Russia redirects movie promotions

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The Russian Ministry of Culture announced the new list of countries where it will support promotion of national films. Unlike past years, the list excludes the USA, Canada, the Baltic States and the countries of Western Europe.

According to the document, the main emphasis this year will be placed on the Balkan countries (Serbia, Slovenia), as well as Hungary and Slovakia, a number of neighboring countries (Abkhazia, Azerbaijan), Asian countries (China, Mongolia, North Korea) and Latin America (Brazil and Cuba).

For the first time, with the support of the Ministry, this year’s Russian Film Week will take place in North Korea, South Africa, Transnistria, Abkhazia and Monaco. In total, this year's promotion program will involve 22 countries.

Promotion will take many forms, such as organization of various film festivals and advertising campaigns, and as usual will engage mostly military-patriotic movies of recent years (The Battle of Sevastopol, Stalingrad, Battalion, 22 Minutes), as well as a number of sports dramas (Champion, The Legend of Number 17) and comedies (Easy on Sight).

Experts say that the changes in the promotion list are connected not only with the geopolitical situation, but also with the fact that the volume of funds allocated for the program’s implementation this year has been significantly cut. The general director of Russian filmmaking company Lenfilm, Eduard Pichugin, said that the authorities made a “shift on East” in terms of movie promotion.

“The former countries of the Warsaw Pact are the most fertile ground for the promotion of Russian cinema,” Pichugin said. “In America, we do not need anyone, but rather some narrow Russian community. While in these countries, Russian culture still can be interesting. The same applies to China. Many generations have grown on the Soviet films.”

Film on Ukraine Conflict Stirs Controversy

Russian filmmakers say they have the necessary funds to begin shooting Donbass, about the armed conflict in the titular geographic region in eastern Ukraine. With a small budget of only about US$2 million, the project has already made a lot of noise, with negative reaction from Ukrainians. 

Comments on social media speculate that the Russian filmmakers are going to create a new tool of propaganda and that the film will definitely be banned from viewing in Ukraine, at least in the part controlled by government troops.

Representatives of the project defend their aims. “Nothing will be invented, and there will be no propaganda. In fact, we will offer a way to resolve the conflict in Donbass,” said Gleb Kornilov, one of the authors of the project.

According to initial information, the film will tell the story of two brothers who by a twist of fate wind up on opposite sides of the barricades. One of them was raised in Lviv, which will be shown as the center of pro-Western culture, while the other one grew up in Donetsk, which will be shown as the city with Russian-oriented citizens.

The authors plan to make a number of analogues to the famous story by Nikolai Gogol, Taras Bulba, in which fratricidal war caused a son to stand against his own father. The release of Donbas is scheduled for the spring of 2016.                    

Russian Stars Join Co-venture with Hollywood

Maximum Impact, a movie co-venture between Hollywood and Russia starring Danny Trejo and Eric Roberts, will involve top Russian actors, according to the president of the Russian filmmaking company King Pictures, Alexander Izotov. According to Izotov, the project is unique, as it will feature seven actors from Hollywood and ten from Russia.

“In the film we will also see such actors as Kelly Hu, Eddie Griffin, Bai Ling and Tom Arnold. From the Russian side, it will be such well-known artists as Dmitri Dyuzhev, Eugene Stychkin and Pavlo Tabakov.” The drama will focus on today’s complicated political relationship between Russia and the U.S.

"The storyline of the film centers on a summit between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The screenplay was written long before the recent meeting between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, by the author of the Rush Hour trilogy, Ross LaManna,” Izotov stated.

Izotov also declared that the project will be "a kind of battle of the titans of the American and Russian schools [of acting]. We must not lose face, both in terms of film production and from the point of view of actors playing.”