Russian filmmakers accept gov't absorption

MOSCOW — Russia’s film community has climbed down from its bid to keep regulatory body Goskino (the State Committee for Cinematography) independent, accepting June 1 that its absorption by government decree into the ministry of culture was inevitable.

A filmmakers’ delegation led by top helmer Nikita Mikhalkov, which had lobbied for a meeting with president Vladimir Putin, eventually talked with newly-appointed prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov May 27.

Though they put a brave face on it, those filmmakers involved effectively ended up accepting what had been offered a week earlier.

Goskino chief Alexander Golutva will now become first deputy to culture minister Mikhail Shvydkoi, heading a film unit split into twin structures controlling production and distribution (crucially, though, it has no financial independence).

Studios keep archives

More important for most concerned was the government’s commitment that pre-1991 archives will remain the property of the studios which made them.

Questions of status aside, the longer term consequences of the meeting could bring major changes to Russia’s film landscape, especially for foreign players.

Kasyanov apparently proved receptive to alternative funding ideas which Mikhalkov had originally put forward two years ago. The most significant step would involve a percentage levy on sale of video cassettes, with proceeds going to support local film production.

“It would bring in huge funds, on which the industry could live without government financing — if it’s implemented honestly and correctly,” Mikhalkov said.

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