2. October 2019

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From September 13 to 16, 2019, film commissioners from around the world met in St. Petersburg, Russia, to share their experiences and participate in workshops and seminars on current topics of importance to the audiovisual industry. This year’s conference was organized by the Association of Film Commissioners International, based in Los Angeles, and the Russian Film Commission.
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Cineposium is a globally unique event, attended annually by more than a hundred film commissions. We were pleased, therefore, that Pavlina Žipková of the Czech Film Commission was invited to lead a panel discussion on cross-border cooperation and co-production. Guest speakers included Norwegian producer Per Henry Borch (Ex Machina, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Italian producer and president of Panorama Films Marco Valerio Pugini (All the Money in the World), Solo: A Star Wars Story). “Cross-border cooperation in recent years has become an increasingly hot topic. As the number of film commissions around the world grows, especially at the regional level, the term co-production no longer means only financial cooperation between two or more countries. We’re also seeing more and more direct cooperation between producers in different regions, either in the same or in different countries, regarding not only financing but also locations,” says Žipková, who is also vice-president of the European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN). This network brings together 94 European member film commissions and assisted the AFCI with organising the panel discussions.

As part of one of the panels, film commissioners also took a look at the ancient city of Novgorod the Great, where they learned something about the past and present of the area and visited the local sights. They then took part in a round-table discussion in the presence of the Novgorod public, students, and local journalists with the goal of exchanging experiences between the different commissions. The governor of the Novgorod Region Andrey Nikitin was also on hand to offer his support. “The opportunity to share experiences is incredibly valuable for the film commissioner profession. ‘So many countries, so many customs’ in our work means the opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by commissions in other regions, what problems they’re facing, and how we can help each other out. Perhaps we are all dependent on the political climate and we all need our politicians at the national and regional levels to understand the benefits of filmmaking. And it is these means of communication from film commissions ‘upwards’ that are the most frequent subject of discussion at our conferences,” adds Žipková. The choice of St Petersburg and its beautiful architecture for the AFCI conference was not a random one. It is undoubtedly the center of Russian culture, with many UNESCO World Heritage listed sites. Next year, the conference returns to the United States – to Niagara Falls in New York State.