MOSCOW — Strife within Russian film’s main creative body has intensified as opponents of org’s prexy Nikita Mikhalkov move into open confrontation.
The latest such public gesture came Sept. 11 when auteur Alexei German (“Khrustalyev, My Car!”) announced that he was resigning from the org in a vocal attack on Mikhalkov (“Burnt by the Sun”) and his supporters.
Another opponent, Yuly Gusman, the long-term director of the Filmmakers Union’s headquarters, the same day blamed Mikhalkov for his recent dismissal from his post. Gusman, who is nationally known as a broadcaster and showman, was suspended in August from the post that he had held for more than 15 years.
As well as maintaining the HQ, Dom Kino, as a gathering place for union members — its 1,100-seater cinema remains a favorite place for local premieres — Gusman was one of the founders of the national Nike award in the late 1980s.
Last year Mikhalkov announced a rival prize, the Golden Eagle, which is skedded to be awarded Sept. 27. Gusman’s Nike continues to be supported by a significant number of territory’s major creatives.
Most controversial of all is Mikhalkov’s intention to redevelop Dom Kino’s central Moscow building. Plans suggest that the site would be handed over to a commercial developer, who would in return eventually allocate part of any new construction to the union.
Though few deny that the venue is in need of restoration, many fear that such plans would see the property lost forever. Over its more than 40-year history, the building not only was home to many of the greatest Soviet-era directors, but also a celebrated meeting place for democratic political forces during the early years of perestroika.
On top of this there is the union’s dispute, running almost 10 years, with the Confederation of Filmmakers’ Unions of the ex-USSR over revenue from another Moscow property, the city’s Cinema Center, which culminated in April with the summary eviction of the latter body from their Dom Kino offices.
Court cases between the two organizations remain unresolved. The Confederation is headed up by Rustam Ibragimbekov, best known as Mikhalkov’s long-term scripter partner.