer: Johnny O’Reilly, Jeremy Massey
Producer: Johnny O’Reilly
Desperate to preserve the memory of his recently departed wife, undertaker Paddy Buckley discovers that he can bring her back to life in his mind as long as he stays awake. In this catatonic, sleepless state, he accidentally knocks down and kills Dublin’s most notorious criminal. While the criminal’s mob are mobilized to track down the killer, Paddy finds himself having to arrange the funeral. To alleviate the stress of his circumstance, Paddy gets drunk and has sex with Kate, a recently bereaved customer who dies during orgasm. As his problems mount, Paddy’s wife encourages him to join her by killing himself. A budding romance with Kate’s daughter drags him back from the brink but with the criminal mob closing in, Paddy’s chances of surviving his last four days are rapidly diminishing.

Pigeon's Milk / Молоко Птицы
Writer, director: Eugen Marian
Producers: Roman Borisevich, Alexander Kushaev
Actors: Elena Lyadova, Valeriu Andriuta
A psychological, biographical sketch about a teenage boy, Andrian who lives in a remote village in Moldova and whose life starts to assume a tone of grievous reality – his first love, first vital choice. Shortly before Easter, in search of a better life, Andrian is planning to escape to Europe. He has five days to prepare. In order to pay for the trip, he decides to sell a silver cup belonging to his grandfather. Andrian suspects that his mother is having an affair with the owner of a local poultry farm. Andrian decides to seek revenge so he secretly kills this man’s dog, then thwarts the man’s son Serjiu’s important deal. Serjiu together with his friends seize Andrian and torture him, (apparently accidentally) killing him. Some stray dogs dig Andrian out of his makeshift grave and he revives.

Lenin / Ленин
Writer: Vladimir Sorokin
Producers: Yelena Yatsura, Yuriy Krestinskiy
In world history there might be only a dozen personalities whose accomplishments have changed the course of human history by reshaping views on global borders, political and economic sciences and even philosophy. One of them is Lenin, and he might be the most radical one. Our film is both an investigation and an adventure highlighting the life of a person as part of the human history. Lenin is a politician with autism spectrum disorder, a cyclist, and a lover. He is the celebrity of the age. Almost hundred years after his death, Lenin’s name still invokes controversy around the world. Nevertheless, there is not a single film in world history which would do justice to the scale of events involving Lenin. The goal is to fill the gap.

The Fire / Огонь
Writer: Kirill Fokin
Director: Valery Fokin
Producers: Renat Dalvetiarov, Grigory Podzemelny, Artem Vitkin
Vladimir, a UN official has discovered that world leaders have been in secret contact with aliens. Convinced that his wife’s stillbirth was caused by an alien spaceship hovering above Florida, he tells her everything and she calls him crazy. Vladimir goes to the sea shore to commit suicide but without any obvious reason he returns home just in time to save his wife from a suicide attempt. Several years later Vladimir now one of the top UN experts on extra-terrestrial life, receives an urgent call to participate in a Contact in St. Petersburg. The aliens propose that the world leaders declare universal disarmament. However, the world leaders decide to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the alien spaceships. Vladimir attempts to fly back to Washington to join his wife but he is detained for interrogation. This is the moment when the war starts.

The Death of Ivan Ilych
Writer, director: Nicholas Rooney
Set in late 19th century Russia, this film tells the story of a forty-five year old charismatic lawyer who is self-absorbed, opportunistic, and busy with mundane affairs. He has never considered his own death until disease strikes. Now, as he confronts his mortality, he wonders what his life has meant, whether he has made the right choices, and what will become of him. For the first time he is becoming conscious. Confronting the reality of his death forces him to reflect on the meaning of his life: in death he finds life. The film is a profound, relevant and spiritual exploration accompanied by beautiful music and artful cinematography inspired by 17th century Dutch painting and Japanese Haiku.

Three minutes of silence / Три минуты молчания
Writer: Natalia Meschaninova
Director: Boris Khlebnikov
Producers: Natalia Drozd, Sergey Selyanov
Misha (30) does rotating shifts on a fishing trawler. He has no sense of purpose in life. He’d like to marry and settle down in Murmansk but, having no real determination to do so, he’s back at sea again. As the trawler is hit by a storm and starts to leak, the crew receives an SOS signal from a nearby vessel. Misha disobeys the captain’s orders and leads the rescue mission. The knowledge that others are in greater danger transforms the crew into heroes. For a few hours, life feels real and meaningful. But then, Misha’s trawler returns to a typically bleak Murmansk day of fog and ambiguity.

Work-In-Progress:

Jealousy / Ревность
Company: Droog Drooga
Writer: Lyubov Mulmenko, Nigina Sayfullaeva
Director: Nigina Sayfullaeva
Producers: Sergey Kornikhin, Valeriy Fedorovich, Pavel Odynin
Actors: Evgeniya Gromova, Alexandr Pal
Lena is a respected obstetrician in a provincial coastal town. Her husband Sergey is an actor at the local theatre. They seem to lead a quiet family life, although the romantic period in their relationship seems to be over. Lena is clearly hungry for male attention, intimacy and new erotic experiences. At a particular point, she starts to suspect Sergey of having an affair and decides to exact her revenge by sleeping with several random strangers. Lena struggles with her insecurities and explores her sexuality at the same time. Eventually after a few one-night-stands, she discovers that she was mistaken about her husband. Neither his rediscovered love, nor her work routine can distract her from emotional turbulence. Even more so, she is in for a nasty surprise at work. She recognises the husband of her new client as one of her one-night-stands. Their “acquaintance” is revealed, and Sergey, of course, finds out about Lena’s “adventures”.

Senafon / Сенафон
Company: 2D Celluloid
Writer: Konstantin Charmadov
Director: Evgeny Shelyakin
Producers: Vasily Solovyov, Julia Mishkinene, Yury Khrapov, Anna Peskova Actors: Mihail Gomiashvili, Evgeniya Dmitrieva, Jaray Moenprayoon, Vladimir Mishukov
A man whose youth has long passed and whose name is Xenafont never imagined that life could surprise him. He couldn’t believe that one can enjoy life in full when one is 70 years old. His journey starts when he was found unconscious on a Thai beach. New adventures give way to a new life full of friends and love.

Battle / Битва
Company: Rock Films
Writer: Anar Abbasov, Oleg Denisov
Director: Anar Abbasov
Producer: Alexey Uchitel
Actors: Rinal Muhametov, Anna Isaeva, Ekaterina Kukuy, Ilya Antonenko, Igor Mirkurbanov, Vitaliy Kovalenko, Anfisa Semina, Alla Eminceva, Artem Karpov
Anton is one of the best street dancers in Russia, young and ambitious, his sights set on winning the world championship. But a street fight puts an end to his dreams. Coming round in the hospital, he discovers that he can't hear his mother’s or even his own voice. He is diagnosed with total deafness. His life has lost all meaning since he can no longer dance. He is locked in a silent, lonely world. But Anton finds the inner strength to change his outlook on life. He rediscovers his love for life and decides to start everything over from scratch. He teaches deaf kids to dance and they decide to take on a real challenge and compete side-by-side with hearing children. Anton is inspired by their courage. His creative zeal and passion for dancing bring him back to the stage.

The Pencil / Карандаш
Companies: Salt Studio, Victoria Films
Writer, director: Natalya Nazarova
Producers: Denis Kovalevskiy, Maxim Dashkin, Anna von Dziembowska
Actors: Nadezhda Gorelova, Vladimir Mishukov
After her husband is arrested, Antonina leaves her comfortable life in Saint Petersburg to follow him to the northern province of Russia. She finds a job as an art teacher at a local school and is determined to lift the spirits of the downtrodden children in her class. However, she quickly discovers that the power in the school resides with a 12-year-old boy Misha, whose brother is a feared local gang leader. Despite the warnings, Antonina stands up to the boy who bullies and tortures his classmates and the teachers.

One Breath / Один вдох
Company: Public Opinion
Writer: Alena Alova
Director: Elena Hazanova
Producers: Olga Danova, Svetlana Izvekova
Actors: Viktorya Isakova, Maxim Suhanov
Swimming teacher at a community pool and mother of two Marina’s ordinary life is shattered by her husband’s infidelity. However, Marina discovers a new love - freediving - diving as deep as possible on a single breath. She starts training for the Russian Freediving championship. Her teenage son and daughter don’t take mum’s newfound hobby seriously and neither do Marina’s competitors at the Russian championship until she wins the gold medal. Marina moves to Moscow where she finds more opportunities for her career but her dream collides with reality. She’s a single mother of two strong-willed teenagers; she has to work extra hours to make ends meet; and she can only train secretly at night as her boss at the university pool doesn’t approve of freediving. For Marina, gaining victory in the World Championship becomes a question of gaining victory over herself.

Last Honey Bulgaria / Последняя Милая Болгария
Writer: Aleksey Fedorchenko, Lidiya Osokina
Director: Aleksey Fedorchenko
Producers: Artem Vasilyev, Andrey Saveliev, Dmitriy Vorobiev
Actors: Konstantin Itounin, Ilya Belov, Alena Artemova
A young fruit breeder Leonid is evacuated to Alma-Ata in 1942 in order to develop a new variety of apples. Leonid was given a room, where he finds the diaries of a man (Semyon Kurochkin) who had recently died mysteriously. He decides to establish the truth. Olga, in whose flat Leonid has his room, works at the film studio and shows Leonid around. He discusses Kurochkin’s life with Doctor and House painter Pierre. Leonid is sure that the mystery has a logical explanation. He discovers an episode in Kurochkin’s life which caused his depression leading to his apparent death. However, matters turn out to be more complicated and although it appears everything is ruined, nothing is as it appears - the world is full of wonders. The script is based in part on the storyline of the book “Before sunrise” by Mikhail Zoshchenko whose nickname was Semyon Kurochkin.

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