Russian Director Kirill Serebrennikov Rejects State Funding for 'Chaikovski'

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MOSCOW – Director Kirill Serebrennikov intends to return 30 million rubles ($949,000) provided by the Russian culture ministry for the production of his new film, a biopic on renowned 19th century Russian composer Piotr Chaikovski, after the other film funding institution, the Cinema Fund, refused to bankroll the project.

“Me and producer Sabina Yermeyeva are returning the 30 million rubles to our state, which strives for entertainment and top-grossing blockbusters,” Serebrennikov said on his Facebook page. “We will be looking money for a film on Russia’s main national composer, Piotr Ilyich Chaikovski, outside our motherland.”

The director explained his decision by the fact that the Russian Cinema Fund refused to extend any state cash to the project. “They said they don’t see any ‘audience potential’ in the movie,” he commented.

Last summer, the culture ministry agreed to partially finance Chaikovski, a 240 million ruble ($7.6 million) biopic, written by top-level screenwriter Yuri Arabov, which was submitted for consideration in the art house and auteur film category. The Cinema Fund considered the Chaikovski application alongside others submitted by film companies that don’t make the “top 13.”

In his comments, Serebrennikov also expressed his frustration over that fact that public discussion of the project in recent weeks has been largely limited to Chaikovski’s homosexuality – at a time when a controversial law against “gay propaganda among minors” is in place in Russia.

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