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Moscow Film Commission Presented at Russian Pavilion at Cannes



On May 20th, 2017, as part of the 70th Cannes Film Festival, the Russian Pavilion hosted a presentation of the Moscow Film Commission. Meant to promote Moscow as a shooting location and to make the city more attractive for Russian and international filmmakers, the project was introduced by Vladimir Filippov, Deputy Director for the Moscow Department of Culture; Evgeny Gerasimov, Head of the Commission for Culture and Mass Communications at the Moscow City Duma; Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO; and producer Igor Ugolnikov.


Among their foreign colleagues invited to the event were Arie Bohrer, Head of Advisory Board, European Film Commission Network; Valérie Lépine-Karnik, CEO of Film France, the French Film Commission; Michel Plazanet, Deputy Director for European and International Affairs at CNC; Marijana Stoisits, Vice-chairwoman for AFCI and Head of the Vienna Film Commission; and Sigmund Elias Holm, Vice-chairman of AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International) and Head of the West-Norwegian Film Commission. As they shared their experiences, the esteemed guests explained the importance of establishing film commissions in major cities, and expressed their confidence in the Moscow Film Commission to boost both film and tourism industries and to join AFCI in the foreseeable future.


As it stands, every year sees a new drop in film shootings in Moscow: over the last five years, the numbers have decreased by half, from 80 to 40. The main reason lies in the numerous administrative obstacles directors and producers are forced to overcome. This is why the decision has been made to institute a commission tasked with enticing filmmakers, both local and international, to the streets of Moscow––a recently transformed city that holds great potential as a shooting location.


The Moscow Film Commission will be a part of the Moscow City Council, operating through the Department of Culture and Moscow Cinema––an institution that curates the development of local film theaters and various film projects around the city. The Commission will process requests and provide consulting and organizational assistance; it will also provide information on shooting locations and production companies that may help coordinate a shoot in Moscow. From now on, all filming requests both from Russian and foreign filmmakers, as well as all the necessary permits, will be handled by the same office.


Vladimir Filippov, Deputy Director for the Moscow Department of Culture:
"In today's world, the largest European city of 20 million population can no longer limit itself to preserving its cultural heritage––it is equally important to develop creative and cultural economies, too. In this regard, cinema is the most effective and rewarding direction to pursue. Over the next five years, we want to see Moscow on movie screens around the globe, and we're sparing no effort to make our city film-friendly, both for locals and foreigners. Our goal is to create as hospitable an environment for filmmakers as possible. To that end, we have to overcome the administrative barriers that get in the way of producers and directors. At the moment, in order to organize a shoot in the city, you have to get your project vetted, approved, and rubber-stamped by over 30 agencies of all kinds. Drawing on the experience of other global cities, we have created our Film Commission, a transparent structure headed by none other than Deputy Mayor Leonid Pechatnikov. The help lent by the Commission will be "wholesale," ranging from visa issues to shooting permits to location approval to blocking filming areas and hiring extras. That being said, the lowest prices are both offered and guaranteed."

Some services rendered by the Moscow Film Commission:

  • Shooting permits in the city (up to 30 days);
  • Organizational assistance (you should expect a response within one business day). One of the goals set by the Commission is to grant filmmakers access to notoriously "difficult" locations, some of them as iconic as the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Theater etc.;
  • Assistance with location scouting (recommendations provided in seven days; estimated cost in 21 days);
  • Recommending authorized production companies (a list of production companies provided in seven days).

Since such a project cannot run smoothly without certain legal adjustments, it is vital that the initiative is supported directly by the Moscow City Council (Duma).


Evgeny Gerasimov, Head of the Commission for Culture and Mass Communications at the Moscow City Duma:
"First of all, let me remark that the cultural budget of Moscow has been steadily growing lately. Improving the image of our city is one of our priorities. Filmmakers have been telling us for a long time that the filming situation in Moscow must be improved, and we have heard them. Having secured support from the Department of Culture and Mayor of Moscow, we are now willing to run the gamut from obtaining permits to hiring extras and caterers. It is also important that the lawmakers from the City Council are open to considering new legislature as needed. We are happy to have ROSKINO on board promoting a better image of Moscow––a truly deserving destination, whether we speak of the old town or contemporary cityscape."

Another initiative directed at improving the city's image will be the Mayor's annual prize "For portraying Moscow in film." Among the current contenders are films made over the last five years and set in present-day Moscow, where the city itself is central to the plot. Nine projects have been shortlisted so far, based on two criteria: their portrayal of Moscow and artistic merit. The prize fund of 100 million rubles will be divided threeways, with 50 going to the winner, and 30 and 20, respectively, to the two runners-up. The award will be presented by Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin at the 39th Moscow IFF.


Throughout the year 2017, ROSKINO has been promoting the Moscow Film Commission at the leading international film markets and festivals. Their collaboration with the Moscow City Council and the Department of Culture began with the idea to create an agency that would stimulate film production in the Russian capital, aimed at international as well as domestic crews.


Katya Mtsitouridze, ROSKINO CEO:
"A special thank you goes out to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. I'd also like to share my experience of interacting with him––a completely anti-bureaucratic experience, mind you, which is so rare to come by when you deal with state officials. I took up my suggestion with the City Council. Once I told them about the international commissions' accomplishments, and presented detailed information on how these mechanisms worked in other cities to attract film crews and encourage tourism, the Mayor immediately greenlit the project. In two weeks, the initiative was well underway. Sergey Sobyanin has helped us in a lot of ways, and we truly appreciate it."


Igor Ugolnikov, Producer:
"I'm certain that Moscow will not only be portrayed in foreign films as it deserves to be portrayed––it will also boost the production of Russian movies meant for domestic and international audiences. The film community will certainly benefit from the joint efforts of such prominent structures as ROSKINO and Moskino. I hope that next year we'll be able to gather at the Russian Pavilion again to discuss the first fruits of our labor."

The architects of the Commission have taken into account their international colleagues' achievements along with the feedback received from professional organizations, producers, and film directors. The guests at the presentation detailed the work of similar commissions in other countries and suggested vectors for future development to the Moscow Film Commission, which, as they hope, should soon become a member of AFCI.


Michel Plazanet, Deputy Director for European and International Affairs at CNC:
"Launching a project like the Moscow Film Commission seems to me an important step taken by the Russian film industry. If France, where the government systematically subsidizes national cinema, is any indication, it's a win-win for all concerned: both the film community and the audiences. The added bonus is the thriving of tourism and advancement of local culture. A film commission is a complicated mechanism, but it's crucial that these developments be encouraged. We're happy to see film commissions cropping up in Russia, a huge country with no small creative potential. On our end, we're ready to share our years of experience in this area to maximize the efficiency of the Moscow Film Commission."


Arie Bohrer, Head of Advisory Board, European Film Commission Network:
"I wholeheartedly support your initiative to get the Moscow Film Commission off the ground. Russia is a part of Europe. There was a time when major European cities didn't quite see eye to eye, but eventually those disagreements were ironed out once France, Italy, and Austria decided to join their efforts, and now their film commissions are frequent collaborators. With that in mind, let me point out that the Moscow Film Commission means more to us than a commission of, say, Hawaii or Tokyo. Moscow belongs to the shared European space, and all European countries should stick together. We're happy to welcome our Moscow friends in our midst. Now you are card-carrying European filmmakers!"


Valérie Lépine-Karnik, CEO of Film France, the French Film Commission:
"Mission Impossible 6 is currently filming in France, and we couldn't be happier about it because it's our chance to advertise France globally––a mass sendout, as it were, of postcards with pictures of our country. The French Film Commission consists of 40 regional subdivisions, each working on popularizing its town and contributing to the positive image of the country as a whole, which helps us pique the interest of filmmakers from abroad. Other recent big-budget productions filmed in France include Christopher Nolan's WWII epic Dunkirk (it filmed up north) and the TV show Riviera, presented at the TV market MIPTV and already aired in Great Britain. The more foreign projects are filmed in a country, the better off are its culture, economy, and tourism. The more locales end up on TV and film, the better. I'm glad that Russia has come to this realization as well and formed the Moscow Film Commission. I'm sure it'll pay off soon enough."


Marijana Stoisits, Vice-Chairwoman for AFCI and Head of the Vienna Film Commission:
"I'm so happy that Moscow now has a film commission of its own. I love this city, and I'd like to see it in the movies more often. I hope the Commission proves effective and promptly joins the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), which I represent."


Frank Priot, International Consultant for the Moscow Film Commission:
"It is my deepest conviction that every major city in the world should have its own film commission. Moscow is an amazing city, and the tourists shouldn't be the only ones aware of that––it should be shown to moviegoers all over the world. Furthermore, this city is capable of providing a great number of various locales. The project developed by the Department of Culture and Moscow Cinema is more than a mere film commission: it's a crucial tool in cultural promotion. In order to increase the number of film projects, you need to increase the transparency of the system, for instance, by creating an informative and user-friendly website. Once the system is allowed to run smoothly, it incentivizes filmmakers to choose the city as their shooting location: at least, this is how it works in France. It simply puzzles everyone when a city doesn't have a film commission of its own. Now that a commission has been created in Moscow, I'm sure the international prestige of the Russian capital will grow exponentially."

Call for applications to film in Moscow opens on May 20th. Over the summer 2017, the Moscow Film Commission will operate in test mode while the process is perfected.


Russian applicants should include information about their project (title, country of origin, brief description, names of director, producer, and production company), the shooting period (timeline, storyboards, number of participants, brief description of the scene for each object, equipment data, animals on the set, number of parking spaces), and contact info. For international companies, a brief description of the project will be sufficient.


The Moscow Film Commission website is already up and running, complete with application forms and contacts: http://filmmoscow.com/
Applications should be sent to mfc@mos-kino.ru or filmmoscow@mos-kino.ru.


The Russian delegation's presence at the Cannes Film Festival is managed by ROSKINO with the support of the Russian Ministry of Culture and Moscow City Council. Strategic partnership provided by PJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines.