Author`s name Michael Simpson

Russian Deputies Protest Against American Films

Will Russians see new American films?
The Russian Duma Commission for Information Policy is going to prohibit TV channels and cinemas showing many foreign films. Amendments to the law on governmental support of cinematography are being developed now; according to these amendments, a quota for showing of foreign films will make up not more than 50% of the repertory. Otherwise, cinemas may be deprived of their licenses.

Right before the recess Duma deputy, Deputy Chairman of the People's Party Valery Galchenko submitted amendments to the law on governmental support of cinematography for consideration of the Duma commission for information policy. According to the amendments, TV channels and cinemas are offered in an amicable way to observe quotas for showing of western films. It is said that the number of Russian films to be shown must be not less than 50%, and it should be even higher than 50 percent. Otherwise, the deputy states that TV channels and cinemas may be stripped of their licenses. This first of all concerns such cinema centers as Karo and Kodak Kinomir that mostly show films by The Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures.

The initiator of the amendments told Gazeta: "I like Rambo, it's a wonderful film. I am not against foreign films. I am a champion of morality on TV and cinema screens!"

As for Russian films, the deputy likes the popular series Brigada with Sergey Bezrukov; but from the point of view of morals, he says, the Russian film is even worse than the much-talked-of film Once Upon A Time In America. Valery Galchenko says that at least Americans explain what is good and what is bad. "Unfortunately Russian films show bandits as really cool guys, as if the films set an example of the right mode of living."
Valery Galchenko ranks the popular Gone With the Wind and the new screen version of Dostoyevsky's Idiot among highly moral films. "The Hollywood brought up America, but it is not good for us!" the deputy thinks. In addition to the quotas in the sphere of cinematography, the deputy suggests that prostitutes and hooligans should be allowed compulsory work.

The new legislation suggests that the Russian cinematography must follow France's example and introduce quotas step-wise. For instance, 20% of films to be shown in Russia in 2004 must be domestic; every year the share must be increased by 10%. The amount of 50% may be reached by 2007. At that, the deputy recommends that production of Russian films must be increased by 10% every year as compared with the present-day film production.

President of the Gold Knight film festival Nikolay Burlyayev and Director of the Soyuzmultfilm studio Ernst Rakhimov support the idea of fighting for higher morals on TV and cinema screens. Majority of participants of recent Duma hearings also agree that quotas of this kind must be introduced. The People's deputy faction is the third largest one in the Duma after the centrists and the communist party, Valery Galchenko hopes that the faction will support the amendments and adopt them in the first reading this fall already. Once President Vladimir Putin said that it made no sense to impose restrictions on foreign films. He said that other methods must be used in this situation.

Film director Karen Shakhnazarov says that majority of films that Russians see now are those made in the USA. "I always supported the idea of introduction of quotas on foreign films and openly said it. On the other hand, we should treat the problem reasonably: the quota for Russian films must make up about 15-20%. We won't be able to cope with a higher quota. It is not just a question of competition on the film market; it is more important to enter this market normally. Domestic cinematography is imposed quotas upon all over the world. The number of restrictions reaches 40-60% in some countries. But it is quite a lot; a normal figure is 15-20%."

"We don't mean that American films must be prohibited at all. It is not right to prohibit foreign films; they can be shown any time. At that, Russian films should be shown at least two times a day. In addition, it would be nice to show European films as well. For the time being, we have mostly American films." The European Union has a program meant for showing of European films. At that, the program provides for showing of different films, even Asian ones so that films of all countries could be represented.

Film producer Sergey Selyanov says that Russian film makers won't be able to fill the quota of domestic films. "These measures may be introduced only if Russian film makes will make 10-12 competitive films a year. At that, if there is unfair competition from the American side it will make sense to take measures of this kind. There is no need to impose restrictions if the competition is fair."