Tsk 'Tiski': Critics decry film's funding

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SOCHI, Russia -- The director of a new film heavily funded by the Russian state drug control agency has come in for flak from the critics for a work that some perceive as a mouthpiece for the government's anti-narcotics campaign.

Valery Todorovsky's "Tiski" (Vice), which premiered late Wednesday in competition at the 18th edition of the Russian national film festival Kinotavr, received almost $1.5 million of its $4 million budget directly from the federal service for drug control, its producer Vadim Gorainov said.

In a series of frank but good-natured exchanges at a festival news conference Thursday, Todorovksy defended the decision to accept 37 million rubles ($1.4 million) from the drug control agency.

"We did not start out by asking the drug control agency for money -- we went to them at script stage to get serious and detailed information. They offered the money later on but did not have any influence on the screenplay or film, but it is true that the police like this film," Todorosvky said at the crowded news conference.

Todorovsky's comment prompted laughter and one wag to remark: "The film looks as if it were funded by an agency promoting drugs rather than one against narcotics."

The director, one of Russia's leading young directors with a track record that includes such critically acclaimed films as "Country of the Deaf" (1998) and the anti-Chechen war film "My Step Brother Frankenstein" (2004), insisted that the film was not designed as an anti-drug message as such but was rather the story of a young man who falls into the world of drug dealing by accident.
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