The Film Industry: Promoting the Regions
Experts at the Russian Investment Forum believe cinema remains one of the most important arts, thus support for cinema needs to be intensified with government support.
One of the session themes on the Forum’s second day was a discussion of measures to support the film industry in the Russian regions as well as the role of high-quality film production in the country’s public and cultural life. The session moderator, Sreda Production Company General Producer Alexander Tsekalo pointed out the signing of an agreement earlier in the day on rebates between the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, the Association of Film and TV Producers and the governors of the Republic of Karelia, the Irkutsk Region and the Rostov Region. The term ‘rebate’ in the context of the film industry means compensation from regional budget funds for producers’ expenses when producing films in specific territories. To date, subsidies had been the only form of support. However, an active dialogue between the professional community, the ASI and regional authorities has found support with the Ministry of Culture, which in 2016 issued a resolution on the development of new support measures for domestic film producers. The Ulyanovsk Region was the first to react to the initiative by establishing a compensation rate of up to 40%.
The second moderator, KinoKvant General Director Anna Krutova, said the rebate system is currently an essential and one of the most effective tools for supporting the national film industry. She noted that the phenomenon of Hollywood was initially the result of cooperation between independent film studios and the California authorities and that this practice went global in the future.
Against this backdrop, all the discussion participants stressed that the financial aspect of rebates is not nearly as significant as their importance in the context of encouraging regional film production and the promotion of cities and regions in the media. In particular, ASI CEO Svetlana Chupsheva called for viewing this initiative as a model that could be used to position the regions in the context of mass culture, develop foreign and domestic tourism and attract investment. As a positive example of this phenomenon, she cited Georgia where the legislative recognition of the practice of supporting film production in 2016 helped to attract the interest of foreign film companies to the country.
Sergei Selyanov, Chairman of the Management Board of the Association of Film and TV Producers, noted the high level of responsibility of his organization, which through uniting 29 major film companies serves as the foundation for the entire domestic film industry. Describing cinema as “a platform for uniting the country”, he spoke about the high level of interest among the regional authorities in joint projects and cited data from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center according to which 58% of respondents acknowledged the quality of domestic film production had increased over the last two years.
Federal Agency for Tourism Head Oleg Safonov and Kaliningrad Region Development Corporation Vladimir Zarudny also offered a positive assessment of the processes currently taking place in the film industry. Safonov described cinema as a method that provides a creative understanding of Russia’s current path and an important aspect in forming a national ideology. For his part, Zarudny noted the important cultural value of cinematography for his region, which is geographically detached from “greater” Russia. “We live in conditions where young people know the streets of Warsaw better than the streets of Russian cities. The visualization of Russian life in the regions provides them with a sense of belonging to a common great history. In this regard, rebates are an investment in the region’s future”, Zarudny said.