A Russian film festival famed for controversial films on subjects ranging from local neo-Nazis to gay themes has been cancelled in favour of a replacement backed by Vladimir Putin’s administration.
Moscow city council abruptly removed funding for Moscow Premiere’s 13th edition, which was due to commence on 2 September, citing the local economic downturn, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Due to the difficult economic conditions, the culture department of Moscow has to limit the use of budgetary resources in 2015 and cancel funding of several events, including Moscow Premiere,” wrote the Moscow government culture committee in a letter to organisers. It also revealed that a new, “positive, youth-oriented” festival would be set up to replace Premiere, chaired by council member Yevgeny Gerasimov, a member of Putin’s ruling United Russia party. It is understood the Youth Festival of Life Affirming Film will run from 4 until 7 September.
Film critic Vyacheslav Shmyrov, who headed Moscow Premiere, said he would refuse to work with the new festival , and did not hold out much hope that screenings from the 13th edition could be rescued.
“Our festival was running 12 years and had a very different program, showing films such as Russia-88 and Winter’s Path,” he told newspaper Noviye Izvestia. Russia-88 is Pavel Bardin’s 2009 mockumentary about Russian neo-Nazis, while 2013’s Winter’s Path centres on a classical singer who begins a same-sex relationship with a street thug.
Tickets for Moscow Premiere had been available for free via vouchers found in local newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. “It is primarily a social festival and a charity project that exists for those people, especially the older generation, who cannot afford to go to the movies,” said Shmyrov. “It is mainly a social mission.”
In February, it was reported that Russia would make festivals exempt from controversial new regulations requiring all films to secure an exhibition licence before they might be screened in public. New rules aimed at cracking down on features that “threaten national unity” or “defile culture” were introduced last year.
Gotta love Putin’s Russia! :)