LA-based fund accesses $ 50m Russian investment for slate of international co-productions

Projects include Simon West’s Dali biopic and Patricia Riggen’s Vivaldi.

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Los Angeles-based financial management company International Film Finance Associates (IFFA) has attracted Russian oligarchs as investors for a six-picture slate of international co-productions, including new films by Simon West, James Foley and Christopher Boe.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily in Moscow at the weekend during this year’s Moscow Co-Production Forum, IFFA co-chairman Stephen Kerr confirmed that $ 50m has been raised from Russian private investors with a minimum of $ 5m equity capital being invested into each project.

The six projects in IFFA’s initial slate are:

·      Simon West’s $ 23.4m biopic Dali chronicling the stranger than fiction rise of Salvador Dali (to be played by Antonio Banderas) from childhood to the toast of European capitals, New York and Hollywood accompanied by his beautiful wife Gala (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Simon West’s own production company and Media 8 Productions are to produce with Spanish and German production partners.

·      Patricia Riggen’s $ 17.4m drama Vivaldi based on the life of the famous Baroque violinist, composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi who will be played by Luke Evans. The co-production between Cologne-based Zeitsprung Entertainment and Raffaella De Laurentis’ Raffaella Productions, which also stars Jessica Biel and Ben Kingsley and set to begin shooting in Germany from this November, will be theatrically released in Germany by Senator Film and is being handled internationally by Sierra Pictures.

·      James Foley’s $ 15.8m Recoil, starring Chris Hemsworth and Paul Giamatti and adapted by Ralph Pezzullo from the novel of the same name by Jim Thompson.

·      Christopher Boe’s $ 12m Fool Proof , starring Uma Thurman as a high-powered defence lawyer becoming involved with a seductive DNA specialist who holds the key to her daughter’s genetic disease. Marisa Polvino, Bo Hyde and Sandy Missakian will produce.

·      Michael Corrente’s $ 12m Prince of Providence written by David Mamet and Howard Korder based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name. Steven Soderbergh, Klaus Bedalt and Robyn Klein will executive produce the drama chronicling the rise and fall of Buddy Cianci as mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, for 21 years. Robin Williams, Oliver Platt, Dermot Mulroney and Edward Burns are being lined up to star.

·      James Manera’s $ 33m Lombardi about one of the most iconic legends in the history of American football, Vince Lombardi, to be played by John Travolta.  The stirring drama will follow Lombardi and his brash Irish Catholic halfback, Paul Hornung (Matthew McConaughey), as they took the Green Bay Packers to three Super Bowls and entered into sports legend.

Kerr heads up IFFA with Miami-based serial entrepreneur Daniel Pansky, who has been doing business with investors in Russia for the past 15 years. He explained that the fund finances up to 50% of the production costs in return for a controlling interest in the final films.

The equity financier only provides capital for projects which have been substantially developed by the producers and, in most cases, have the director, writer and actors attached to the project.

Meanwhile, the terms enjoyed by IFFA’s investors see them receiving 115% of the first revenue after distribution fees and expenses. Thereafter, the investors split net proceeds 50-50 with the producers/directors/writers and talent. There is no upper limit on how much the fund can make off of each picture, and if back-end profit participation has been promised to the talent, director or anyone else involved in the making or distribution of the film, that money will come out of the producer’s 50% and not the fund’s.

IFFA’s production slate is scheduled to begin principal photography in late summer or autumn of this year with the films being theatrically released during 2011.

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