Valentina Matvienko, Russian deputy prime minister, called Russian cinema "a grand national property." Mrs. Matvienko spoke before participants in the 5th Congress of the Russian Union of Filmmakers, which opened in the Central House of Cinema in Moscow. The forum comprises 810 delegates, who represent 5,000 members of the filmmakers' union. Mrs. Matvienko delivered Russian President Vladimir Putin's message of greeting to the delegates and guests of the congress. In particular, the greeting said that Russia is a country of high spirituality, where film -- the most inclusive of all arts - plays a paramount role in spiritually enriching people. The deputy prime minister stated that she approved of the film-festival policy adopted by the Russian Union of Filmmakers, which co-sponsors 29 film festivals. At the same time, she expressed her regret that no Russian-made film participated in the contest at the most recent Moscow International Film Festival. Mrs. Matvienko backed reforms for the Russian film industry, in particular the creation of a unified system of film screenings in movie theatres and a change in the status of film studios to shareholder-funded entities. She promised that the government would promptly deal with all of the "constructive issues" the filmmakers might approach it with. The Congress of Filmmakers will go on until November 17.
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