The Russian film industry enters the Middle East and North African television market
From May 17 to 19, Dubai will host the DISCOP Dubai television content market, an industrial platform that brings together key players in the MENA region. Twenty-eight Russian film, series, and animation companies will present their projects; 12 companies will be available offline at the Russian Content Worldwide (RCW) stand. The main focus of Russian companies will be on series of different genres and animation — content that has proved popular in MENA. The catalog also includes feature films — mainly action, comedy, sports dramas, fantasy, sci-fi — and documentaries.
The previous experience of Russian companies in MENA, and a number of successful deals in this region, have shown the interest of these audiences in Russian content and the potential for further cooperation. More than 80 buyers from the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and Tunisia are participating in the DISCOP Dubai market — countries where the Russian industry sees opportunities for exports and for joint initiatives.
The Russian Content Worldwide (RCW) stand is organized by ROSKINO, the Russian film promotion body, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Culture.
Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Olga Lyubimova says, “The geographical scale of DISCOP Dubai market participants — from the United Arab Emirates to Algeria and Turkey — allows us to count on the effectiveness of Russian content and new business contacts, which are necessary for content promotion in MENA. I am sure that among the more than 120 Russian projects, MENA representatives of the industry will be able to choose content to suit their audiences. Films, series, and animation under the RCW brand will open up new vistas of Russian culture for local viewers. DISCOP Dubai is not only a business platform, but also an important event in strengthening the international cultural dialogue between Russia and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.”
ROSKINO CEO Inna Shalyto says, “Participation in the DISCOP Dubai market is part of a new strategy for the international promotion of Russian content. This is already the second visit of the industry under the RCW brand to the UAE — a major hub in the Middle East. Distributors are concentrated here, purchasing content for the region. There is a potential audience of more than 400 million in MENA for our films, series, animation, and documentaries. The entire range of content will be presented by Russian companies at the RCW stand. Considering Russia’s growing presence in MENA and the record level of trade with the UAE in 2021, we hope that the creative industries and cinema of Russia will also contribute to the development of this market in the near future.”
FILMS AND SERIES
Vodorod Pictures are presenting a new biographical drama, Lord of the Wind, dedicated to the round-the-world hot air balloon flight of the famous Russian adventurer Fyodor Konyukhov, which he completed in 2016 in a record of 11 days. The film will be released in Russia in December this year. In the lead role is a famous Russian actor and director Fyodor Bondarchuk, who was also one of the producers.
All Media (a START company) will present the family fantasy Red Riding Hood, the original START thriller Behind closed doors and a number of animation projects. In addition, All Media is bringing to Dubai the romantic melodrama Danube and original START projects — the thriller The Riot and the comedy Desperate for Marriage. The package of projects includes a variety of genres which will be of interest to MENA audiences. In addition to the pre-sales of films that have not yet been released, All Media plans to strengthen ties with the companies which it has previously collaborated with and find new partners from the region.
Russian online cinemas will be widely represented, with market leaders Kinopoisk and IVI participating for the first time as part of the RCW stand. Kinopoisk is showing the series Patient Zero, which tells about the first major outbreak of HIV in the USSR. They are also presenting a historical fantasy Aeterna. Part 1.
IVI is presenting four series — three comedies Tenderness, Carried away, and Welcome back!, and a new crime drama Chimera, which is scheduled for release in September 2022.
The START video service is presenting its popular projects at DISCOP Dubai focusing on family values important for the region. The comedy Sisters was the leader of the first quarter of this year in terms of viewers on START; the most discussed series of spring 2021 according to YouScan is the detective dramedy about a family of vampires, Vampires of Midland, and one of the most successful START comedy projects is Ms Sweet. START is also showing the sequel to the mystery drama Passengers, the first season of which won the Seoul International Drama Awards and was acquired for broadcast by the Brazilian streaming service Globoplay; the original drama Kris+Tina and a psychological thriller about a professional negotiator Mediator.
Sovtelexport, the official content distributor of Russia Television and Radio, has been successfully cooperating with industry representatives in MENA for many years. This season they are presenting a new historical project of the Russia TV channel — the adventure drama Elizaveta, which is set in 1725. Before his death, the Emperor Peter the Great changes his testament and passes the throne to his beloved young daughter, sixteen-year-old Elizaveta. But the young princess is not ready to sacrifice personal happiness for the crown. Elizaveta is forced to take the path of dangerous adventures in order to deal with court intrigues, stalking and evil plots. Period dramas by the Russia Television and Radio are in great demand worldwide. The Ekaterina series was sold to 104 countries and Elizaveta has every chance to beat the record. According to the company, “the series has everything to appeal to a wide audience, including young people, — chases, duels, balls, and passionate love affairs”. At the market, buyers will also get a chance to see the series The Stenographer and the Yamal Nature Reserve documentary.
Russkoe Film Company is presenting their new 12-episode detective drama The Cruel World of Men that centers on a successful young financier who becomes a victim of a financial scam. This is an absolutely universal story about a modern office, work relationships, and at the same time it’s about love and women’s independence. Сompany representatives are sure this series will find an audience in any country in the world.
In the animation segment, Russian companies will present full-length films and series. CTB Film Company presents new animation movies The Barkers Team and Maracuda. The Barkers Team is based on popular TV series The Barkers, focusing on around five merry dog kids who dream of winning the best Internet show contest vs the cats superstar. Of course, friendship wins. Animation adventure Maracuda unfolds in the tribal era and tells a story of a young boy initiation into adulthood pressures. The struggles faced with growth which trigger maturity, compassion and forgiveness. The company noted that MENA market is very relevant to their animation, matching the requests of local family audiences. CTB are also looking to co-production opportunities for new TV series and features in different genres.
SMF Animation is offering Secrets of Honey Hills, The Adventures of Peter and Wolf, Claymotions, Monsikids, and Mr. Theo, Cat and Dog. The company believes that these projects will be well received in the MENA market, since the content is entertaining, educational and universal. It is suitable for different target audiences and talks about family values and friendship. Representatives of SMF Animation also emphasized that the projects are adapted to the local market and are offered in classical Arabic.
Riki Group will present its popular animated series The Fixies, Tim and Tom, Babyriki, Beardy Bodo, as well as their latest feature film, Finnick, which has already been sold to more than 30 countries. In Russia, Finnick was released theatrically on March 24 and was the top grossing film for 4 weeks, being watched by more than 1.6 million people. As part of the market, the company intends to complete negotiations on the theatrical distribution of Finnick in the Middle East and Turkey.
Platoshka Studio is focusing on the first season of the series Beadies (for 0–5 year-olds). In June, it is planned to finish dubbing into Chinese and English. Representatives of the studio expect that the edutainment animated series will be in demand.
Digital Television Russia will present four animation projects by Parovoz Animation Studio: Puppies and Kittens, Be-be-bears, Leo and Tig for 3–6 year-olds and Fantasy Patrol for 6–12 year-olds.
International representatives will also be able to get to know the products of other Russian content producers via print and digital catalogs: Central Partnership, Art Pictures Distribution, Mars Media Entertainment, 1-2-3 Production, STAR MEDIA, Russian World Vision, KION, Odin-Media, Igmar, Sreda production, Rock Films, TV Channel Five, NTV Broadcasting company, Kinoland, PRAD-media, and Parovoz Animation studio.
Russian Content Worldwide (https://rcw.online/ ) by Roskino is an umbrella export brand for the Russian content industry. Russian Content Worldwide’s mission is fostering international collaboration and cooperation, improving the transparency of the Russian film industry and establishing communication between Russian players focused on international markets and the international audience interested in new names, original content and new horizons in the area of film production.