Friday, 29 June 2012

Can Russian cinema be fashionable again?

The Russian film industry is demanding changes at 
home in order to boost its international reputation and create demand abroad.
“Russian cinema has a dual handicap: a lack of demand from abroad and poor marketing,” said producer Yevgeny Gindilis during a round- table discussion in Moscow last month.
But Elena Romanova, the director of Fond Kino, the state body responsible for promoting Russian cinema, stressed: “We want Russian cinema to be shown to the foreign masses.”
That ambition is still a long way from being achieved. However, the fact that the film In the Fog by Sergei Loznitsa won the FIPRESCI prize from a selection of 22 films at the Cannes Film Festival at the weekend is a great promotion for Russian cinema generally. The film, which is a throwback to the era of classic Soviet cinema, will now be distributed internationally.
 Apart from In the Fog and a few rare art and experimental films such as Elena or Faust which also won prizes at major international festivals and consequently enjoyed a wider distribution, Russian films are rarely seen in foreign cinemas. They tend to be confined to small screenings at Russian cultural centres, such as Pushkin House in London.
Movies that are popular in Russia are often branded unexportable, and most art and experimental films fall under the radar of the international distributors. In an attempt to remedy this situation Fond Kino has launched several initiatives.
A Russian Cinema stand was set up at the Cinema Market on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival this month which featured the latest Russian films, such as Dukhless, an adaptation of the Pushkin novel,The Queen of Spades (Pavel Lungin’s latest film), and Baba Yaga, a Franco-Belgian-Russian co-production in 3D animation.
Another initiative, Red Square Screenings, involves inviting the main players in the international film industry to attend private screenings of Russian films in Moscow from October 15-20. The screenings will be held at GUM, the department store facing Red Square.
“Competition is very fierce, which is why we need to promote Russian cinema in an outstanding way,” said Mr Gindilis, who is helping organise the screenings.
Key figures in the Russian film industry recognise that they have a lot to do at home before they can achieve their international goals. “We need tax incentives for producers and distributors,” says Ms Romanova, adding that the Russian industry receives less favourable treatment than those of countries such as Canada or France.
More here.


Anonymous said...

All too true. Unfortunately Americans want stupid films with explosions and sluts. I can't get enough of Russian Cinema personally. Perhaps if they put their work up on Youtube with subtitles (like Mosfilm has done)then they could gain larger audiences.

Pietro A. Shakarian said...

I would say that the lack of demand certainly extends from the marketing issue which is sad. I believe that many Americans (or at least Americans who are cinephiles) would be very receptive to Russian cinema, largely because of the contribution of Russian and Soviet filmmakers to the film medium overall. In other words, Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Tarkovsky, etc. provide a foundation that can be easily built upon. All Russian marketers need to do is to get the right people and to communicate the right message.

I also would like to note that, in addition to MosFilm and its amazing YouTube channel, there is another company that has done a very admirable job in bringing Russian and Soviet films to the US. This is the Russian Cinema Council (Ruscico), which has released some of the most significant Russian and Soviet masterworks to DVD in beautiful prints. If you have not seen their stuff, then you definitely should.