Rus pic biz fights meld

Biz players petition Putin to keep Goskino independent of gov't

MOSCOW — Russia’s film community is up in arms as its members try to protect the future of its governing body, the State Committee for Cinematography (Goskino), against government reorganization plans that threaten to absorb it into the country’s Ministry of Culture.

The campaign culminated Tuesday with the dispatch of open letters from organizations and individuals in the industry to President Vladimir Putin in support of Goskino’s continuing existence in its present form.

“Such a merger would be the death of Russian cinema. If Vladimir Putin doesn’t understand that, then he will have a heavy responsibility on his shoulders,” said helmer Nikita Mikhalkov, who heads the country’s Filmmakers Union.

The reorganization would abolish Goskino as a separate body, making cinema another sub-department of the Culture Ministry, while other existing bodies — covering fields as diverse as tourism and archives — are also absorbed into the ministry’s jurisdiction.

Proponents of the idea argue that such rationalization would help by creating a single government body with wider cultural responsibilities. Mikhalkov, however, says the real motivation for the reorganization is governed by a variety of factors, including the possible ability to re-allocate rights on films shot before 1992 to benefit local TV players (who now have to purchase them from the studios concerned), the ability to influence any future privatization of those studios, and access to revenue generated from any future tax on video or theater distribution.

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