After the Moscow work was done, the North Americans were treated to two days in St. Petersburg, complete with tours of the magnificent Hermitage Museum and Peterhof Palace, as well as a treat from the Mikailovsky Theatre: Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" ballet, followed by a White Nights boat ride through the canals.
What did Roskino get out of it? Well, they're taking the show on the road to the Venice Film Festival. And they mounted a realistic and enlightening Summit on the challenges facing all foreign films back in North America, as well jump-starting the Americans' ongoing relationships with the Russian film community. For example, this group went home with a high opinion of actor-director Fedor Bondarchuk ("Ninth Company," a hit for Gravitas Ventures stateside) not only from his strong presence in two relatively commercial films, "Spy" and "Two Days," but his warm welcome on the dramatic battle-scarred set in the countryside outside St. Petersburg of his fourth film, the $27 million war drama "Stalingrad," which was in the midst of a fifteen-week film shoot. (More on that later, with photos.)
David Rubin, who is head of physical production for CBS Films, took a side trip to the gargantuan new $89-million studio Glavkino (part-owned by Bondarchuk), which is trying to rival Moscow's venerable Mosfilm, which hosted "Mission: Impossible--Ghost Protocol," and Czech studio Barrandov, where Russian film industry powerbroker Nikita Mikhalkov shot "Burnt by the Sun 2," Russia's official Oscar submission.
CBS Films is not looking to spend like the free-wheeling studios; at the DOORS Summit Rubin was interested in Russian co-productions, which make up the lion's share of Russian movies that land U.S. distribution, but agreed with others on the panel that finding partners you can trust is key; apparently, some Russian producers can be dodgy.