MOSCOW — Six weeks before the scheduled opening of the 20th Moscow Intl. Film Festival, 60 Russian film and theater notables have addressed an open letter to Russian Premier Victor Chernomyrdin and Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov requesting that the fest should not be held this year.

In a country whose film industry has collapsed, and where the large part of those involved in it are out of work and half-starving, such an affair appears immoral and even criminal, their appeal read.

Among those signing were directors Alexander Pankratov-Cherny and Sergei Nikonenko and theater figures Oleg Yefremov, director of Moscow Arts Theater, Stanislav Lyubshin, Lev Durov, Vasily Lanovoi and Lyudmila Zaitseva.

Citing precedents from years when the Cannes and Venice festivals were not held, their letter claimed that funds would be better spent on film production.

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