Kremlin advisor proposes 24% of screen time for local movies

MOSCOW — A senior Kremlin advisor has put forward a proposal to introduce quotas for local-language movies in Russian cinemas.

Stanislav Voskresensky, a deputy minister for economic development, wants 24% of screen time at movie theaters to be reserved for Russian movies.

His plans, outlined in a letter to the Culture Ministry, reflect fears that Russian films are being swamped by Hollywood blockbusters.

The share of local films at the Russian box office, which topped $1.2 billion last year. has dropped steeply to around 16% from a high point of more than 30% five years ago.

Voskresensky said that similar quotas in other European countries, such as France, had helped protect local industries and film culture.

Another approach could be to restrict the number of foreign films permitted to be shown on Russian screens, a method deployed in China, for example.

The moves, which are the first sign of a possible shake up in Russian movie industry policy following the election earlier this month of Vladimir Putin to a third term as president, are likely to win support from major Russian producers.

However, these measures could hit foreign indie pics, who could be starved of screens.

Sam Klebanov, a producer and niche distributor of international arthouse films through his boutique label Cinema Without Frontiers, said the move could be disastrous.

“I’ve spoken with Voskresensky and he clearly wants to do something to help Russian cinema, but this would be counterproductive,” Klebanov told Variety.

“It would be better to bring in measures to ensure more Russian films were shown on state television channels than adopt quotas.”

Putin, who has been Russia’s powerful prime minster for the past four years, has long opposed import quotas, but support for ring-fencing Russian films in exhibition is understood to have general support within the Kremlin.

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