Ukrainian distribution company B&H, based in Kiev, is due to open its own local-language dubbing studios later this year following the introduction of local-language rules for films shown in the country, the head of the Ukrainian Cinema Foundation said Tuesday.
The law forces distributors to offer Ukrainian dubbed or subtitled films. Most films screened in Ukraine until the law was introduced were dubbed into Russian, reflecting the stranglehold of Russian distributors on local distribution.
Its adoption stoked controversy with Russian distributors and exhibitors in the Russian-speaking eastern half of the country after its introduction in January.
Andriy Khalpakhchi, director of the Ukrainian Cinema Foundation said the law was designed to support the development of a domestic distribution industry.
“It is clearly working. It is now possible to dub films that Russian distributors never bothered with, such as smaller arthouse films, giving Ukrainian audiences a much wider choice at the cinema,” Khalpakhchi said.
Khalpakhchi, who also heads Kiev’s Molodist film festival, said opportunities were beginning to open up. Molodist and French-German shingle the Coproduction Office signed a deal at Cannes this week to cooperate in distributing the titles the company represents.
Russian distributors have not been slow to understand the changes: Moscow’s Central Partnership recently announced plans to open a Kiev office to give it a presence in the changed Ukrainian distribution market.
“Ukraine is forging a new and distinctive identity for its distribution and exhibition market and that is reflected in the support the country’s first lady, Katerina Yuschenko —who was in Cannes last week — and the private sponsors such as Nemiroff vodka that support the cinema foundation,” Khalpakhchi added.