Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Will Russia protect its culture from Western rubbish?

Low-quality film products conquer children's immature minds. Parents may try to protect the younger generation from poor quality food or harmful toys, but it is hard to protect individuals from watching low-grade films. Will Russia change its cultural policy because of yet another standoff with the West?

This issue affects many spheres of life in Russia, not only ideology or, if you like, good taste. Who should decide what people should watch? Should it be government officials? Or will film distribution companies dictate their tastes, their ill taste, as it often happens?

Probably, the most productive approach to the issue would be based on the assumption that restrictive measures are not the way one should step on in the first place. Let's recollect the story from 2006, when Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" was banned from distribution in Russia and Kazakhstan. Some "experts" assumed that the comedy offends the Kazakh people and they vetoed the picture for cinemas. However, those who wanted to see the film, saw it. We have to point it out here that it goes about restrictions for distribution in cinemas, rather than the films that propagate fascism, xenophobia or anti-Islamic artefacts like the US film "Innocence of Muslims", i.e. the films fall under criminal articles.

State Duma deputy from United Russia, Robert Schlegel, has recently prepared a bill to limit the distribution of foreign films in Russian cinemas. According to Schlegel, who prepared a similar bill four years ago, now came the moment to halve the proportion of foreign-made films that are shown in Russian cinemas. In turn, Russian owners of cinema chains and box office experts say that such quotas can be dangerous for the Russian film industry.

During the conference "Russian Film Industry in 2014: Analysis of the Current Situation and Prospects of Development," which took place in early March, most participants pointed out difficult economic condition of domestic cinemas, especially regional ones. Most experts and business people believe that one should pay more attention to economic measures to support local filmmakers instead.

"As we moving towards national idea, I think, sooner or later, this 'chewing gum' will go, - actor and director Vasili Mishchenko said in an interview with Pravda.Ru . - One needs to have an alternative to private film distribution. There is no alternative to private distribution that we have now. There should be public distribution provided. A director shoots a film, and he has to invest a half of the budget in advertising. Producers take 50 percent according to contractual terms, and there is no one else, besides producers, whom a director could give his film to. If you do not want these conditions, producers dump you the price, which is chaos. When we have public cinemas and public distribution, a director will be able to take his film to a public cinema, where a ticket price could be lower, but people would go there to see the film. But I would not like to limit Russian viewers in their opportunity to see foreign films.

"World practice shows that the prohibitive or restrictive measures were revoked or were not used in most European countries. Exceptions, such as Spain, where the obligatory share of national films should be 16 percent, can only prove the rule.  China has recently increased the distribution of foreign films from 20 to 34 films a year. In India, a part of Hollywood films simply do not get translated, thereby reducing the number of spectators. This seems to be a good idea.

"I've heard that Russian fans of J. Tolkien specifically studied English to read "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. In the 1970s, Soviet music fans studied foreign languages ​​to be able to understand the lyrics of rock songs. This is not an option, though. A good film will be translated, and one does not need to be bright to understand rubbish. Most young people do not listen to the lyrics of foreign songs that they play on the radio. Film distribution targets primarily young people, who will be zombified and fooled. In Russia, there is no good policy in cinematography, and viewers will simply smile at the screen.

Director of the Moscow-based film distribution company P&I Films, Marianna Ibragimova, who deals with intellectual films, complained of the network of Russian cinemas that "do very little to expand the list of films that they show. They provide a maximum of one session per day for the films, which, as they believe, will not bring good profit to them."

"The worst problem is that one can fill cinemas, the Internet and television with Russian products to the maximum. However, the Russian product is a low quality product. To make it a product of high quality, one needs to create institutes of cinematography. For the time being, all these sitcoms and soap operas that they show on TV are nothing but unbearable, pathetic and disgusting nonsense that defies any description. In today's Russia, there are only two institutes of cinematography - one in Moscow and one in St. Petersburg," Marianna Ibragimova told Pravda.Ru.

There is another aspect to the problem. Just a few decades ago, there was ideology in the Soviet Union, and before 1917, there was Orthodox faith in the Russian Empire. So far, we have nothing to replace them with. What values will young Russian men and women have?

Igor Bukker
Read the original in Russian