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Russia’s easternmost region is set to become a whole lot more animated. The government of Khabarovsk Krai, a territory much closer to East Asia than Moscow, has signed a memorandum with SMF Studio to develop a local animation “cluster.”

SMF Studio is the alias of Soyuzmultfilm, the state-owned animation producer that rose to global prominence in the Soviet era. The studio has confirmed to Cartoon Brew that it will work with the government of Khabarovsk to stimulate animation production in the territory, and also to develop educational infrastructure and cultural events related to animation.

The initiative has several components. SMF will work with a higher-education institution in Khabarovsk to develop specialized animation training. A kids’ entertainment and educational center, Soyuzmultclub, will open in the city of Khabarovsk. There are also plans to hold an animation festival this August to mark SMF’s 85th anniversary.

The cluster will be created with the participation of Mechtalët, an animation studio in Khabarovsk. Founded in September 2018, Mechtalët was the first animation studio to open in Russia’s Far Eastern region. The studio is working on its first animated series, Back to Back (image at top).

SMF director Boris Mashkovtsev cited the region’s location as an advantage: “Local studios have developed their own unique, distinctive style, and the proximity to Asian countries which have shown an active interest in Russian animation creates favorable conditions for organizing an animation hub in Khabarovsk.”

There is precedent for this initiative: in January, SMF signed a similar memorandum with the government of the Novosibirsk territory in south-west Siberia.

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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