Russia may edge out auteur pics

Culture minister directs scorn at helmers' 'spiritual anguish'

MOSCOW

Russian public film funding rules are likely to tighten after the country’s recently appointed minister of culture said he was disinclined to pay for movies about the “spiritual anguish” of directors.

Vladimir Medinsky, appointed in May following Vladimir Putin’s election to a third term as president, said public money should be prioritized for big national projects, such as films about historically important subjects like the battle of Borodino — the turning point of the war of 1812 with France that is the subject of bicentennial celebrations here.

“We believe that we have the right of the people to say yes, we want a film about Borodino. We do not want a movie about your spiritual anguish,” Medinsky said during government discussions on film funding.

“I think it is natural that the state pays for what it considers to be appropriate at this time,” he said, adding that only then could more “creative” projects be considered.

Although his comments were directed at funding for Russian pics, coin for co-productions, which share a $150 million annual funding pot, could also be affected. Public comments by powerful ministers are carefully watched by Russian officials, even when they are not formal policy statements.

Medinsky is also looking at introducing quotas to give Russian movies more access to cinemas dominated by U.S. and foreign fare.

Russian box office is destined for another record-breaking year, with the $1 billion mark already passed on Oct. 21, two weeks earlier than last year, according to the Russian Cinema Fund.

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