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World Screen Newsflash

April 6, 2021


Russia Television and Radio Delivers Historical Epics & More

Sovtelexport has been representing Russia’s largest media company, Russia Television and Radio, in the international content distribution market for over 20 years. “Major industry players trust our vast experience in the field and impeccable reputation,” says Julia Matyash, director of Sovtelexport. “Our wide multi-genre catalog filled with high-quality content allows us to know what project to offer to every single one of our numerous partners in order to meet their needs.”

Despite what was a challenging year for the media industry, Sovtelexport managed to increase its sales rate in 2020 by 87 percent. It did so through a combination of optimizing its distribution strategy for the online markets and bolstering its promotional activities.

***Image***“The pandemic situation worldwide has crucially changed the process of communication with our clients; however, it did not drastically affect buyers’ needs,” Matyash says. “Buyers, as before, are looking for high-quality content, and demand for a certain genre depends on the territory.”

She says that family entertainment is particularly appreciated at the moment: “It is a global trend.”

Action and sci-fi programs remain popular, and Sovtelexport is fielding requests for stories with a criminal component.

Period dramas and adaptations of classics have long been hallmarks of Russia Television and Radio’s catalog, and both are performing well on the international stage. Highlights on offer from Sovtelexport include the period-set Ekaterina and Ekaterina. Pretenders, Sophia and Godunov. Film versions of internationally acclaimed Russian classics include The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov and The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Dramas inspired by popular books of modern Russian authors are also prime picks, according to Matyash. The offer includes The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Blackout by Alexey Ivanov and Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes by Guzel Yakhina. “Titles based on books are appealing because in most cases, the plot centers on real events and people,” she adds. “Their messages are simple: love, family and humanity and, therefore, will resonate with viewers of any nationality.”

New programming highlights include the period drama The Terrible, a story of the great love and relentless brutality of the first Russian Tsar, Ivan IV. Matyash says that the “brilliant cast” and attention to detail—with hundreds of extras, over a thousand costumes and 400 elaborate prosthetic makeup designs—will transport viewers to the 16th century. “The program corresponds to the signature style of Russia Television and Radio’s catalog,” she adds. “Our international partners look forward to seeing this type of content from us every year.”

The Optimists: Caribbean Season features a passionate love story that unfolds during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Viewers will witness masterful diplomacy, adventurism and romance taking place while a nuclear war is threatening the world,” says Matyash. “It is a refined detective story that always resonates with the audience. The series is not limited to one genre only; it is a perfect combination of a love story, spy drama, action and light notes of humor. The Optimists is a real high-end film inspired by real historical events.”

Call Me Mother is an emotional drama that Matyash believes will “touch women’s hearts.” In the series, a young woman finds the strength to overcome difficult challenges and finds love, loyalty and endless kindness in her heart during harsh times. “Stories about strong women have remained relevant in Russian and foreign cinema since Gone with the Wind was released [in 1940],” Matyash says. “Directors keep finding new ways of telling expressive stories about women’s fates and universal values of life.”

Interest in documentary films is steady, she reports. “Programs on culture, traveling, history, people and events of modern days are especially popular.” The new documentary slate features a remarkable film made by the famous Russian director Andrey Konchalovsky, Homo Sperans, which explores peculiarities of the Russian people’s mentality and their unique ability to be happy in any living conditions. And, of course, the lineup includes programs centered on important historical events of the 21st century, including Beslan, The Wall, The Victory Parade and Kresty.

“The Sovtelexport catalog contains over 25,000 hours of diverse content,” says Matyash. “This allows us to find the right program for every client.” For 2021, the company’s goals are to expand the geography of its cooperations, strengthen international relations with current partners and tie-up with new clients.

“The pandemic has accelerated the growth in the number of new streaming services worldwide,” Matyash says. “New companies are actively looking for their own niche in the market without competing with Netflix, for example. They focus on providing their viewers with content that is distinct and different from what’s presented by the major platforms. Also, many online platforms turn to increasing their content rotation. For example, a film remains available for 30 days on the basis of SVOD, and then it gets replaced by a new one and, in case of its high rating, it is transferred to the TVOD category. Thus, the coming year offers significant prospects for distributors, and we expect to take advantage of them.”

See Russia Television and Radio/Sovtelexport’s Spring 2021 Showcase here.

More from Sovtelexport

The Terrible

***Video***(Drama, 8x60 min.) The life of the most controversial and mysterious Russian ruler, Ivan IV, is light and darkness. Torn between mercy and cruelty, the deeply religious tsar considered himself an awful sinner. Despite being an incredibly educated and literary gifted person, a reformer and a creator, he was a cruel tyrant. The greatest statesman went through glorious victories and bitter defeats. He was blessed with big love, which he eventually lost in the darkness of plots and intrigues. This tragedy changed him, and Ivan IV morphed into the infamous Ivan the Terrible, brutal and ruthless.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

The Optimists: Caribbean Season

***Video***(Spy/detective drama, 8x52 min.) The Cuban Missile Crisis is in full swing. USSR–United States relations are at their tensest. During his mission in New York, spy star Dmitry Nesterov falls in love with an American woman, but their passionate love affair is to be disrupted. Nesterov is urgently sent back to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow. Accompanied by young diplomats, coincidentally he ends up in the thick of things because of the ballistic missile deployment in Cuba.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Call Me Mother

***Video***(Drama, 12x43-47 min.) Love story in the time of the 1930s repressions. Passion, separation, escape. Young Tatiana follows her husband to Moscow to avoid getting arrested. He soon betrays her, and she finds shelter as a nanny in the house of a famous Soviet engineer. When the government comes after him and his wife, Tanya has to escape with their little sons. She becomes a mother to them and intends to return the love she once lost.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes

***Video***(Drama, 8x53-55 min.) Zuleikha, a quiet and obedient Muslim wife, is living with her abusive husband and despotic mother-in-law in a remote Tatar village in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. When her husband is murdered by soldiers for hiding grain, she is arrested and sent to Siberia. A dreadful trip to a place of exile, thousands of kilometers and a fierce winter kill many. In this severe wilderness, she begins to build a new life for herself and discovers an inner strength given by great love and endearment.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

The Blood Widow

***Video***(Thriller/historical drama, 16x51-53 min.) Spine-chilling series about the most notorious female serial killer in Russian history. She was widowed at a young age, rejected by her lover and turned into a monster. To have her revenge on men, she tortured and murdered over a hundred innocent peasants. The blood widow got caught, stripped of all her titles and sentenced to life in a monastery prison.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Ekaterina. Pretenders

***Video***(Historical drama, 16x52-53 min.) 1774. The rule of the great and mighty Ekaterina is threatened. The Russo-Turkish War continues, draining the Empire’s treasury. Numerous pretenders appear with claims to the throne. The Peasants’ War is in full swing; a war led by Yemelyan Pugachev, who passed himself off as Peter III. There is danger brewing inside the palace, too: the noblemen want to pass the throne on to her oldest son, Paul. Ekaterina’s personal life is troubled. She has lost hope of having a child with Prince Potemkin. She has new love interests, new favorites. But the biggest and most important love of the Empress is Russia itself. Ekaterina has to make decisions that determine the fate of her throne and her empire.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Homo Sperans

***Video***(Lifestyle/psychology, 1x73 min.) A portrait of a Russian person made up of many images. The heroes of the film are ordinary people who meet their requirements for eternal questions: what is being, what is happiness, what does it mean to love your homeland? Their strength lies in the ability to do their job every day, not to lose heart and always believe in the best.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***(Current affairs/psychology, 1x90 min.) Kresty is one of the oldest and largest prisons in Russia, located in the center of Saint Petersburg. The history of Kresty reflects the history of Russia. Throughout the 130-year existence of the prison, thousands of people have passed through these walls: revolutionaries, engineers, generals, writers, poets, scientists, thieves and serial killers. The Kresty prison is society in a nutshell, where human vices as well as fortitude, freedom and dignity reveal themselves to the fullest.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

The Wall

***Video***(History, 2x45 min.) A film by the famous Russian journalist Andrey Kondrashov about the destruction of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. These events of the late 1980s resulted in a crushing diplomatic defeat for the Soviet Union. How did it happen? Could the USSR stop NATO from expanding to the east? The documentary offers viewers an in-depth look into one of the most notable events of the 20th century.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com


***Video***(History, 1x109 min.) The Beslan attack happened on September 1, 2004. Terrorists captured a school in the small North Ossetian of Beslan. There were 334 victims, 186 of them children. It is considered to be the cruelest terrorist attack in the modern history of Russia. Fifteen years have passed, but people still remain helpless in the face of terrorism. The Beslan tragedy is Russia’s 9/11. It is a wound that will never heal.
Watch now on WorldScreenings.com

Visit Russia Television and Radio/Sovtelexport’s Screening Room

Sovtelexport Contacts: Julia Matyash, Director; Maria Dorokhina, Head, International Sales, Worldwide, except CIS & Baltic States; Elizaveta Shcherbakova, Manager, International Sales, Worldwide, except CIS & Baltic States; Nadezhda Kobzeva, Manager, International Sales, Worldwide, except CIS & Baltic States.


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