Magazine article Screen International

Industry Outcry over New Law That Could Jeopardise Many Russian Film Festivals

Magazine article Screen International

Industry Outcry over New Law That Could Jeopardise Many Russian Film Festivals

Article excerpt

The definition of what a film festival is could be amended.

Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin has been called upon by representatives of the Russian distribution, exhibition, production sectors as well as film critics and festival organisers to hold back from signing a bill into law that could spell the end of many film festivals being held in Russia.

According to the bill titled ‘On State Support for the Cinematography of the Russian Federation’ which passed the State Duma and Federation Council only days ago, the definition of what a film festival is would be amended to only include events which have a jury and a competition programme, lasts no more than 10 days and programmes films for no more than two screening slots.

In addition, films selected for screening should not be more than a year old when they are shown at a festival and each title would need to apply for a distribution certificate.

Speaking to Screen about the proposed changes, Alexander Rodnyansky, producer of Leviathan and Loveless and President of Russia’s national film festival, Kinotavr, in Sochi, said that the amended law would “mean the end of the majority of Russian film festivals, which for many reasons, mostly financial, won’t be able to comply with the new rules.”

He added: “The law places a great financial burden on the organisers of such festivals, which, in most cases, serve first of all cultural and educational purposes, rather than commercial.”

“There are dozens of festivals in Russia which bring films that win in Venice, in Locarno, in Berlin and at other festivals, but for commercial reasons are never bought for theatrical release in Russia. These festivals are the only places where Russian audiences can see them on the big screen and the new law would put an end to this.”

“It is also important to note that the new version of the law will make the retrospectives of important filmmakers like Bergman or Kubrick impossible as well”, Rodnyansky explained.

Censorship

According to one industry figure acquainted with film policy in Russia, this amendment for the position of festivals “had been planned for some time, but now they have done it really quickly and it should therefore definitely go through, supposedly so as to have parity with the festivals with Russian films which were similarly ‘censored’ three years ago. …

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