informational war

Ukraine has banned the screening of Russian films with elements of propaganda in Ukrainian movie theaters

Ukraine has banned the screening of Russian films with elements of propaganda in Ukrainian movie theaters
Russian films rarely gather a full house in Ukrainian movie theaters

Ukraine’s State Film Agency refused to issue licenses for two Russian films. The decision was made in accordance with the Resolution No. 278 of the Cabinet of Ministers dated July 23, 2014 “On Forming a Committee on Issues of Imposing Sanctions against Individuals that Financially Support Terrorism in Ukraine”. According to the document, films produced in Russia should be analyzed for compliance with the Ukrainian legislation.

Ban on propaganda

The expert Commission on Distribution and Screening of Films viewed two films produced in Russia at its recent meeting as a part of consideration of the application for distribution licenses. These were Belaya Gvardia (The White Guard), produced by the film company Non-stop Production and directed by S. Snezhkin and the film Poddubniy, produced by the TRITE Studio and directed by G. Ogrov. In the experts’ opinion, the films demonstrate disregard of the Ukrainian language, the people, the state, while some facts in them have been distorted in favor of Russia. “In conditions of the information war and taking into account protection of national interests in the informational and cultural sphere a decision was made to not issue distribution licenses for these films,” the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine informed.

Support of the movie theaters

Noteworthy is that in April 2014 film distributors in Ukraine refused to show two Russian films in Ukrainian movie theaters – Vosmyorka (8) and 22 Minutes. Earlier in March 2014 the management of the Mahnat Movie Theater decided to not distribute the film Zalyotchiki by Kirill Kuzin, Skoriy Moskva – Rossiya by Igor Voloshin and Avantiuristy by Konstantin Buslov.

Ukrainian film distributors took a similar position regarding two of the aforementioned films. “I cannot say anything about Belaya Gvardia as I did not watch it. But after watching snippets of the film Poddubniy I immediately said our movie theaters will not show this propaganda,” Director of Repertoire Planning of the Linia Kino movie theater chain Viktoria Dobrovolska told Capital. She added that this film is blatant Russian propaganda. Representatives of other movie theaters in Kyiv agree with this opinion.

Minimal money

In the opinion of interlocutors of Capital, both films are not commercial products and are not aimed at bringing in serious proceeds. “The producers of these films handed them over to Ukrainian distributors with minimum guarantees,” says Dobrovolska, explaining that such a guarantee could be worth around US $50,000. “These films are aimed at destabilizing the situation in our country, not at turning a profit,” the director of a Kyiv movie theater added.

He also noted that the renowned Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov, who is known to have made anti-Ukrainian statements, participated in the production of Belaya Gvardia. Capital failed to commentary from the company Ukrainian Film Distribution, the distributor of the film Poddubniy. The company said the management is currently on vacation.

Chairman of the Oversight Committee of the Multiplex Holding company (which controls 76 movie theaters in Ukraine) Anton Puhach also confirms the initiative of the government in the fight against propaganda, though he notes that full blockading of Russian movies in Ukraine should not be allowed. “There are several propagandistic films that cannot be labeled as art. But there are also films that are worthy for viewing by Ukrainian citizens,” he says. Among the latest Russian produced films Puhach noted Viy, which brought in a record UAH 32 mn in box office. Overall, Russian made films only account for 15-18% of box office proceeds in Ukraine.

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