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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Gives Cinema Much Needed Boost

The ailing cinema industry is showing signs of recovery -- domestic movie production is growing and the government has finally recognized that film production and distribution requires state support, a Culture Ministry official said Tuesday at a ceremony marking Cinematography Day.

"The theory that only free market mechanisms should be allowed to regulate the industry has finally been recognized as mistaken," said Alexander Golutva, deputy culture minister in charge of cinematography.

"The government plans to take steps to support the cinema industry over next few years."

Seventy-five feature films have received state funding this year, compared with only 41 last year, Golutva said.

The results of the increased support are already apparent, with Russian films appearing and competing in international film festivals in much higher numbers than past years, he said.

The national cinema industry went into a period of decline after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when state funds allocated to support film production were curtailed.

The draft federal budget submitted to the State Duma this week would increase government expenditure on the cinema industry in 2003 to 1.75 billion rubles ($52 million), from just over 1 billion rubles in 2001.

The budgeted amount might have been even higher if it weren't for a peak in foreign debt payments, Golutva said. The country is due to pay more than $17 billion in debt servicing and repayments next year.

Next year's funding boost is only the beginning of a long-term program to revive the nation's cinema industry, Golutva said.

Among other measures to revive domestic cinema, the government plans to introduce state movie contracts. Although the government's selection process and choice of themes are still unclear, the focus of interest is likely to be on children's and patriotic films, Golutva said.

"The 60th anniversary of the victory in World War II is coming up [in 2005], so I assume war-related films will be among those funded by the state," he said.

Prominent cinematic celebrities agreed that cinema is on the road to recovery. "I believe the crisis is over," said Nikita Mikhalkov, the film director whose "Burnt by the Sun" film won an Oscar for the best foreign film in 1995.

Mikhalkov said state commissions for films on particular topics is not a bad idea. "It's perfectly fine to make a good film about navy officers if there is a decline in the number of students in naval academies and if the job needs a bit of promotion -- providing, of course, that someone has a good idea and is able to fulfill the task," Mikhalkov said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

"And besides, money talks. There is nothing wrong with that," he said.