Communist group protests casting of DiCaprio

Russia In Review

The heads of the political party “Communists of Russia” have spoken against the plans of Leonardo DiCaprio to play the famed leader of the Russian Communist revolution, Vladimir Lenin, in a motion picture. The Communists also vowed to stage protests at the Russian film studio Lenfirm, which officially voiced its support for the proposed movie.

"The Communists of Russia dramatically and negatively respond to the desire of Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio to play in the movie world proletariat leader Vladimir Lenin,” commented Sergei Malinkovich, first secretary of the party committee. "He has no idea of ​​Lenin's life, as he leads the life of a bourgeois. Within the protest action, we tore up his portrait [DiCaprio] and forwarded a relevant letter to Lenfilm, as the studio announced that it is ready to give some props to the actor. We demand that Lenfilm should not allow this; otherwise we will organize serious protest actions.”

But DiCaprio should not despair, as the Russian communists will approve the casting if a number of their requirements are fulfilled.

“Firstly, the actor must rename the Blackadore Caye Island near the coast of Belize to Ulyanovsk [the real surname of Lenin] and open a museum of the October Revolution there. Also, the actor needs to live at least six months in the village of Shushenskoye in Krasnoyarsk Oblast, where Lenin was left for a three-year exile. Also, he needs to play the role of some Communist activist of a smaller scale–some revolutionary sailor.”

“Communists of Russia” are noted for their radical ideas. A representative of the Ministry of Culture of Russia called the party “just a bunch of crazy guys,” adding, “their words should not be taking seriously, not one bit.”

Government Declares Year of National Cinema

Russian authorities expect a real breakthrough for the national cinema industry this year, as 2016 officially has been named “the year of domestic movies,” with a large number of initiatives for their promotion already scheduled for the coming months.

The Russian Cinema Fund will spend 1.5 billion rubles (US$20 million) on the construction of 143 cinemas in 51 different regions of the country, primarily in small and medium-sized cities. These cinemas will be focused on screenings of domestically produced films. 

In addition, the Russian Cinema Fund this year will refrain from granting money to domestic films on a repayment basis. This means that filmmakers will not have to give back part of the box office to the Cinema Fund in return for subsidies at the stage of production.

"In a difficult economic situation in the country in general, this move will provide significant support to the national film industry in the year of cinema,” stated Vyacheslav Telnov, director of the Department of Films in the Culture Ministry. “However, in 2017 the Cinema Fund will return to the repayment basis in the providing of subsidies,”

The head of the Cinema Fund, Anton Malyshev, also stated that additional Russian regions this year may be obligated to pump money into the production of films. In particular, such a system may be introduced in the Kaliningrad region, Primorsky Krai and the Republic of Crimea.

"Every year we produce more films, and we have room to grow. Therefore, we will try today to draw the regions so they will introduce a system where 20 percent of the costs of films will be returned to producers [from the budget of the region where film has been shot]," Malyshev explained.

The Russian state budget annually releases about US$100 million for filmmaker subsidies, but only 20 to 25% of all movies produced with state money recoup those funds.

Russian Filmmakers Master IMAX

The success of the Russian movie Stalingrad, directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk, has spurred IMAX to expand cooperation with Russian filmmakers in the coming years, according to a statement by John Schreiner, the Canadian company’s London-based VP of sales.

Schreiner did not disclose the amount of money the company earned on its first Russian project, but only said that the corporation invested US$1 million in the movie. “This is one of our best investments in a non-Hollywood project. We are happy with the result,” he stated.

As a result, there are three new Russian movies with confirmed cooperation with IMAX currently on the way to screens. Two are adventure films: Crew by Nikolai Lebedev and Duelist by Alexei Mizgireva. Fyodor Bondarchuk will also collaborate with IMAX on his new movie Gravity, slated for release in early 2017.

Released in 2013, Stalingrad was the first movie in IMAX made in Russia. With a total budget of US$30 million, it earned US$68.1 million at the box office, which for a Russian film can be considered a real success.

According to Schreiner, the overall investment in Crew may rise to US$1.5 million. The amount will be bigger because parts of the film will be shot with special IMAX cameras, which should provide even higher image quality.