Cinemas in Russia were victims of the attack in Ukraine

“Tristounet and… Russian-Russian! » Accustomed to European and American films, Andrei does not hide his ironic confusion in front of the posters of his cinema in Moscow. Last month, the youngster certainly benefited from the Jean-Luc Godard Festival, France’s rare cultural event since February. from the beginning “Special Operation” Major Russian and Western producers in Ukraine have stopped sending films to Russia.

“I am against this war. So why are you punishing all Russians with this cultural blockade, which actually further blocks us internally and within the Kremlin system? Your films were the opening…”, cautiously asks Andrey about his identity. The pro-Kremlin line of famous director Nikita Mikhalkov is far from unanimous among behind-the-scenes viewers and film professionals. “This war is a big mistake. But we can’t say it loud and clear. Very dangerous…” slips the actress who, like many others, plans to leave the country “Out of shame and fear”.

The return of Soviet films

A few Western films, however, go beyond the ban without anyone explaining whether or not they are a legal screening.“parallel import”. Because European products, which are banned in culture as well as in industry, can be obtained from “friendly countries” – Turkey, China, the Middle East… For the rest, fans of the big screen are forced to watch Russian films. Even the Soviet… Because to fill the gaps, cinemas really show the classics of the past. Theaters are constantly empty because there are not enough new movies.

Since March, the number of cinemagoers has been divided into three. Previously, the average number of tickets sold per week ranged from 2.5 to 3.5 million. It fell to 900,000 in September. A particularly noticeable drop in the weight of the attack in Ukraine came as the Kremlin just announced. “partial mobilization” sending young people to the front.

The result: 100,000 fewer people went to the movies each week. Since then, several films have helped increase viewership. Russia’s mega production The heart of Parma thus, during the 4th year, it allowed to increase the number of viewers to 1.3 millione The week of October is a far cry from past numbers.

“Risky investment”

“Up to 80% of the films came from Hollywood and Europe. The shock is heavy!worries Yelena Dubovchenko, former director of Sony Pictures’ now-defunct Russian subsidiary, a sector expert. In our film industry, it is more difficult to fill gaps because it takes two to three years to make a film. »

Even if the state offers to pay 70% of the costs, it remains for private entrepreneurs to invest first. “Risky investment. “Theatrical hits are rarely jackpots.” Yelena remembers Dubovchenko, but also worries about the lack of male actors and technical personnel since the military mobilization. Meanwhile, public demand for broadcasting foreign films on the Russian Internet is growing. No permission or copyright…

“Russian cinema is still far from producing enough films: a hundred, three times as much time is required per year”, The head of Mosfilm knows Karen Chakhnazarov. His magnificent post-Soviet studios in Moscow have 16 shooting pavilions with impressive warehouses for sets (500,000 items) and costumes (300,000 items of clothing). But it’s mostly for television. “Stuck in neither the state nor the private system, our cinema is still struggling financially. In my opinion, few people have the brains to invest today! », warns the director putting the finishing touches on a major production promised in early 2023. A detective film away from politics.


Kirill Serebrennikov, director in exile

Born in 1969, despite himself, the Russian theater director and director has become a symbol of opposition to Vladimir Putin in his country.

He was arrested in 2017 and then released under house arrest. As the director of the Gogol Center, he is accused of embezzlement within his powers, but he receives the support of many artists.

In 2020, he was sentenced to three years of conditional imprisonment. After the start of the war in Ukraine, he left the territory and took refuge in Berlin.

director Leto and Petrov fever, presented Tchaikovsky’s wife at the last Cannes Film Festival (in cinemas on February 15) and opened this year with the Avignon Festival The Black Monkby Anton Chekhov.

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