Demand for Russian melodramas, documentaries, and animation is growing in the Middle East and Africa

Russian film and animation companies continue negotiations on international sales of content and co-productions in MENA region and beyond according to the results of the Dubai International Content Market DICM 2023, which was held at the end of November. Under the Russian Content Worldwide (RCW) brand, ROSKINO, the Russian film promotion body, organized the participation of 16 Russian companies who presented almost 80 films, TV series, and animation projects.

Among the main results for Russian companies were the agreement to show the television series Chaliapin and a series of melodramas from Russia Television and Radio on the Dubai TV channel; sales of more than 50 hours of animated series from SMF Animation to the fast growing Arab VOD platform 1001.tv; an agreement with a distributor from Azerbaijan on the sale of a documentary about the history of space exploration, Space Dogs, from Odin Media; a preliminary agreement between the AP Entertainment and a Turkish company on joint film production; and an agreement with the largest African broadcaster from Tanzania, Azam Media, to launch a line of melodramas of Russia Television and Radio on their channel.

Great interest was shown in the series The Librarian (Art Pictures Distribution), the historical detective drama Torgsin.Trade House (Russkoe film company), the biographical dramas Zhukov and Margarita Nazarova – Queen of the Tigers (Odin Media), the series Noble Detective and Doctor Driver (NTV Broadcasting company), Elizaveta and Ekaterina: Favorites (Russia Television and Radio), the animated series The Steel Family: Brotherhood vs Gold (Voronezh animation studio), Team M.A.T.C.H (YARKO company), Puppies & Kittens (Digital Television Russia), projects from the online cinema IVI, All Media (a START company), and cartoons from RikiGroup and Terra Anima.

Russian companies held negotiations with representatives from a diverse range of countries—the UAE, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania, India, China, CIS countries, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK.

Russian participants noted interest in format rights for the adaptation of series and TV programs from Russia. A number of countries, including Turkey, are interested in co-production.

Despite this, the bulk of negotiations were with foreign TV channels and platforms, and new opportunities appeared for the sale of theatrical rights to Russian films and animation.

KEY AGREEMENTS FOR RUSSIAN COMPANIES AT THE DICM CONTENT MARKET

MOVIES AND SERIES

Art Pictures Distribution noted that in addition to the series The Librarian, content buyers are interested in dramas and series and programs for family audiences (Daddy’s Daughters, Ivanovs vs Ivanovs, and programs and series from the Domashny TV channel). There was interest not only in the distribution of ready-made content, but also in the acquisition of format rights.

For Sovtelexport, the official distributor of Russia Television and Radio, DICM 2023 market was one of the most productive, primarily due to the expansion of the company’s catalog with a specially selected line of melodramas. This content was the most in demand in Dubai. Such large-scale projects as the costume television series Chaliapin, Elizaveta and the new season of the historical saga Ekaterina—Ekaterina: Favorites. Agreements have been reached with the Dubai TV channel on licensing the television series Chaliapin and a line of short melodramas: the agreement is already at the approval stage. Distributors from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan are considering purchasing a package of documentaries about nature and space. An important meeting was with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which regulates all media resources in Pakistan. On their initiative, a meeting was held with the broadcasting company EMTEL Communication, at which the initial selection of content was made for the launch of the first documentary channel in Pakistan.The distributor Synpronize plans to show in India short melodramas and drama series from Russia Television and Radio in Tamil. The buyer of feature films for CCTV6 (China) is interested in purchasing the rights to the film Elsa’s Land. In addition, for the first time in Africa, the broadcaster Azam Media will show four-episode love melodramas from VGTRK on its channel. Representatives of Sovtelexport believe that an important aspect in developing cooperation with Arab countries is the focus of their multi-genre catalog on promoting traditional values.

The distribution company Odin Media has reached an agreement with an Azerbaijani company to sell the documentary about the history of space exploration, Space Dogs. Other documentary series from Odin Media (Mysteries of History 2, Mysteries of Space 2, The Secret History of Food, etc.) and detective dramas (The Professor, Psychic, etc.) were noted as having great audience potential in MENA according to distributors from the UAE, Lebanon, Turkey and Pakistan. Media companies from Turkey are also interested in historical dramas: Zhukov, The Hunt for Beria, and Margarita Nazarova-Queen of the Tigers.

Thanks to meetings held at the DICM market, NTV Broadcasting company established relationships with local companies interested in the localization of NTV projects for Arab countries, which will expand NTV’s audiences in the future. The greatest interest from distributors, TV channels and VOD platforms was generated by the projects Noble Detective, Doctor Driver, Double Life, Hitman’s Curse, and others.

Planeta Inform Film Distribution discussed the possibilities of distribution in the UAE, India, China, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Lebanon of the feature films Centaur, Lost in the North, Young Man, I’m Losing Weight, and The Elephant as well as the company’s documentary projects.

Russkoe film company said that Torgsin.Trade House, a historical detective drama about the 1920s in the USSR, was its most popular project. Company representatives said that it is important to take into account the nuances of media content standards as there are many sensitive topics in the Middle East. While for North Africa, long running series are of interest.

AP Entertainment discussed co-production with Turkish studios; there was also a preliminary agreement between the AP Entertainment and a Turkish company on joint film production The company also negotiated with Turkey and India on the sale of rights to YouTube broadcasts.

Mars Media Entertainment presented Master and Margarita, a new film adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel and other projects including A Dog Named Palma, The Prisoner, and The Northern Lights. Negotiations were mainly conducted with content buyers from the UAE and Turkey.

ANIMATION

As a result of the DICM market, more than 50 hours of animation from the SMF studio will appear on the fast-growing VOD platform 1001.tv, broadcasting in Arabic with a focus on the Middle East. The animated series I’ll get you!Holidays, Rockoons, Meow Magic, The Secrets of Honey Hills, Orange Moo-Cow, Claymotions, will be added to the online library for viewers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait Egypt and twenty other countries.

Voronezh Animation Studio presented the cartoons The Snow Queen and the Princess, The Steel Family: Brotherhood vs Gold, and Arctic Heroes. The fifth part of the Snow Queen franchise was previously released theatrically in MENA by Front Row Filmed Entertainment. The new animated series from the studio, The Steel Family: Brotherhood vs Gold, which is available for international sales in series and full-length format, attracted great interest at DICM 2023. International distributors noted the human and family values of the series, which are an important factor when selecting content for purchases in the region.

YARKO animation company took part in DICM for the first time. The company presented 3D and 2D series, including Team M.A.T.C.H, Dragonia, Fly Deliveries, Tickabo and Shushu magic. Buyers from different countries were impressed by the large catalog of Yarko animation. Depending on the territory and method of broadcasting (TV or online), buyers were interested in a range of projects for children of all ages. Negotiations are currently underway to sign the first deals.

Digital Television Russia said there was great interest in the projects Puppies& Kittens, Champies, new episodes of the animated series Woodventures (specially adapted for the region), and Leo and Tig. Detailed negotiations on the projects are ongoing.

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