Kinocenter at center of flap

Property ownership rights questions leave confab-goers uneasy

MOSCOW — Moscow’s third Filmmakers Union Congress came to an uneasy, premature end April 29 — and the main issues under discussion weren’t creative ones, but problems of property ownership rights.

Delegates who made an effort to come to grips with problems affecting film production were met with little enthusiasm. An attempt to facilitate greater access to budget funds for Russia’s younger directors was turned down at voting, with most present more concerned with rights to one of Moscow’s premier cinemas, the city’s Kinocenter.

The central Moscow building houses one of the Russian capital’s best-equipped screens, with capacity for 1,000 viewers, as well as five smaller screens used by the Museum of Cinema and five floors of offices which provide space for production companies.

Ownership rights on the premises have long been in simmering dispute: formally, facility was handed over in 1993 on a 50 year lease to an international body made up of the Filmmakers’ Unions from all 15 countries of the former USSR.

However, in practice, only three of them — Russia, Georgia and Armenia — had come through with promised investment directed toward the joint body’s planned program of activity.